Enchanted Rock State Natural Area sits on Big Sandy Creek on the border of Gillespie and Llano counties. It is 18 miles north of Fredericksburg.
The Nature Conservancy of Texas purchased the property from Charles Moss in 1978. It later sold the 1,640.5-acre property to the state of Texas. The state bought an additional three acres to add to the park.
Enchanted Rock opened as a state natural area in October 1978. It is a National Natural Landmark, and is on the National Register of Historic Places as an Archeological District.
More than 400 archeological sites have been found in the park. All are protected, and 120 of them are designated State Archeological Landmarks.
More than 250,000 people trek to the park each year to experience the magic of Enchanted Rock. In fact, it is one of the most visited parks in the state park system.
Humans have camped in this area for 12,000 years.
One enduring sign of their time here remains: Prehistoric people ground or pounded their food on granite rocks throughout the park. They left depressions in the granite, called bedrock mortars.
The Spaniards first explored Central Texas in the 1700s. They mounted raids against the Lipan Apache and attempted to colonize this area. They established a mission and presidio on the San Saba River in the mid-1700s, and tried to establish a silver mine on Honey Creek near the Llano River.
Germans and Americans arrived by the mid-1800s, drawn by dreams of having land of their own and tales of gold and silver.
Captain Jack Hays: Capt. John Coffee (Jack) Hays was a surveyor and legendary Texas Ranger. While surveying near Enchanted Rock in 1841, Indians attacked Hays and a group of men. Cut off from the others, Hays climbed the rock and holed up in a depression at the summit. He fought off his attackers for three hours, before his companions came to his aid. Look for his historical marker as you climb.
Myths and Legends
Enchanted Rock has fascinated humans for thousands of years. As a result, it has inspired many stories that endure today. Most of these are rooted in fancy rather than fact.
Tonkawa Indians thought that ghost fires flickered on top of the dome. The odd creaking and groaning coming from the dome frightened them. But don’t worry! Geologists say that the dome creaks and groans as temperatures change. As for the ghost fires, the rock glitters on clear nights after rain. Scientists think the glittering is reflections from collected water or wet feldspar.
One story tells of an Indian maiden who saw her tribe killed by an enemy. She threw herself off the top of Enchanted Rock, and her spirit haunts the rock still. Another romantic story tells of a young Spanish soldier who rescued his true love just as Comanches were about to burn her at the base of the rock.
Once, the Tonkawa captured a Spanish conquistador, who escaped by hiding in the rocks. This gave rise to an Indian legend of a “pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own.” The Indians believed he wove enchantments on the area.
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