Enchanted Rock

Last weekend, we took our first camping trip to Enchanted Rock State Park. Enchanted Rock is a strange sight nestled in the heart of the hill country that begs your attention the moment it comes into view. Enchanted Rock is also known as the Main Dome and one of four exposed features of the much larger batholith that actually covers 62 square miles. This rock dome was once molten magma that formed deep beneath the surface. The Main Dome is in the company of Little Rock, Freshman Mountain, and Buzzard’s Roost.

Enchanted Rock coming into view
Buzzard’s Roost just past Sandy Creek
View from Enchanted Rock, Little Rock in the distance

I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve had a hard time writing about Enchanted Rock. Don’t get me wrong, the place is beautiful, rich in history, sacred. It’s just difficult to tune into that when you have less than 24 hours to shed the outside world, half of that world is with you in the same place, and your two daughters are at each other’s throats the whole time. See that picture of my girls on top of Enchanted Rock with the other dome in the distance? They are really wishing they could kill each other, and I’m thinking at that point, it might be entertaining to watch them try. Let’s just say I learned a few lessons on this trip.

Here is the first lesson. If you are seeking a powerful moment in nature away from the crowd and you are frustrated because you aren’t getting it and your kids have worn you down to a thread, the solution is not to draw the attention of the crowd by losing it at the top of a sacred rock.

Beautiful, isn’t it?


I lingered here for a little while. Ok, for a long while.

On the website, they recommend visiting Enchanted Rock during the week. There is a reason. It is the same reason you will probably never go to an amusement park on Memorial Day or Labor Day Weekends. Also, our campsite was right on one of the main trails. Lesson #2: When you are checking in at park headquarters, don’t pick a campsite that appears on the map to be close to a trail no matter what the guy behind the check in desk tells you. If it appears to be close to the trail, it is. There are three primitive hike in campsites that would have been a much better option. We were short on time and opted for convenience. Which brings me to lesson #3.

I know this one already. Never, ever go camping for just one night. No matter how I try to convince myself it will be ok, there is just not enough time to make the necessary shift. It is entirely too much work and not enough time to unwind. Now, on to something a little more positive.

After a summer noted for it’s record heat and drought, with the recent rain, Sandy Creek at the base of Enchanted Rock was flowing and several waterfalls could be found flowing down Little Dome. The presence of water added a sense of balance that we had been missing for some time and I was grateful.

Sandy Creek
Crossing Sandy Creek on Summit Trail
Echo Canyon Trail
Sandy Creek Summit Trail
From our campsite to Summit Trail

There is life on top of this rock dome! In spite of harsh conditions, life goes on.

Vernal pools at the summit of Main Dome
Vernal pool at the summit of Main Dome, Freshman Mt in the distance

The Native American tribes that inhabited the area attributed magical and spiritual powers to the rock. The Tonkowa who lived here in the sixteenth century heard unexplained creaking and groaning coming from Enchanted Rock at night. Geologists have explained this is the result of cooling and contraction of the rock at night after daytime heating by the sun. When I heard about this, I knew we had to camp here.

Looking toward Walnut Springs Primitive Camping Area

I’ve realized the best trips turn out to be the ones of which I have little or no expectation. I think it’s because I become more open to possibility. Lesson #4: The next time I’m expecting something close to nirvana at a sacred place, I might want to stop and reel it in to something a little more realistic. I do think I expected something powerful. I know I did. Maybe if I hadn’t been looking for what I expected, I would have found it. If anything, this trip taught me to loosen my expectations a bit. Or maybe a lot.

We didn’t experience the “voices” of the rock at night, but Β my youngest daughter and I did hear the coyotes howling that night. It was a first for her. I thought she might be scared, but instead, her face lit up and she said, “Now that’s cool!”

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7 thoughts on “Enchanted Rock”

    1. Thanks, that means a lot. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Being a parent is the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done, but also the most fun…most of the time! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment!

  1. I agree with westerner54, your honesty is wonderful. I don’t have children, but I can imagine that it’s no always easy, and there are probably times you want to leave them home, or not take them back home. πŸ™‚ But what you are giving them this year, with your goal to visit 12 state parks is so amazing. You’re showing them alternatives on how to spend their free time, and what kind of neat stuff they can do once they’re on their own in the world.

    I’ve also had trips where I had such high expectations and was disappointed- and vice versa, the best trips have been the ones with no expectations. A good thing to remember as spring is close and our road tripping season around the corner πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, marcelledanielle! I am glad you enjoyed it. Ha, ha, yes, I found myself wishing I had let them go visit their grandparents for that trip! I do think camping, for the most part, brings out the best in all of us, even if it was lacking on that trip! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope they look back on these campouts with fond memories and continue to love the outdoors! And I am learning, too, so it’s been good for all of us! I can’t wait to read about your road trips!

  2. What a cool story!

    It’s great to see you guys getting out there!
    I agree…one night out is kind of hard to adjust to… It’s funny you made that observation; I’ve actually been out close to home, with camp set up, sitting there thinking about being home…and packed up and left. I guess I just have to be far enough away from home to get in the right mindset.

    Enchanted Rock sounds and looks like a cool place!

    It would have been priceless to see the crazy lady on top of the big rock! lol
    Some of my friends used to make me feel that way after I got them out there…it goes to show that rain doesn’t always come in the form of water… πŸ˜‰

    You got some great shots! I love the way your daughters give perspective to the size of the boulders, and the spot under the rocks looks like the perfect spot to just kick back for a few.

    I really enjoyed reading this, and being able to relate to your frustration brought back memories of some of my first trips.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Joe! Ha, ha, the crazy lady at the top of the rock was indeed a sight! Oh, well. Very true, rain does comes in all forms! It was definitely a learning experience!

      It’s interesting that you mentioned that spot under the rocks being the perfect spot to take a break. It is just behind those rocks that I took the other two pictures from inside the crevice. It was a welcome respite!

      Thank you for stopping by, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the pics!

  3. I have made the long drive to Enchanted Rock twice on weekends and it was closed. Once because it was too full, and once because they had allowed quail hunting in the park that weekend. I had no idea (and I was not happy either time). I have been there other times and it is magical. Great photos.

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