The website warns you that it’s crowded. Even then, I was unprepared for the number of visitors at Enchanted Rock.
Enchanted Rock is a state natural area. It’s in Fredericksburg, Texas. The park isn’t very large in size, compared to a lot of other parks. It’s main attraction is this large pink granite hill.
During the last weekend of Spring Break, we took the kids to Enchanted Rock. I had gone there as a college student, but had not gone since then. My husband had never been. I remembered that the park fills to capacity, so we drove up from Houston the night before and stayed at a nearby hotel.
We pulled up to the park at 8am and there was already a line of cars parked to get in. I expected that, but was surprised at how long the line was. It stretched on for more than a mile. We waited in our car for an hour as cars slowly pulled up, paid the entrance fee and parked. By the time our car pulled in, the parking lot was already full and the park was closed.
BUT.. once the parking lot fills, the park staff gives the next 200 cars a pass that assures them entrance to the park anytime after 1pm. You still have to pay the entrance fee, but you know you won’t be turned away.
After 1pm, we came back to the park along with the 199 other cars that had a ticket. Without a ticket, rangers weren’t letting anyone else into the park that day. We waited less than an hour to get in. I recommend bringing cash. If you have cash, you can pay the ranger as to pull in. Otherwise, you have to park and go inside the office to pay.
Luckily, we got to the park in time to attend ranger led hike on the Summit trail. I’ve hiked this trail multiple times. In fact, it’s probably the only trail I’ve hiked in the park since it goes all the way to the top, but this was my first time doing a ranger led hike.
I love ranger led hikes. They’re educational, and whether state or national park, we’ve always found that the rangers we’ve met have been engaging with the kids. We learned about how Enchanted Rock came to be and about the fairy shrimp in the pools at the top of rock.
It was a lot easier climbing Enchanted Rock when I was in my 20s! But the hike isn’t too hard. The hike is steep and smooth granite. To save your ankles you might want to make your own switchbacks and walk in a zig zag line. The length makes up for the incline. It’s short so you can take your time. For those reasons, I would describe it as more moderately strenuous, rather than strenuous. We saw a lot of families on this trail. Mostly kids running up the hill and parents taking their time.
The views from the top are amazing. You can definitely take your time and snap photos along the way. My eldest liked taking photos. My two younger ones liked scampering up and down, climbing rocks.
There are also flat trails in the park, at the bottom of the rock. On a clear night, the sky fills up with stars. We didn’t stay that long, but I’ve always wanted to camp at Enchanted Rock for that reason. Not surprising, the park is also a favorite place for rock climbers.
We spent only a couple of hours at the park. When the park ranger asked us where we were from and we said Houston. She said, oh I hope you didn’t come all the way up here just for the park.
We did and we didn’t. I wanted to take my kids here, but you can definitely fill the rest of your trip visiting other parts of the hill country like Fredericksburg, or farther out to San Antonio or even Austin. Spring time is especially nice with wildflowers growing everywhere.