An enormous pink granite batholith that rises 450 feet out of the Texas Hill Country, north of Fredericksburg. Only the tip of the rock (640 acres) is exposed; the rest spans almost 90 subterranean square miles. It's the second-largest such formation in the United States. It was privately owned for many years, but was bought by the Nature Conservancy in 1978 and then acquired by the State of Texas in 1984. It's now a State Natural Area.

The previous owners, the Moss family, operated a park there for many years. While it was privately owned, prospecting for quartz crystals, garnets and other gems was typical and allowed. (This is no longer the case! Removing rocks is now against the law.) See the note at the end for my personal story about this.

The rock has always been a point of interest to people in the area. Comanche and Tonkawa people are said to have placed sacrifices at its base, in a mixture of fear and reverence. Several different legends hold that it is haunted by ghosts. These legends may have gotten their start because the rock makes a variety of creaking and groaning noises on cool nights after warm days.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has facilities for camping, picnicking, hiking, and backpacking. The rock also boasts the best beginning to advanced rock climbing and bouldering in central Texas.

OK, now for my story: When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my family went to Enchanted Rock for a day outing. My parents were interested in nature, and family activities included birdwatching, learning about plants and wildlife and geology. My dad had a geology pick and was looking for quartz crystals. He had found some and was using the pick to dislodge them. I felt a sting, and put my hand behind my back. Soon, horrified, my dad ran over to me. I had blood all over my back. He was worried I had been hit in the back, but we figured out that it was just a spot at the base of my left index finger. A piece of something had flown off in my direction and, apparently, grazed my finger. It was deep, and still bleeding, so we packed up our stuff and went looking for medical attention. I remember the doctor first shot my finger full of anaesthetic, and then stitched me up.

A couple of years later, a friend of mine slammed my left hand in a car door. Swelling, discoloration and a trip to the emergency room ensued. X-rays revealed one bone fracture, and something curious: A small x-ray-opaque blob between the knuckles of the index and middle fingers. It could be a piece of my dad's geology pick, but I like to think it's a piece of Enchanted Rock. More than 30 years later, it's still there.