If you are going on a road trip this spring break, you might consider Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg in the Hill Country. Not only is it beautiful and mystical, it will allow the kids to burn off a lot of energy by climbing the rock or hiking the trails. And because it’s located in a state park, the admission fees are only $7/adults with kids 12 and under free! If you’re into camping and want to make your stay inexpensive, there is camping allowed at the site.
Kids love nature and can run around uninhibited. Nature is relaxing and grounding for all of us so take advantage of visiting this beautiful rock in our own state, the largest of its kind in the US!
What is Enchanted rock? It is a massive pink granite dome, or the technical term, monadnock. What is a monadnock? I had to look that one up: an isolated rock hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain.
Why is it called “enchanted?” The local Tonkawa, Apache and Comanche tribes believed the rock had magical and spiritual powers. In the 16th century the Tonkawa believed that ghost fires flickered at the top of the dome because they heard unexplained creaking and groaning. Geologists gave it a much more practical explanation. They attributed the sounds to the rock contracting at night after being heated by the sun during the day.
There are many more legends attributed to this lovely rock, some mythical, some sad.
On our visit we saw people (and dogs) of all ages, even parents climbing the rock with their babies strapped onto them. You know your children best. If they are young but can make the climb, bring them. Or just climb as far as you can or stick to the trails on the ground.
Since I am an advocate of teaching your kids while having fun to stimulate their brain and make them smarter, here are some things you can discuss with your children while visiting Enchanted Rock. Remember, this can be quick and fun. You don’t need to spend an hour trying to hold your child’s attention to teach them. Just mix in some fun questions while you are exploring the area.
Many of these questions can be answered by reading the placards at the base. Use them as an opportunity to question or discuss.
As an example of how to mix in the learning, as we started to climb the rock I saw mistletoe hanging in the trees and pointed it out to my son. I told him it was a parasite and asked him if he knew what that was. Then he asked me why do people kiss under the mistletoe? He stumped me! I didn’t know how that tradition started, but said we could google it later.
Here are some questions to get you started on your educational journey at Enchanted Rock:
For 2s and 3s:
- Count how many steps you take. Younger children obviously won’t be able to count as high so do what you can.
- Count how many dogs you see. Identify their breeds if you can.
- Identify colors.
- Touch different (non-dangerous or non-sticky) plants to feel textures.
- Point out the colors in the rock.
- Play I-spy searching for colors, animals, plants etc.
For 4s & 5s:
- Count how many steps you take.
- Point out how some rocks seem to form natural steps.
- Time how long it takes you to get to the top or other spot. Look at your watch together or set the stopwatch on your phone. Remember to look at it again when you reach your destination!
- Why do campers hang their trash in the trees?
- Talk about cactus, identify yucca and explain how they are succulents. Identify and discuss other native plants. My son was fascinated with the stickers on the cactus. Younger kids may want to touch them too. Proceed at your own risk!
- Notice mistletoe in the trees. Discuss that it is a parasite. Speak in terms younger children will understand.
- Notice odd rock formation shapes and discuss what they look like to you. Does it look like a giant mushroom? We saw one that did.
- Discuss what a legend or myth is. If you feel comfortable, google the reasons why this is called “enchanted” rock and discuss them.
- What does “enchanted” mean? (Not the movie!)
- Play “follow the leader.”
- How high do you think this rock is?
- How big do you think this rock is?
- Read the placards at the base to learn that this rock is called a monadnock and how far and big it reaches underground.
- How old do you think this rock formation is?
- What caused this unique rock formation?
- Follow the signs to the trail.
- What is a park ranger and what do they do?
- Notice and discuss the difference between the granite and the limestone rocks.
- Identify different types of birds.
- For children of all ages, at the base there are telescopes you can put a few coins in to admire and study the view.
- There are public restrooms available – the real kind, not port-o-potties!
- Dogs are now only allowed on the Loop Trail, not the Summit Trail.
- The park has picnic tables so you can pack a lunch and eat there.
- The park store is open on week-ends and some week-days and sells food and treats.
- Bring your own drinking water, none is available at the park.
- When parking is full, the park will close for up to three hours as early as 10am.
- The Summit Trail may close in wet weather as the rock can get slippery when wet.
- Be sure to bring your camera or cell phone as there are great views at the top and photo opps among the many boulders and odd shaped rocks. Bring a selfie stick too so you can capture your entire family.
- If you’re into bird watching be sure to bring your binoculars as this park is designated a key bird-watching site.
ADDRESS: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
FEES: $7/Adults, 12 & under – Free
HOURS: Open daily 8am -10pm
If you like what you read about teaching your kids, then check out my book, Kidding Around Town, the parents go-to guide. It’s on sale for $4 off! It will be your favorite guide of kids activities in Dallas Fort Worth.