While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Martin Donell Kohout

ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is on Sandy Creek and Ranch Road 965 at the Gillespie-Llano county line, eighteen miles north of Fredericksburg. The 1,643-acre park is roughly triangular, and Enchanted Rock is near its center. The first owners of this land were Anavato and María Martínez, to whom a headright certificate was issued on March 16, 1838. They sold it to James Robinson in 1841, and he in turn sold it to Samuel A. Maverick in 1844. Maverick, believing that Enchanted Rock might prove to be a source of mineral wealth, had part of the property surveyed in 1847, and it was patented to him by the state on September 22, 1851. Maverick's widow sold the property to N. P. P. Browne in 1880–81; on February 19, 1886, Browne sold it to John R. Moss, who sold it to J. D. Slator later that year. Two ranching brothers, C. T. and A. F. Moss, bought the property from Slator in 1895 and in November 1897 partitioned it between them, except for Enchanted Rock itself, which they held in common. Eventually C. T. Moss acquired his brother's holdings, and in 1927 C. T.'s son Tate inherited the property and opened it to the tourist trade. On October 26, 1946, he sold it to Albert Faltin, who later sold a half interest to Llano rancher Charles H. Moss, C. T.'s grandson. Charles and his wife, Ruth, managed and eventually acquired full title to the property but decided to sell it in 1978. Moss first offered it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but the agency could not pay his price. The Nature Conservancy, a private concern based in Arlington, Virginia, bought the property for $1.3 million on March 1, 1978, and agreed to act as interim owner until the state could take over, thus guaranteeing that the area would not be opened to private development. United States secretary of the interior Cecil Andrus told Governor Dolph Briscoe that a federal land and water conservation grant would be made available for purchase of the area when matched by state funds, and the Nature Conservancy deeded the land to the state on March 7, 1978, with the agreement that Moss would continue to operate it until June 1 of that year.

Besides Enchanted Rock itself, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area includes Turkey Peak and Enchanted Rock Cave among its natural features, as well as a wide variety of native flora and fauna. Among the more than 400 species of plants in the park are live oak, Texas hickory, blackjack oak, cedar, American elm, honey mesquite, and pecan trees; lily yucca, prickly pear, barrel cactus, strawberry cactus, and pencil cactus; and about 100 species of mosses, lichens, and liverworts. Animals found in the park include white-tailed deer, armadillos, bobcats, raccoons, black rock squirrels, red foxes, cotton rats, four kinds of hawk, turkeys, great horned owls, turkey vultures, copperheads, diamondbacks, cottonmouths, bull snakes, checkered ribbon snakes, and spotted whiptails. The park also contains some 114 archeological sites, at which various Indian artifacts have been unearthed. The area has long been a favorite destination of hikers, campers, rock-climbers, hang-gliders, and other outdoor enthusiasts from around the state. In 1977 an estimated 50,000 people visited the area; the park drew 30,000 visitors in three months when it reopened in March 1984 after eighteen months of renovation. With $1.9 million in improvements made during those months, in 1986 the park had a new headquarters building, a visitors' center, fifty-two tent sites, sixty primitive campsites, forty picnic sites, and numerous hiking trails. Nearby places of interest include the towns of Fredericksburg and Llano and the Lyndon B. Johnson State Historic Park.


Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1983). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Martin Donell Kohout, "ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA," accessed May 27, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/gie01.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 18, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...