Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Top choice park in Hill Country

Image by Paul S. Wolf Shutterstock

What's so enchanting about a rock? Well, when you see the pink granite dome dating from the Proterozoic era rising 425ft above ground – one of the largest batholiths in the US – you'll know you're not looking at any old rock. (And remember, that's just the part you can see; most of the rock formation is underground.) The dome heats up during the day and cools off at night, making a crackling noise that the Tonkawa people believed were ghost fires.

Two of the most popular activities at this much-visited park are hiking and rock climbing. The one-way Summit Trail to the top of the dome is 0.67 mile. The pleasant walk-in tent camping sites, with a picnic table and barbecue, are $18 per night, while primitive sites are $14 per night.

Enchanted Rock is 18 miles north of Fredericksburg off RR 965 and 24 miles south of Llano. It gets crowded on weekends, spring break and holidays, so get there early during peak times (by 11am at the latest). The park will close the gate and not allow anyone else to enter when the park is full.