Nature

Enchanted Rock: Are We Loving it to Death?

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The above view of FM 965 outside of our beloved Enchanted Rock State Natural Area was taken Saturday morning just after 9 a.m. The park was about to close to new visitors because there were only about 15 parking spaces left. This scene is repeated every weekend and holiday.

Only a few of these autos will get in the park.

Enchanted Rock Traffic South View

Photo: Troy Kneese

The problem isn’t the lack of planning or effort on the part of the park staff – which is quite small – it is that this park wasn’t designed and isn’t staffed for this kind of visitation. Enchanted Rock SNA is getting hammered, and it shows in deteriorating facilities and trails, shortages of water, and wastewater treatment problems. Adding more parking spaces isn’t the answer; that has been tried, and it didn’t help. The staff is dedicated and professional, but they are getting hammered, too. Last year’s visitation of 344,900 people reflects the trend of increasing visitation in Texas State Parks.

Prickly Pear Cactus Flower – both spectacular and delicate at the same time.

ERSNA Prickly Pear Cactus Flowers

Photo: Robert C Deming

The prickly pear cactus is blooming along the Loop Trail right now and is one of the many reasons why we love it. Before you visit, understand that the traffic jam is repeated every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday until it gets hot, so a weekday visit is much less stressful. Check the park’s website for rules and operating hours before your visit. Last minute updates are made on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Know that the park staff is doing everything they can, and that even with many volunteers helping in the park, there isn’t a way to handle this many people elegantly. Also, if you wait in that line and get in the park, don’t be frustrated, be grateful that you are there.

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