Legends of Enchanted Rock

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Tony Maples Photography


The Texas Hill Country is filled with history and glorious views. Many places also come with stories and legends passed down from generation to generation. It makes it a bit more thrilling and exciting to keep these stories alive for the locals and tourists. Some are believers and others are not — you can decide for yourself.

Take Enchanted Rock for example. It is the most serene place to visit and a magnificent viewing of what nature has provided for all to enjoy.  It is a magical place to photograph, hike, explore, read, write, paint, and escape the sounds of everyday noise of a town. People seem to flock from miles just to see this magnificent granite dome in southwestern Llano County. It’s located about 20 miles north of Fredericksburg and has long been the center of various legends.

Enchanted Rock

Photo: Jim Nix

There are many folk tales about Enchanted Rock, and each one of them is extremely interesting.

Comanche and Tonkawa Indians both feared and revered this rock. Supposedly there were human sacrifices made at the base. One Indian tradition holds that a band of its bravest warriors, the last of their tribe, tried desperately to defend themselves on top of the rock from the attacks of rival Indians. The warriors lost their battle and all were savagely killed. It’s said that since that fateful day Enchanted Rock has been haunted by their ghosts.

One of the most enduring and romantic stories involving Enchanted Rock was of a young Spanish soldier, Don Jesús Navarro, and his rescue of an Indian maiden named Rosa. Navarro had come from Monterrey to San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission in San Antonio in 1750. At that mission he met and fell in love with Rosa, a Christian daughter of the Indian chief Tehuan.  Rosa was kidnapped by a band of Comanche’s bent on sacrificing her to the spirits of Enchanted Rock. Her daring lover followed them there and managed to rescue her just as she was about to be burned at the stake. It is said that the two lover’s souls still remain on the highest point of the rock today.

Another legend tells of an Indian princess who threw herself off of the highest point of the rock when she witnessed her tribe being slaughtered by enemy Indians; now her spirit is said to haunt Enchanted Rock.

Yet another tale tells of the spirit of an Indian chief who was doomed to walk the summit forever as punishment because he sacrificed his own daughter. There are indentations on the rock’s summit and it is said to be his footprints.

Enchanted Rock Summit

Photo: Rhianna H.

On the big summit of this rock, given official credence when the state of Texas commemorated it with a plaque near the gigantic rock in 1936, it relates a heroic episode in the life of Capt. John Coffee Hays. Cut off by Comanche raiders from his company of Texas Rangers on a surveying trip in the fall of 1841. Hays took refuge on Enchanted Rock and singlehandedly held off the Indians in a three-hour battle that ended when the frustrated Indians fled; convinced firmly that Enchanted Rock was possessed by malevolent spirits.

Finally, there is yet another version of a white woman who was kidnapped by Indians, she escaped and lived on Enchanted Rock for many months until she succumbed to starvation and dehydration. People claim to hear her screams on the darkest of nights.

The Indian legends of the haunting of Enchanted Rock were probably bolstered by the way the rock glistens on clear nights after a rain. There have been reports of creaking noises on cool nights after warm days.

Scientists have taken on a whole new view of this and have studied every inch of this rock. They believe the glistening is caused by water being trapped in the indentations on the rock’s surface or by the moon glow reflecting off wet feldspar. They continue to say the creaking noises are due to contraction of the rock’s outer surface as it cools.

A number of stories involve rumors of great mineral wealth to be found at Enchanted Rock. Spanish explorers believed it was one large chunk of silver or iron. They also sought legendary gold and silver mines nearby, and some early Texans believed that the lost “Bowie Mines” were in the vicinity west of Enchanted Rock. Some gold has in fact been mined near Enchanted Rock, but not enough to be profitable.  In 1834 it was reported that the contained platinum, but that has been disputed in more recent years.

No matter what you choose to believe, Enchanted Rock is a sight not to be missed.  It is a stunning view within a peaceful setting.