The second part of our blog on discovering some of the best national and state parks in Texas takes us to Hueco Tanks, Enchanted Rock and Padre Island. Each of these parks demonstrate the diversity that Texas has to offer in terms of landscape and of fauna and flora; and we start our exploration with the wonderful Hueco Tanks.
Hueco Tanks can be found just to the east of El Paso and is worthy of inclusion to our list due to its popularity among rock climbers. The surface of Hueco Tanks is perfect for climbing without ropes, as the ascents are quite low and there are plenty of hand and foot holds for support. These hand and foot holds were made by small water catchments, that were the main purpose for visitors of past generations. As the forefathers of Texas looked for places to drink, they migrated to Hueco Tanks and left their mark in thousands of ancient drawings. The pictographs depict what life was like long ago, with figures in elaborate garb, jaguars, deers, birds, corn and lightning bolts. The park is also home to the biggest amount of mask paintings in America and Canada. In all fairness, Hueco Tanks is like a time capsule which allows the modern day visitors to see how their heritage was formed in ancient times.
Enchanted Rock is one of the most fabulous geological features in Texas – rising high above the plains of Austin is a terrific five hundred feet high pink granite dome. Enchanted Rock is the second largest in the USA and it is estimated that it was formed a billion years ago. Officially, Enchanted Rock is termed a monadnock , an isolated mountain. It has attracted all manner of visitors for many different reasons for more twelve thousand years and has many symbolic overtones.
There are many tales and legends concerning Enchanted Rock, one of the most famous is the strange creaking and groaning sounds that seem to emanate from the very rock itself. Scientists have said it is the different layers of rock that contract and expand against each other during different temperatures. Many Comanche and Tonkawa revered and feared Enchanted Rock, and performed ceremonies and rites, leaving offerings and gifts.
Texas has a reputation for being mostly flat and dry, but as our two previous parks demonstrate, this is not always the case. Texas has over three hundred and fifty miles of coastline which takes in much of the Gulf of Mexico. Some of this coastline remains undeveloped and the Padre Island National Seashore is a prime example of that. It is a spit of tidal flats and dunes that cover seventy miles of coast, brimming with sea life.
Most visitors come to see the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles which are one of the rarest of their species in the world. The females travel over the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs on only two beaches and one of them is Padre Island. It is not only the wonderful turtles that naturists flock to Padre Island for, the spit of land is perfectly located under the Central Flyway, which is a major migratory route for many species of birds. Nearly four hundred different bird species have been documented from within the park. These national and state parks demonstrate the diversity of the landscape of the wonderful Lone Star state which is Texas.