Enchanted Rocks & Minerals on Llano’s historic courthouse square feels as timeless as the Precambrian rocks of the surrounding Llano Uplift. While small, family-run rock shops are getting harder to find in Texas, Enchanted Rocks caters to an abiding pastime.
“We’re a dying breed,” says Frank Rowell, who runs the store with his wife, Patricia Felts, a skilled lapidary and jeweler. “There aren’t many mom-and-pop rock shops like ours anymore. It’s a tricky business to get into, and it was a lot easier 40 years ago than it is today.”
During the ongoing pandemic, Frank and Patricia limit shop hours to Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. The shop sell rocks, minerals, and semi-precious stones, as well as handcrafted silver jewelry, rugs and blankets, figurines, wind chimes, T-shirts, books, and rock hunting tools.
Frank and Patricia also freely dispense advice for rock hunting in the area, which teems with some of the oldest rocks in Texas. Along with common granite, gneiss, and schist outcroppings, collectors find smoky quartz, galena, serpentine, rare earth minerals, and even traces of gold in the Llano River. Most prized are topaz from Mason County and llanite, an unusual type of granite flecked with blue quartz crystals.
Despite a slowdown in Llano tourism during the pandemic, Frank reports business is still pretty good on weekends. “I’ve been surprised by the response,” Frank says. “People who collect rocks keep coming in from all over. When you need a rock, you need a rock. You just can’t wait.”
A Llano Tradition
“People have come by this shop for decades,” Frank says. “When we moved over here [in 2008], we tried to keep things similar to how they were originally [when the shop first opened in the mid-1960s]. It was always the kind of place you could bring rocks into to identify. We still do that all the time. A quarter to one third of the rocks in the shop are from Texas, and we have exotic stuff from all over.”
Local Rock Hunting
“Some customers get the urge to go out and find their own rocks,” Frank says. “We give them a little bit of information, and they come back and tell us they’ve had the best day of their life. And all they’ve picked up is just rocks.
“We have great access to the Llano River in town,” Frank adds. “A popular collecting spot is below the city dam between the river banks. Every time the river rises, it leaves something interesting. A number of Llano River crossings south of Mason are also interesting—look for the gravel bars. You can rock hunt on roadsides as long as you stay on public land—just don’t cross fence lines.
“It’s a treasure hunt anyone can go on,” Patricia says. “You don’t need high-tech equipment. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to go to some exotic location. There are rocks everywhere.”
“More people like rock collecting than you’d imagine,” Frank says. “It’s always a surprise. It still baffles me what they do you do with the rocks.”
“I think people just like to look at them,” Patricia says. “We get quite a few New Agers who are interested in the healing properties of rocks and crystals.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect cities and towns across the state, Texas Highways asked our writers to share stories of adversity, recovery and strength in Texas’ small business community. We also checked in with businesses we’ve covered in the past and invited members of Texas travel associations to give us an update on how they’re doing and how you can support them. Click here to explore our map of nearly 500 small businesses.