Local Attractions

What to See & Do in Castell, Texas

Hike Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock is a 425-foot batholith climb and where you can hike nearly eight miles of trails including the famous Summit Trail, which features 360-degree views of the Texas Hill Country at the top. Stick around after dark and enjoy a night hike or stargazing, as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the few International Dark Sky Parks in Texas. There are three primitive camping areas for those who like to get away from it all.

The name “Enchanted Rock” is thought to come from the Tonkawa, who heard spirits “groaning” when the rock cooled at night. Climbing this stunning pink-granite batholith is still on the top-ten list of things to do in Texas. And, thankfully, the view is as striking. The slope is steep—on average it’s greater than 30 degrees—but don’t be put off. Granite has a high coefficient of friction, and even the most inexperienced hikers can make it to the top with a little friendly encouragement. From 1,825 feet above sea level the dusty browns, greens, and grays of the Llano Uplift disappear into a blur on the western horizon. Look around for weathered pits in the rock, called gnammas, where ferns and grasses grow on blown-in soil.

Close by, on the north face, is Enchanted Rock Cave, another rite of passage that takes about 45 minutes to crawl through. (There’s often a line to get through the cave, so more-adventurous types can scout out other fissures on the backside of the rock that is great for spelunking and bouldering; beginners should try the routes called Sanders Traverse and Lunch Rock.)

After you’ve soaked up the scenery, eaten your picnic, or exchanged vows—yes, weddings have been performed here—make your way down the south slope to Echo Canyon and follow the path back to Moss Lake. From here you can pick up the Loop Trail and circumnavigate the entire formation. Enchanted Rock is also a great place to experiment with backcountry camping, as the park’s three primitive camping areas are fairly close; Moss Lake is less than a mile. Going to bed under a blanket of stars and waking up to a hot cup of coffee and a view of this entrancing dome is one of the best experiences Texas has to offer.

Enchanted Rock is a place of natural beauty and history (created 1.1 billion years ago), and it’s a must-see destination when staying at Castell Cabins! Make sure to check on making a reservation in advance.

~ 40 MILES FROM OUR CABINS / 24 MILES SOUTH OF LLANO (Unless you take the county road scenic shortcut, wink wink)
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The Town of Llano, Texas

The peaceful Llano River winds through fields of bluebonnets and boulders of granite, lead you to the charming Texas Hill Country town of Llano in the Texas Hill Country. Visit Llano and you’ll be greeted with outdoor adventures, some of the best deer hunting in Texas, and an inviting historic downtown with a movie theater, unique shopping, and a one-of-a-kind coffee house that often hosts live music.

Spend a day hiking Enchanted Rock or attend a rodeo. There are several arts, music, and nature festivals in Llano throughout the year that provides that iconic Texas experience you’re looking for. A little more than an hour northwest of Austin, Llano offers an idyllic setting to slow down and connect with nature.

You’ll find an abundance of outdoor recreation in Llano. It’s known as the “Deer Capital of Texas,” and rightfully so. Thousands of hunters from across the globe travel to Llano from November through early January to take advantage of some of the best deer hunting in the state. Of course, the Llano River is a big draw with its pristine flowing waters that are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk across the river on Inks Bridge — one of the best places to watch a sunset in Llano. Learn to fly fish on the river with our partner outfitter @fisherofzen.

Llano is a designated Texas Main Street community with its well-preserved downtown and historic buildings. The Llano County Courthouse was built in 1893 and is one of the most breathtaking historic courthouses in Texas. On Saturdays, you can tour the Llano County Red Top Jail, which was built in the late 1800s out of Llano County granite and served as the county jail from 1895 to 1982. Both are good examples of Romanesque Revival-style architecture common for the time period. To get a full understanding of the town and county’s history, head to the Llano County Historical Museum.

The Town of Llano, Texas

While you’re in Llano, share a bucket of buttered popcorn when you see a movie at the historic LanTex Theater downtown. If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, you can watch a live music performance by the Heart of Texas Country Music Association’s Llano Country Opry. Then head to Fuel Coffee House in an ornate Main Street building for a cup of joe and, if you time it right, live music on their stage as well.

With fairly moderate weather, anytime is a great time to visit Llano. But you might want to plan your trip around an event. There are several festivals in Llano throughout the year that are the perfect excuse to get away. Rodeos, holiday celebrations, and cultural gatherings abound here.

In the spring, you can learn to stack rocks at the Llano Earth Art Festival (LEAF), tour artist studios and shop for your own masterpiece at the Llano Art Studio Tour, watch some of the state’s best fiddlers compete at Llano Fiddle Fest, and eat some tasty crawfish at the Llano Crawfish Open.

The Llano Heritage Weekend each October celebrates the town’s history and embraces its future while serving up a warm chuckwagon dinner with live reenactments, music, and a rodeo.


The Town of Mason, Texas

Mason is known as the “Gem of the Hill Country” and the only place in Texas where you can find Texas Topaz in nature. But if you day trip here, you’ll find that the whole town sparkles with culture, history, great people and excellent food and wine tasting!

To truly understand the love behind such Texas wines, visit the source in Mason, Texas! While there, connect with the spirit behind the wines by enjoying tastings at the local wineries’ in the historic Mason town square — where you’ll meet the winemakers of these exquisite Texas wines while sipping a glass of their latest vintage!

These “Grower Wineries” are great daytime excursions and offer you an intimate wine tasting experience involving everything from vine to glass. And, if you aren’t able to visit during their business hours, or you want to taste a broader range of Texas wines, consider one of the many wine shops located on the Mason Square. These shops specialize in 100% Texas grown wines from Mason County and beyond.

Here is our list…Enjoy 🍷!

  • Robert Clay Winery & Tasting Room @robertclayvineyards
  • Murphy Creek Cellars @murphycreekcellars
  • Saba Winery @sabawinery
  • Fly Gap Winery @flygapwinery
  • Parr Vineyards @parrvineyards
  • Sandstone Cellars Winery @sandstonecellarwinery
  • Dotson Cervantes Wines @dotsoncervantes
  • 1900 Winery (in Art, Texas)


The Town of Fredericksburg, Texas

A Texas road trip isn’t complete without spending a few days in the “Deutschtexaner” town of Fredericksburg. Centrally located just an hour outside of Austin and San Antonio and only a short, 45-minute drive from our cabins, take the easy scenic drive. With 1.2 million visitors a year, the Fredericksburg region is the most popular wine-tasting destination in Texas (and 2nd most in the US). Between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, dozens of wineries and wine-tasting rooms have popped up in recent years, along with several breweries and distilleries.

Strolling Main Street you will find more than 150 unique shops and boutiques filled with home goods, clothing, locally-made soaps and lotions, handmade boots, the best in specialty foods like dips, jams and jellies, and more.

A summertime tradition that can’t be missed is enjoying a juicy Fredericksburg peach straight from the orchard. Mid-May through mid-August, dozens of roadside stands are filled with bushels of just-picked peaches that are ready to be eaten.

In addition to fresh peaches, one can expect to find homemade peach cobbler and homemade peach ice cream, along with peach jams, jellies, and other fresh-from-the-farm produce waiting to be enjoyed.

Fredericksburg is also Texas Wine Country, where you’ll find dozens of Texas Hill Country wineries – from small urban wine tasting rooms located in the downtown historic district to large acreage vineyards located on the outskirts of Fredericksburg and nearby Stonewall — Or, travel on the “290 Wine Trail” where you can visit over 50+ unique and visually stunning wineries scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country, all around Castell, Texas — from Mason to Fredericksburg to Johnson City and beyond!

Also, don’t miss the National Museum of the Pacific War’s brand new Admiral Nimitz Gallery, which opened in February 2020, bringing dozens of artifacts and exhibits to the public for the first time. For the latest information and details on visiting the nine-acre campus, be sure to visit pacificwarmuseum.org.


Wine Tasting

There are over 50+ unique and visually stunning wineries scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country, all around Castell, Texas—from Mason to Fredericksburg to Johnson City and beyond!

As a result, there’s someplace new to explore around every bend along this wine corridor, which has quickly become one of the most visited wine regions, not to mention certified as the third largest “American Viticultural Area” with over 4,000 acres of wineries behind the Napa Valley regions.


The Joy of Gravel Grinding

Texas Cyclists Are Discovering the Joys of Gravel Grinding — Why many are exchanging paved roads and traffic for rural routes and breathtaking scenery.

Texas Monthly Article

Castell Gravel Grind

Join in on the “Castell Gravel Grind” one of the biggest gravel events in Texas, where they end enjoying the post-race ritual of chili, baked potatoes, and beer at the Castell General Store.

The Grind route starts and finishes at the bright yellow Castell General Store, funnels cyclists alongside the Llano River for eight miles, and features views of House Mountain, Kings Mountain, and Bodie Peak. Participants choose from three distances—100, 75, or 50 kilometers—all of which include a spin-up notorious Keyserville Road, where, as veterans put it, the carnage happens, with cyclists slogging uphill through the sand.

Event Website

The appeal of “gravel grinding,” a laid-back category of bicycling that takes riders off paved streets, where cars can whiz past at 60 miles an hour, and onto rural routes, where they’re more likely to encounter a slowly whirling windmill or curious farm animals.

Because gravel riders pedal roads that, though not paved, are built for motor vehicles, they won’t encounter the cyclist-launching obstacles—boulders, roots, rocky ledges—that mountain bikers love to conquer. Almost any sturdy bike with wide tires will do, although built-for-gravel bikes have become all the rage, with a more relaxed riding position and frames that are beefier than fine-boned road bikes but not as rugged as the mountain variety.

Golf in Llano

Nestled along the banks of the Llano River, the Llano River Golf Club boasts breathtaking views amongst the rolling hills and lush greenery of the Texas Hill Country. The fairways are well-manicured providing a semi-challenging, yet enjoyable round for players of all skill levels. The greens are smooth and steady, and arguably some of the best we’ve played anywhere – seriously!

The tranquil setting and atmosphere make this golf course a pleasant outing for golfers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city while staying with us at El Castell. Whether playing a round or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the river, this course offers a peaceful respite from the daily grind.

The Llano River Golf Club is host to the Llano Crawfish Golf tournament in April, open to anyone that wishes to try and win it all!


A Trek to Hill Top Café

Just a 30m drive toward Fredericksburg from El Castell you will find the Hill Top Café—an old Texas roadhouse along the Mason Highway. Opened in 1980 by Johnny Nicholas (of the band Asleep at the Wheel) and his wife Brenda (who was responsible for the recipes and culinary wizardry), this watering hole in the Texas Hill County is filled with cabaret posters, neon beer signs, and a large Texas personality, having organically grown from an unknown gas station, into a Zagat-rated restaurant known for consistency and uncompromising freshness.

“Inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere…” food and music-lovers gather to enjoy the sumptuous fare behind the backdrop of a unique Hill Country ambiance—hosting a famous Gospel Brunch on Sundays which has become a must-visit attraction in the area of Cherry Spring.

Johnny and Brenda both believe that anyone who shares their passions for all things real is part of the family and you are more than welcome, ‘cause like the old saying goes: “If you grin, you’re in!”


RockHounding the Llano Uplift

The more than 260 different types of minerals around Llano and Mason Counties brings an entire new meaning to picker’s paradise. Llano County is a certified gem in the Lone Star State, but it also has an international reputation as a world-class geological wonderland being one of the only places in the world where rockhounds can hope to find their own specimens of blue topaz (which also happens to be the state gemstone) and Llanite (a dark granite with blue crystal specks, found nowhere else in the world).

Typically, the Precambrian rocks, igneous and metamorphic, are buried deep below the surface under other rocks, but here on the Llano Uplift, we have granite—so you may find more minerals exposed or at least closer to the surface along with fossils and Crinoid Stems fossils or “sea lilies” which once lived at the bottom of the ocean and which at one time covered much of Texas.

Be sure to check out the Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry rock shop in Llano or the Mason Square Museum or join the Fredericksburg Rockhounds Club. Also fun is the annual Llano Earth Art Festival or “LEAF” that takes place in Llano in the spring.

More Local Geology