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USA | SELECT CITY Arrow

Stargazing in Central Texas Featuring the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Easily accessed with the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE, Enchanted Rock Natural Area draws thousands of campers, hikers, stargazers, and geocache enthusiasts.

The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, and viewing them is absolutely awe-inspiring at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, an International Dark Sky Park in Fredericksburg. Easily accessed with the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport crossover SUV that we drove on the picturesque 95-mile jaunt from Austin, the massive pink granite dome-shaped rock formation draws thousands of campers, hikers, rock climbers, stargazers, and geocache enthusiasts annually.


Beefing Up


To get a protein-infused jump on our adventurous day, we lined up for lunch (an hour before opening) at Austin's wildly popular La Barbecue Texicana Cuisine (a shorter-wait yet competitive alternative to the nationally-famous Franklin Barbecue). Serving from a permanently-parked food trailer, La Barbecue offers mouthwateringly delicious smoked meats, occasional live music, and free beer on the weekends. And although the adjacent awning-covered picnic tables provide a nicely-shaded outdoor dining area, weather-appropriate attire is a must.



Water Doggin'


Utilizing the Outlander Sport's fuel-efficient 148-hp, 2.0-liter MIVEC engine, we headed west (averaging about 29 mpg on the highway, 26.5 mpg overall) and adeptly navigated the winding Hill Country terrain with help from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and anti-lock brake system. With reasonable acceleration and adequate power on steeply-graded pavement, the vehicle's active stability control (ASC) with traction control logic employed sensors which monitored the grip of each tire and kept us tight to the twisting, turning roads ... even when we found ourselves water doggin' down Pedernales Falls Road which had been overtaken by a gushing stream of excess rainfall along Flat Creek.


Ain't Nobody Feelin' No Pain


Twenty minutes west of Johnson City, a slight swing southward provided a short detour to the legendary Luckenbach, Texas, a meagerly-populated community immortalized in the famous country song recorded by Waylon Jennings featuring Willie Nelson. Visitors can get back to the basics by boot-scootin' around the dance hall, picking up a souvenir at the general store, or bringing along musical instruments for an impromptu jam session out under the oak trees. After making our way along the town loop (which, we coaxed ourselves, wasn't just someone's driveway), we enjoyed our early-afternoon travelling tunes via the Outlander's loud-and-proud 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system that delivered premium concert-like sound through 9 speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer with punch control, DTS neural surround, PremiDIA-wide surround, and cranked-up Dolby volume.


Take a Hike


Our unrestricted view through the fantastic LED-illuminated panoramic glass roof allowed us to keep track of changing weather conditions as the fluffy clouds floated out of sight and crisp clear skies became a translucent canvas for peering into the great beyond. After a determined twenty-minute walk (of moderate effort) up to the top of Enchanted Rock, we reached the summit in plenty of time to appreciate its 360-degree hilltop views, explore a small cave, and watch the golden glow of sunset before happily settling in at twilight for what turned out to be incredibly vivid stargazing on a very dark, barely-lit, new-moon evening. For overnight guests who are not camping at one of the park's walk-in tent pads (which includes a picnic table, grill, fire ring, and nearby water, restrooms, and showers) or backpacking to one of the available primitive sites (which requires a 1-3 mile hike on rugged terrain), travelers can settle in for a good night's rest at one of over 350 B&B's, guesthouses, hotels, and motels in the Fredericksburg area.


On the Road Again


After a careful headlamp-guided descent back down to the base level, we hopped into the Outlander Sport and immediately turned on the heated front seats which comfortably warmed our over-chilled muscles. Mitsubishi has concentrated its most recent efforts on developing a safe car at a reasonable price point for consumers; and our subsequent nighttime backtracking through the Texas Hill Country was made much easier thanks to the super-wide-angle high intensity discharge (HID) headlights which effectively allowed us to find [our] own lane.


Starting at just $22,795, the 2015 Outlander Sport SE is easy on the eyes as well as the budget. Its rugged exterior is coupled with intentionally-modest yet functional interior styling, and the vehicle's features make it an IIHS Top Safety Pick for this year due in part to its 7 standard airbags, reinforced impact safety evolution (RISE) body style, FAST-key electronic entry, push button start, 6.1 inch touchscreen with rearview camera, and much-appreciated height-adjustable front shoulder belts.


See additional information below or visit:

Mitsubishi Motors

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

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