Barton Springs and Krause Springs, Austin TX
DATES OF SWIM: 2/18, 2/19, 2/20/22
Barton Springs is a swimmer's paradise - 68 degrees year round and a controlled open water pool environment. I even saw a crawfish! The trip to Austin also included a short 45-minute road trip to Krause Springs, a natural spring outside of the city at the edge of Hill Country.
4 miles at Barton Springs
68 degrees F
A Dream, Realized
I've wanted to explore Barton Springs for about a decade, and now working for Indeed.com, an Austin-based company, I finally had a real push to visit the city and the springs. I even wanted to visit Barton Springs before I started open water swimming, so you can imagine how much the desire has grown over these last four years of OWS!
A little about this swimming paradise for some background - Barton Springs is fed by a natural underground spring and is 68 degrees year round. It sits within Zilker Park, part of the Barton Springs Greenbelt (12 miles of climbing, bouldering, biking, swimming and hiking). The Barton Springs pool itself is huge - three acres! Swimming four lengths of it (so, 8x down and back) equals a mile. It really feels like you're swimming open water but you're actually in a pool. No buoy required! When I visited, the pool was also free to enter every day! Normally, it appears to be $2 to $5 for residents and $4 to $9 for non-residents. At its deepest point it's 40 feet.
Barton Springs has long been thought to be a sacred purification ground by the Tonkawa tribe that first inhabited the area. The springs is home to an endemic species of salamander, the "Barton Springs salamander." The salamander is endangered - it relies on clear water from the springs to survive and urban runoff threatens its existence. Pool maintenance practices from 1972-1990 apparently caused a decline in salamander numbers, but now the pool is rigorously maintained to prevent further threats. Aquatic vegetation has also been planted in the pool by the city's Environmental and Conservation Services Department to encourage the health of these endangered salamanders.
I didn't get to see a salamander while I was swimming, but I did have my very first crawfish sighting! (I've never even eaten one!)
I am visiting Austin again in April for work and I can't wait to take some time to explore Barton Springs Greenbelt and also swim in the pool again. Austin is truly amazing - a naturally spring fed pool right in the city that's 220 yards in length? I'm there!
My coworkers and I also rented a car and drove 45 minutes through Hill Country outside of Austin to privately owned Krause Springs in Spicewood, TX. Krause Springs is a popular camping and swimming spot which has over 32 springs on the property. It has two beautiful spring-fed pools, one natural and one man-made. The property also has an enchanting wind chime garden with the biggest wind chimes I've ever seen in my life.
At the springs, we played with the rope swing and swam in the natural pool. It was gorgeous and sunny, around 70 degrees outside. The water was chillier than Barton Springs, probably closer to 60. The springs were definitely pretty empty - apparently we're a bit crazy for wanting to swim in February in Austin.
We also went to a vineyard (there are a few around Krause Springs!) and ate BBQ at popular joint Opie's after - a perfect Texas day trip!
Next time, I can't wait to visit the Blue Hole, Hamilton Pool, Lake Travis, Deep Eddy Pool and Jacob's Well. Austin is a swimming hole paradise!