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Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs PoolBarton Springs Pool

Barton Springs is a revered natural wonder in Austin. It spews 27 million gallons of pristine water daily from its main underground spring, and the water temperature is a constant 68 degrees. Although it appears to lie in the creek bed of Barton Creek, it is actually 100% spring water: the creek is diverted through a tunnel under the north sidewalk to bypass the swimming pool. The exiting creek creates a wonderful rustic spot for dogs and families to enjoy the rushing water and waterfall just...

Barton Springs is a revered natural wonder in Austin. It spews 27 million gallons of pristine water daily from its main underground spring, and the water temperature is a constant 68 degrees. Although it appears to lie in the creek bed of Barton Creek, it is actually 100% spring water: the creek is diverted through a tunnel under the north sidewalk to bypass the swimming pool. The exiting creek creates a wonderful rustic spot for dogs and families to enjoy the rushing water and waterfall just below the pool's dam. This is not the pool proper (enter by the side limestone stairs outside the pool's fence); visitors can swim in the creek for free.

A devoted following of folks swim in Barton Springs Pool year round. Lifeguards are on duty during most daytime hours. The pool is part of Zilker Park, City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, and is open to everyone.

The pool has free admission in early morning, late evening, and all day long during the winter months. This free time has created a culture of regulars: Swimmers who are usually the most dedicated and reverent to the "Barton Springs experience." They speak of their pool time in worshipful tones. The public dressing rooms, separate for men and women, allow open-air places to change, sunbathe, and shower.

The springs were created in geologic time as part of the Balcones Fault about 15 million years ago. Similar springs in the town of San Marcos, just 45 minutes south of Austin, show archeological evidence of continual human habitation for 11,500 years. (The Edwards Aquifer Website) It seems natural to imagine that Barton Springs could also be a site of very ancient human activity.

The peace and beauty create a magical aura. It has been called "the soul of Austin." At the entrance stands a sculpture known as the Philosopher's Rock. These are three famous Austin men who enjoyed friendship and conversation at the Springs: Bedicheck, a naturalist, J. Frank Dobie, a folklorist, and Walter Prescott Webb, a historian. These men would gather on a flat rock near the diving board and talk. The sculpture is by Santa Fe artist Glenna Goodacre.

Special events at the Pool - Whenever there's a full moon, swimmers go a bit wild to celebrate with primitive revelry: They howl at the moon and some make music. Also, on New Year's Day, the swimmers enjoy their annual Polar Bear Swim and they bring pot luck food to share.

Special animal at the Pool - The Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum) is only known to exist in Barton Springs Pool and its vicinity. That's why this creature is on the list of Endangered Species since 1998. Protected against swimmers, these critters are just another sign of the special character of Barton Springs Pool.

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Address:
2201 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78704
Directions:
Hours:
The pool is open from 5 am - 10 pm daily year-round; closed every Thurs. 9 am - 7 pm for cleaning. Lifeguards are there for part of the open time, generally 8 am - 10 pm in summer, shorter hours in winter. Closed for one week in early March for annual cleaning. The full schedule is here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/pools_schedule.htm#BartonSprings
Admission:
Summer (mid March through October) daily admission prices: Senior $1, Adult $3, ages 12-17 $2, ages 11 and under $1. Swimming is free, however, before 9 am and after 9 pm daily. NOTE: summer parking fees apply on weekends: $3 per vehicle. Winter: free admission.
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