A visit to Barton Springs Pool in Austin’s sprawling Zilker Park is a treasured experience for both Austin locals and visitors. The pool, which is more than 3 acres (1.2 hectares) in size is the result of a naturally occurring underground-fed spring. Generations have enjoyed the fresh, cool water, which stays a constant temperature of about 68°F (20°C).
Located in Zilker Metropolitan Park near downtown Austin, the natural limestone pool ranges from dip-your-toes-in to more than 18 feet (5.5 meters) deep. You might encounter fish and turtles, and it’s home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander. There’s a diving board, and a grassy area for sunbathing, and lifeguards on duty. Combine your trip to Barton Springs with an Austin bike tour that ends with a dip in the pool.
Things to Know Before You Go
- During most guarded swim times, there are is a fee with discounts for seniors, youth, residents, and veterans.
- Food, smoking, and alcohol are prohibited.
- Lifeguards are on duty for much of the day.
How to Get There
Barton Springs is within Zilker Park, which you can access from Barton Springs Road. It’s immediately southwest of downtown Austin across the Colorado River. From downtown, take Congress Avenue south across the Congress Avenue Bridge, which turns into 1st Street. Turn right on Barton Springs Road, and look for Zilker Park signs and the pool. Parking is available near the pool (there’s a parking fee on weekends).
When to Get There
From March through September, the pool is open 5am to 10pm daily, with a lifeguard on duty during posted hours each day (you can swim for free at your own risk outside of these hours). The pool is closed Thursday from 9am to 7pm for cleaning and habitat maintenance. Given the cool temperature of the water, summer is the best time for a dip.
Did You Know?
Barton Springs has a fascinating history. Robert Redford is said to have learned to swim at the pool at age 5. Topless sunbathers were common in the 1970s. Barton Springs is home to the Barton Springs salamander, an endangered, federally protected species. And it’s never been more popular: a record-setting 800,000 visitors have enjoyed Barton Springs Pool in recent years.