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It’s a given that one of our favorite swimming holes in Austin is Barton Springs Municipal Pool. Barton Springs is a giant outdoor swimming pool that is filled with water from the nearby spring.
UPDATE: Starting May 21 reservations will be required to enter the pool. It’s the best way to manage capacity as the weather heats up. Reservation fees are as follows: $2 for residents and $9 for non-residents. You can book your two-hour time slot here. However a reservation will NOT be needed for the unguarded swim from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily.
Current Hours of Operation:
The pool is open until 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
5 a.m. to 8 a.m. – Swim at your own risk
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Guarded swim
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Swim at your own risk
Location and Hours:
Barton Springs is located in Zilker Park at 2131 William Barton Drive. In a normal year, the pool is open November to mid-March. Everyday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. From 5 to 7 a.m., it’s swim-at-your-own risk, and guarded swim from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. . But the hours of operation have varied depending on the season. It’s always a good idea to check the site for current hours.
Normally, there’s a fee to swim at Barton Springs, ranging from $2 to $6. However, due to COVID-19 the fee’s have varied.
Before Barton Springs was ever a pool, the area of land was sacred and used for rituals by the Tonkawa Native American tribe who lived in that area of what is now Austin. In the 1700’s, Spaniards found the source of water. Once the city of Austin was founded, William “Uncle Billy” Barton, settled in the area. In 1837, he named the springs after his three daughters: Pathenia, Eliza, and Zenobia. As you can probably see why, the name didn’t stick and thus changed to Barton Springs. Andrew Jackson Zilker, a political figure in Austin, was the last private owner of Barton Springs. He deeded the springs over to city in 1918 as the city built the damn and surrounding sidewalks that you see today.
Barton Springs is a three-acre property that lies within Zilker Park. The pool itself is just a little more than two football fields in length! There’s plenty of grassy space on either side of the pool to read, sun bathe, and warm up after a dip in the cool springs.
Because Barton Springs’ water feeds from a natural spring, the water is pretty chilly. All year round, the average temperature is 68 to 70 degrees – ideal for a swim in Austin’s hot summer.
During the summer months, parking in any of Zilker Park’s parking lots to get to the pool can be crazy. There are parking lots off Andrew Zilker Road and William Barton Drive. Parking during the week is free, but make sure to feed the pay parking machine during the weekends and holidays. We highly recommend not parking on the grass – you will be towed.
Barton Springs is very kid-friendly! There’s a shallow end at the south end of the pool and a diving board. Floaties are allowed, but only in a certain area of the pool. No Frisbees, footballs, soccer balls, or any other hard balls. Heads up though – bathing suit tops are optional for women. Because who wants tan lines?
Coolers, ice chests, thermal bags, food, pets, glass, and alcohol, as well as no smoking. Non-alcoholic beverages can be brought in as long as they’re in a plastic bottle with a resealable lid.
We recommend wearing water shoes if you have them! The water is very clean, though some rocks can be a bit slippery with algae. If you’re a swimmer, swimming laps in Barton Springs in the morning is a great workout. During the summer, the spring starts to get quite busy in the afternoon. If you’re able to ride your bike instead of driving, do it.
Check out all of the swimming holes in the area here.