Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Barton Springs Pool (2022 Update)


Barton Springs is one of the more popular recreational areas in Austin, Texas. Spanish explorers first found the springs in the 17th century around 1730 and long before the pool was built, the springs were a sacred place for purification rituals by the Native American tribe that inhabited the area.

Now, It is an area open to swimming and other manual water sports. There are four natural water springs located in Barton Creek which surrounds Zilker Park. The main spring, also known as Parthenia Spring, feeds into Austin’s most cherished pool and is a local and visitor favorite.

barton springs pool

(photo: ejmc)

The three other springs, which are significantly smaller, but just as important, are Eliza, Old Mill, and Upper Barton Spring.

Did you know?! The main owner of the springs, Barton, named the three smaller of the springs after his three daughters: Parthenia, Eliza, and Zenobia.

After its popular use, Barton and the other wonder realized how valuable it was going to be as a tourist attraction and began to promote and market it. Now, we see it as one of the most desirable places to visit in Austin.

(Related: Is Austin Safe To Visit? Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling)

Is Barton Springs open during the Covid Pandemic?

During the COVID pandemic, Barton Springs, along with other popular recreational areas in Austin was closed for some time to ensure safety protocols. Fortunately, it has reopened with some specific guidelines to continue following the social distancing requirements and keep the spring goers safe.

The springs are open on everyday:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5:00 am – 8:00am

Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays: 8:00 am – 10pm

There are no groups allowed. All guests are screened upon arriving and each must make reservations beforehand. Those who are not actively swimming are required to wear a face mask.

Is it open year-round?

Barton Springs is open year-round, but be mindful of the cooler temperatures come fall and winter. The water comes from the natural Edwards Aquifer, so the temperatures can range from 68-74 degrees and sometimes even colder throughout the year.

The Edwards Aquifer is known as one of the “most prolific” artesian aquifers in the world. It serves as a great resource to nearly two million people in south-central Texas.

Do you need reservations?

Starting on May 21, 2021, all visitors must have a reservation to visit the pool. This reservation system was enacted to manage the capacity of the pool.

Season Pass Holders, citizens that are 80 years and older, Veterans and  Retired and Active Duty Military can enter Barton Springs Pool without reservations. Early birders (5am – 8am) don’t need reservations either.

You can make a reservation here.

Is It Free To Enter Barton Springs?

Barton Springs normally requires a fee. However, during the pandemic, there have been some slight adjustments to this fee due to the circumstances of the pool and the requirement to make a reservation and not have as much freedom throughout the facilities.

The typical day use fees for Barton Spring Pool:

  • Children under 1 year- FREE
  • Children (1-11 year)- $2
  • Junior ( 12-17 years) $3
  • Adult(18-62 years)- $5
  • Senior ( 62 years and older) -$2
  • Veterans ( Honorably Discharged) – FREE

(Related: Hamilton Pool | Balmorhea State Park)

What time does Barton Springs open/close?

As mentioned above, in the times of COVID, the rules and regulations of the facilities change to keep up with the most current health guidelines and protocols.

Usually, the pool is open to the public from 5 am-10 pm, Friday through Wednesday.

Is Barton Springs open on Labor Day and other holidays?

Barton Springs is open most days including Labor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. While Barton Springs is open on holidays, there are no lifeguards on duty on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The pool is closed to the public from 9am – 7pm every Thursday for cleaning and is closed two weeks of the year for its annual spring cleaning, which takes place from Feb. 28 to March 13. Those dates can change so you should contact the facility before you arrive.

Is Barton Springs open during Austin City Limits?

Barton Springs pool is open during the Austin City Limits music festival in October. The festival takes places in Zilker Park, so the pool is just a brief walk away.

Many locals have suggested that the perfect way to take a break from the festival is to take a dip in the pool.

The reservation system takes away the spontaneity of when you can visit, but anywhere between 12pm – 4pm are great times to visit the pool and still make it in time for the headliners.

What is the temperature of barton springs pool?

Barton Springs pool is fed by an underground spring and it maintains a steady temperature of 68-70 degrees all year long.

Suffice to say, swimming in Barton springs in December is going to feel significantly different than in June or August.

There is a 30 degree difference between your body temperature and the pool and that first dip in the pool will always be a shock, but your body will quickly adjust.

A lifeguard who worked at Barton Springs said that there are a contingent of 40 people who swim in the pool everyday, no matter the weather.

How big is Barton Springs Pool?

Barton Springs is 3 acres in size and is more than 200 meters from one end to the other. To give you some perspective, an Olympic-sized pool is 50 meters in length. Barton springs is perfect for lap swimming and getting a good workout in.

How Deep Is Barton Springs Pool?

The Main Barton Spring is usually kept at a maximum depth of 18 feet. The other three springs vary in depth

barton springs pool

Can you bring alcohol to Barton Springs?

There is no alcohol allowed in the city-operated Barton Springs area. However, some visitors have said that they have been able to subtly bring a beverage or two undercovers. It is recommended to follow the rules and walk down the block to the bars and breweries to grab your favorite drink.

Can you bring your dog?

There is a strict no-dog policy at Barton Springs, but there is a place just around the corner called “Barking Springs” where dogs are welcomed.

Other areas that welcome dogs near Barton Springs:

  • Red Bud Isle Park- A dog’s dream play area, where you can also canoe or kayak.
  • Bull Creek- Named after the steam that passes through, this 48-acre park in northwest Austin is the perfect spot to swim, hike, and fish with your dog.
  • Zilker Park- The park is known for dogs and sits next to Lady Bird Lake for a quick dip.
  • Yard Bar- Dogs, Beer, and food. That’s all you need to know.

The parks that are around water that allow dogs to play are safe to swim. As always, keep an eye out for your pup and other dogs when playing around the water.

Can you bring inner tubes and floaties?

Inner tubes and floaties are allowed at Barton Spring Pool. Sitting on an inner tube while floating down the pool is a relaxing way to enjoy a summer day at the pool.

Things you can’t bring to Barton Springs

Here’s a list of things you CANNOT bring to Barton Springs. They have a very strict policy and you will be asked to put the item away or take it to your car and the lifeguards will look to make sure you do so.

  • Dogs
  • Alcohol
  • Coolers
  • Food
  • Cigarettes/Vapes
  • Glass
  • Drinks are permitted but must be in a plastic re-sealable container with a twist-top lid
  • Footballs, soccer balls, other hard balls and frisbees

Is Barton Springs Pool clean? Can you drink Barton Springs water?

Barton Springs water is well known for its cleanliness and is particularly clean thanks to land protections and other policies protecting the area. However we do not recommend that you drink the water in the pool.

Would you drink water from a pool that has hundreds, if not thousands of visitors daily?

The water gets tested twice weekly for bacteria like E Coli to ensure safety, but we still do not recommended that you drink from it.

Bring your own water to the spring if you get thirsty.

Are there fish in Barton Springs Pool?

Barton Springs pool is a naturally spring fed pool with a natural bottom, so there are fish and plants in the pool. However, fishing in Barton Springs pool is strictly prohibited.

You are more likely to encounter fish at Barton Creek Greenbelt, which is right next to the pool. Here’s a chart showing you the many diverse species of fish that you can find there.

Fishing is also allowed at the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Are there alligators in Barton Springs?

There have never been alligators in Barton Springs. This has been an ongoing rumor.

You can find salamanders, which live in the water their entire lives. The springs are the only home to this salamander and they can thrive in unpolluted waters. The Barton Springs salamander is an endangered species and has the potential to become extinct if the waters become more polluted.

The city works to protect the area of the aquifer to not only protect this species but keep the water clean for all visitors to enjoy.

Does Barton Springs have topless people?

It is legal to be topless in public in the city of Austin. The statute basically says that anywhere a man can be topless, a woman can be too.

While it is not common that you see a topless woman sunbathing at Barton Springs Pool, it does happen on occassion and most frequently at the deeper end of the pool.

An Austin native and frequent visitor to Barton Springs says he has only seen a topless woman 1 out of every 10 visits.

If you are concerned about nudity, the shallow end of the pool is more family oriented and there will be less of a chance to see a topless person there.

Are there bathrooms at Barton Springs Pool?

Yes, there is a men’s and women’s bathroom at Barton Spring, as well as a shower facility and changing areas.

When is the best time to visit Barton Springs?

The best time to visit Barton Springs depends on your preferences of crowd and temperature. During the summer months, the area is almost always crowded, but the 3-acre area allows for many people to swim and lounge comfortably.

The most popular time to visit is around lunchtime when the air temperatures reach their peak. Take note, these times are also the most crowded.

Where do you park at Barton Springs?

Barton Springs location:
2201 Barton Springs Rd,
Austin, TX 78746

There is community parking around the Main Spring to access the Barton Springs Pool. There is also public parking surrounding the entire Zilker Park area, allowing a large number of visitors throughout the day. These are some of the busier recreational areas in Austin, so it’s not always easy to park.

The springs are busiest over the weekend and warmer temperatures, so are sure to leave early to get a spot that is most convenient to you. It is recommended to bike, uber, or Lyft to Barton Springs if you want to avoid the hassle of parking.

Sources

https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Watershed/fieldguides/Barton-Springs-Tour.pdf

Barton Springs Pool

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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