Summer is upon us, and with it come the soaring Texas temperatures. To escape the heat in the next few months, many Austin locals will venture off to everyone’s favorite summer spot—Barton Springs.
Barton Springs, a set of four natural water springs located on the grounds of Zilker Park, is the result of the cool waters flowing through the Edwards Aquifer. The spring’s chilly waters and natural ambiance has made it a year-round swimming destination for Austin locals.
Infamous for its nippy waters, Barton Springs attracts crowds of people looking for an escape from the sweltering summer heat.
Dr. Shirley, professor of Religious Studies, says he has always enjoyed Barton Springs, “[The spring] has a lot more character than the pool at the gym, plus you get some sun.”
Shirley says, however, Barton Springs is not your conventional swimming hole. “It really isn’t so much for swimming laps as for the ambiance. There used to be a rock—that I think was called the ‘Philosopher’s Rock’—where some of the local educational elite used to sit and chat. There’s also a statue just outside of the pool area, near the parking lot, commemorating some of the more famous local intelligentsia.”
Kate Rosati, administrative coordinator of the Center of Ethics and Leadership, likes to visit the springs with friends on warm summer days. “My girlfriends and I will lie out on our towels on the hill, heat up until we can’t take it anymore and then jump in.”
However, Rosati says the only thing better than taking a dive into the cool waters is getting back out, “The best part is getting out of the freezing cold water and realizing that the sweltering heat suddenly just feels warm and cozy.”
Dr. Jodi Egerton, assistant professor of English Writing and Rhetoric, shares Rosati’s enthusiasm for taking to Barton Springs for a quick dip on a hot day. “On a perfect dreamy day, we like to sit on the far side on the big grassy hill. Bring along some books, a towel to lie on, lots of sunscreen and a hat. Lie around reading until you’re just so hot you can’t stand it, and then go cool off in the water for a while.”
Egerton’s says her husband, former Humanities adjunct instructor Owen Egerton, loves Barton Springs. “[Owen] loves to go early in the morning and swim at the break of dawn. He goes every year on his birthday to swim if we’re in town. He’s originally from Wales, and he learned to swim in icy Welsh lakes, so he has absolutely no issues with the cold [water].”
Barton Springs Pool, a man-made swimming pool, is located on the grounds of Zilker Park. The pool sits within the Barton Creek channel and is filled by water from Main Barton Spring. The pool’s temperature, which remains between about 68°F and 72°F, allows for year-round swimming.
Shirley admits that he enjoys being around the pool more than he enjoys being in the pool. “I have fun wandering the area outside the actual pool area: the play area, with all the kids’ equipment, and on the other side of the springs.” He says he also enjoys exploring all of the interesting concrete and stone structures surround the pool.
No matter your reasons for going—be it to escape the heat, read a book, or explore new things—hitting up Barton Springs will be the coolest thing you do all summer.
Barton Springs Pool Fees
Weekdays Weekends Summer Pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day) Senior $1 $1 $60.00 Adult $3.00 $3.00 $180.00 Junior (12-17) $2.00 $2.00 $120.00 Child (11- under) $1.00 $1.00 $60.00 Family of 4 n/a n/a $350.00 (additional family members are required to purchase the individual pass for their age group Parking fee at Zilker n/a $3.00 (March through September)