Visitor's Information

Hours: 5 AM - 10 PM daily, closed Thursdays 9 AM - 7 PM

Fees: Admission ranges from $2 (child resident) to $9 (adult nonresident)

Parking: $5 per car

Rules: No pets. Drinks must be in a plastic reusable container with twist-top lid. No smoking. No coolers, ice chests, food, glass, alcohol, or thermal bags. No frisbees, footballs, soccer balls or other hard balls.

Explorer's Checklist

  • Jump in the cold spring-fed water!
  • Snorkle to see fish and aquatic plants.
  • Spot a salamander in the “Splash into the Edwards Aquifer” exhibit in the Sheffield Education Center. The Center is named after Beverly Sheffield, the first Director of the Austin Recreation Department, who after retirement swam 2,820 miles in Barton Springs Pool.
  • Find the Spanish Mission Monument; read the quotes at “Philosopher’s Rock.”
  • Check the spring flow at the USGS gauge.
swimming
Education Center
Sunbathing
diving

Latest Explorer Observation

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Barton Springs Pool, Austin’s iconic swimming hole, is fed by water flowing from an underground aquifer. Water travels through the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer through caves and crevices, to come out at four Springs. Only days before, this water may have been rain, many miles away. Native Americans considered the Barton Springs area to be a sacred healing ground. The springs were later named after William “Uncle Billy” Barton, who began living on the land in 1837.

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Photo Courtesy of Barton Springs Conservancy & Jennifer Ramos
Photo Courtesy of Barton Springs Conservancy & Jennifer Ramos

SPRINGS FOR ALL

In 1960, some Austin teenagers and young adults took a bold step by jumping into the waters of Barton Springs. Working with other students, Joan Means, an Austin High senior began “swim-ins” after being told that she and her fellow black classmates would not be allowed to attend their senior class picnic at Barton Springs.

“Those swim-ins at Barton Springs and other pools began the civil rights movement in Austin.”

~ Joan Means Khabele

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Barton Springs Salamanders

Did you know you’re swimming with salamanders? Chances are rare that you’ll spot one though. The Barton Springs salamander measures only 3 inches long and hides in sand and gravel at the bottom of the pool where chilly water flows up from the Edwards Aquifer. The Barton Springs salamander can be found nowhere else in the world. In 1997, it was placed on the Endangered Species list, making these waters federally protected.

It’s important not to disturb salamander habitat. They rely on sediment to hide from predators and aquatic plants for prey. The endangered Austin Blind Salamander makes its home here too and has adapted to life deeper within the aquifer. Sensitive to pollution, both salamanders remind us of the fragile nature of the aquifer.

City of Austin Watershed 
Protection Department
City of Austin Watershed Protection Department
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Volunteer Info

Save Barton Creek Association

City of Austin Wildland Conservation Division

Austin Parks Foundation

Keep Austin Beautiful

TreeFolks

City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

Educational Resources

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Explorer Gallery

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