Especially during the hotter months, a dip in one of the warm springs near Austin, TX, is a cooling experience. These are not “hot springs” as they never really exceed 70℉, and some would argue, are rather “cool” springs, however, either way, they are worthy and temperate enough for people to swim in.
Technically, they fall within the realm of “warm” springs, lying at the lower end of the definition range, which is 68°F to 122°F.
Nonetheless, these springs are all set in beautiful natural areas that offer a few other things to do besides swimming, too. For those on the hunt for a memorable place to stay, consider pitching a tent or pulling a trailer behind you. You can always rent an RV locally through sites like Outdoorsy, RVShare, or Cruise America. There are plenty of top campgrounds near Austin to accommodate travelers.
If you’re looking for higher temp waters, consider heading west to the hot springs near West Texas, closer to El Paso. These will surely relax away all the tension in your body.
Without further ado, here are the “warm” ones closest to downtown Austin, in order of proximity:
Barton Springs – Austin, TX (2 miles)
Barton Springs is one of the city’s oldest and most popular places for swimming in a natural area. Located just minutes from downtown Austin, these springs are set in Zilker Park and filled by the Main Barton Spring, one of Texas’ largest. The swimming area is around 900 feet long and reaches depths as far as 18 feet. No matter how cold or hot it is outside, Barton Springs pool is open year-round, and the water maintains temperatures of 68-70℉.
Reservations are not required to visit or swim in these springs, but it’s only open on certain days of the week, so it’s wise to check their website before going. Passes are required during specific hours and days too, but those can be easily purchased online. Especially during the summer, Barton Springs sees a high volume of visitors, so plan your time to go accordingly. The pool hours are 5 am to 10 pm on the days it’s open, which shares the same hours as Zilker Park.
These springs have been a tourist attraction for swimming since the mid-19th century, but the Tonkawa Tribe once inhabited it even before that. The Native American tribe used the area as a spiritual, sacred grounds from as early as the 17th century. The last private owner of the land, Andrew Zilker, gave it to the city of Austin in 1918, after which the construction for a more significant swimming area and pathways were built.
Barton Springs is located just south of downtown Austin, which means there are numerous hotels, Airbnbs, and VRBOs to stay in nearby. There is no official campground associated with the 350-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park, but there are places to RV and tent camp within a few miles.
Zilker Park also has a large cabin to rent for overnight stays, ideal for large groups, business retreats, or girl scout troops. There are summer camp programs available to young kids and residents of Austin on the property as well.
Krause Springs – Spicewood, TX (34 miles)
Located in Spicewood, Krause Springs is one of the states’ most well-known natural swimming areas. It’s only about 30 miles from Austin and set on 115 acres, offering visitors plenty of room to spread out for some fun in the great outdoors. The property is privately owned by the Krause Family but is also on the National Registry of Historic Sites.
The area has 32 springs, many of which flow into an uncultivated swimming area and a manufactured, natural-setting pool. The water also travels into Lake Travis, keeping a temperature of about 68℉ all year long. Large granite rocks surround the natural pool, providing great spots to sunbathe or take a break from swimming. At the man-made pool, there’s a beach-style entry point and plenty of tree canopy shade for setting up a spot to hang out for the day.
Pets aren’t allowed at Krause Springs, so leave the furry family members at home when planning a trip there. There is a fee to use the area, and it’s recommended to bring cash since their credit card machines have been known not to work all the time. Carrying your own floats and food is allowed, as long as nothing is in a glass container. Water shoes are highly recommended since the pools have natural terrain beneath the water.
There are a couple of amenities to use on-site for people spending the day, like BBQ facilities and public showers. Make sure everyone in your party knows how to swim too, as there is no lifeguard on duty. Krause Springs is open most of the year but closed from December 1 through the end of February for maintenance.
Other Activities Near the Springs
Aside from getting in the water, people can indulge in other fun activities right on-site.
- Butterfly Gardens – Visitors are encouraged to walk through the Butterfly Gardens, a relaxing haven with whimsical wind chimes and sounds of running water. Bring your camera to snap pictures of the gorgeous landscape and friendly bugs.
- Hiking/Walking – There is a lot to explore around Krause Springs, and taking a walk through the campgrounds is a fun way to see the lay of the land.
- Picnicking – Bring your meals from home and eat in the great outdoors. Tables and large rocks are lovely places to eat out in nature. As previously mentioned, no glass containers are allowed.
Krause Springs has campgrounds very close to the swimming pools. There are 24 RV camps spaces but also places for tent camping too. In the town of Spicewood, there are a couple of hotels and vacation rentals. By Travis Lake and along Little Cyprus Creek are a few cabins and short-term rental places, offering many modern amenities and the joy of being out in nature.
Jacob’s Well Natural Area – Wimberly, TX (35 miles)
Jacob’s Well is about 35 miles southwest of Austin in Wimberly and takes less than an hour to get there. Spanning over 81 acres, the well itself is an underground cave system and the state’s second-largest fully submerged one. The deepest part of the well goes as far as 140 feet down and totals over 5,000 feet in length. All year long, the water remains around 68℉, but the area is only open to swimmers about half the year, from May 1st to September 30th.
A fee is required to enter the water area, but kids four and under are free. The well is a day-use-only location and closes promptly at 6 pm, but no one can enter after 5:30 pm. The regular opening hour is 8 am, 7 days a week. No lifeguard is on duty so swim at your own risk.
To keep Jacob’s Well Natural Area safe and fun for everyone, no pets, weapons, bikes, scuba gear, glass, alcohol, or fireworks are permitted. No camping is allowed on the site either, and those who wish to stay nearby have a choice of several hotels less than five miles away.
These springs in Central Texas are great pit stops and vacation destination spots for reconnecting with the great outdoors. Especially when it’s hot and humid, taking a swim in natural pools is a refreshing experience.