Barton Springs Municipal Pool and Deep Eddy Pool Reopen in Austin, TX
The beginning of spring and summer in Austin, Texas has always brought out the swimmers and sun worshippers to the pools fed by natural cold springs. Barton Springs and Deep Eddy Pool are fed by springs which maintain a temperature of 68 degrees. When Austin, Texas temperatures reach into the 100 degrees farenheit and above range, nothing feels better than these natural spring-fed waters.
For over a year, the pools were closed. One day in spring of 2020, a friend and I took lunch and sat outside the fence of Barton Springs, looking into the cold water we couldn't access because of COVID. A full year later, a different friend and I attempted to go to Barton Springs on Memorial Day weekend.
After circling the parking lots for over 30 minutes, we gave up and went to Deep Eddy Pool instead. It's a smaller, man-made concrete pool filled with spring fed water, and as such is somewhat less popular than Barton Springs, which is has a natural bottom of algae covered stones and sand. Barton Springs also has a larger "deep end" as the entire center of it is deep. A diving board hovers above the center, and there's always a line of daredevils waiting to dive into frigid waters. By contrast, Deep Eddy Pool has only one end that is deeper, and there is no diving.
What there is at Deep Eddty is a wading area which gradually slopes to the waist high water in the middle, then to the swimming lap lanes, and finally to the deepest end, which is the color of algae. It's easier here to slowly accustom yourself to the cold water a little at a time. Although there are many proponents at both pools who advocate just shocking your system and getting it over with by jumping in all at once.
Barton Springs water is the color of algae throughout. The algae covered rocks are slippery, and require practice and balance to stay afoot. On my first trip with my son there, when he was three years old, he slipped on algae in the shallowest end, and declared he was done and would never go back. A few short years later he was lining up and diving into the deep center over and over, until I insisted it was time to leave. By the time I moved to Austin when he was a sophomore at Southwestern University in Georgetown, 30 miles from Austitn, Texas, we both became regular visitors.
Unitl he became adept at diving as a young child, we went to Deep Eddy Pool instead. With it's gentle slope and firmer footing, it's a perfect pool for younger children.
This Memorial Day weekend, it had just enough visitors to make it worth being reopened, without the massive numbers of people at Barton Springs. It was a perfect, early summer day with temperatures in the 80s, and enough sun to make the 68 degree water refreshing and envigorating.
To be fair to Barton Springs, the parking situation there is complicated by its adjacency to Zilker Park, and the Austin Botanical Gardens. As with the roadways and highways in Austin, parking infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the demand of people moving here.
Still, if you choose to go to Barton Springs, try to do so on a week day. Preferably, go in the morning rather than the popular late afternoon time, although afternoon after some time in the sun is the best time to attempt the coldness of the water for a first time visit. You might even consider taking an Uber or Lyft, or Austin's Rideshare.
Deep Eddy Pool, with it's small parking lot, will eventually be more difficult to park near. As the summer heats up, and more people learn about my favorite hide-away, I may have to Uber there as well. Until then, you'll find me on hot Mondays that aren't holidays braving the icy waters of Deep Eddy Pool.