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Dive Into Barton Springs After Sunset for Serene Moonlit Swims

Uncover the hidden treasures of Austin's magical, refreshing haven

Barton Springs at Dusk
Diving into Barton Springs at dusk (photo by Grace Dupuy)

Every full moon, you can howl like a wild animal and fit in perfectly. Otherwise, Barton Springs is a relaxed space after sunset. The enchantment of the twinkling summer fireflies and molting Egyptian geese throwing tiny feathers across shady patches of grass feel like little treasures welcoming visitors to the Springs from the moment they step on the hillside. 

Two friends jumping into the pool at night
Jumping right into the springs after sunset. (Photo by Grace Dupuy)

Night swimmers are not restricted to just human moonbathers at Barton Springs. “They don’t have any natural predators here, that’s why we think they keep coming back,” said a lifeguard regarding the gaggle of geese. Visitors lit up when we asked if they’d seen the goose babies. They mentioned the blue herons and talked about turtles taking rides on the water. While the hilly lawn has grown patchy and dirt-bare in the summer heat, people keep coming back to swim at dusk, when the grounds grow serene. 

Baby Geese at Barton Springs

Baby geese at Barton Springs (photo by Grace Dupuy)

Locals sitting on the lawn at Barton Springs

Locals sitting on the lawn at Barton Springs (Photo by Grace Dupoy)

Jumping into Barton Springs at dusk

Jumping into Barton Springs at dusk (photo by Grace Dupuy)

“I’m here every single night,” said Kyle Ellison. He was gathered with his friends near the white goose feathers and the diving board, but closer to the water, where the springs discharge.That’s where the water is colder, he explained. He donned goggles and fins to dive in and see the fish, turtles, and crawdads near the vent. A spring-goer since the 80s, he said the water helps you relax and unwind, “no matter what frame of mind you’re in.” He also asserts that the water calms the nervous system and helps you sleep better too. Ellison’s friends agreed that the spring water is healing.

“You get a cellular craving for (the Springs,)” noted David Ansel, a 25-year loyal springs-dipper.

Sometimes, the daytime bathers stay late, like Javier Ramirez, from Laredo, who said he’s been popping by the springs since he moved to Austin three decades ago. He heads home by about 8:30 p.m. if he’s on his own, but comes back with his kids for night swims in the summer. “It calms down a lot then,” he claimed. A three to four times weekly visitor, Ramirez had just emerged from the pool and sat between his two daughters when we spoke to him. The girls used to have a hard time with the cold water temperature, he told us, but relish it now. 

Two locals high fiving at Barton Springs Pool
High fives for cooling down in the tranquil cold water. (Photo by Grace Dupuy)

Some of the nighttime swimmers frequent the pool at all hours. Alex Reichek hurt her back five years ago and started swimming laps at Barton Springs after that. 

“I swim a mile two to three times a week,” she said. “I have built such a good community with the elderly in the morning …  I have my morning swim people I see, and then I have my night swim.” 

For her, those connections are priceless. A year-round swimmer, she said the pool is a great social alternative to going to a bar, and after a long day of work, is a safe place to get exercise and decompress. 

Floating in the water at night at Barton Springs
Swimmers at Barton Springs enjoying a cool float after sunset. (Photo by Grace Dupuy)

Looking up from the lawn at Barton Springs, dragonflies spiraled overhead, and a jewel in Austin’s crown shone brightly in the radiance of the overhead lights, glowing skyline beyond, and more distant stars. 

A magical place indeed, Barton Springs welcomes moonbathers nightly until 10 p.m. View details about hours and admission fees here.

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