Less than an hour’s drive from anywhere in Austin, Krause Springs (pronounced “KRAU-see”) is probably one of the most peaceful day trips you can take from Austin, any time of year. From late May through early October, it’s usually warm enough to enjoy a swim in the spring's refreshing water. But maybe the best time to go is after Labor Day, once the kids are back in school and before the leaves start falling... especially on a weekday, in the late morning, when the normal (sometimes obnoxious) summer crowds are absent, and it's just you and the turtles and squirrels.
One of the best things about this place is that, during drought conditions like the ones we're currently experiencing, when almost every other place is dried up by late summer, Krause Springs still has enough water for swimmers to take deep plunges off the rope swing, wade through the cool waters, and enjoy the waterfalls that are still flowing. On your drive out there, heading west from downtown, you’ll see in the distance to the north just how low Lake Travis is, and your jaw might drop when you see the docks resting on the near-dry bottom of the Pedernales river as you cross its bridge on Highway 71. But rest assured, there will be nice, cool water at the Krause Springs swimming hole.
But Krause Springs is not just about the main swimming hole in the creek. Not as many people take advantage of the man-made pool, which is surrounded by beautiful parkland and vegetation. There’s also the campgrounds, great for both RVs (with full hookups) and tents. And there’s the butterfly garden too, which makes for a wonderful short stroll through mostly-native Texas plants, and fountains, where in the right months you’ll definitely see some beautiful butterflies. Also be sure to appreciate the very special, ancient trees that call this property home – massive thousand-year old cypress trees, and oaks that shaded the original settlers.
Keep in mind that this is a private park, and the Krause family still lives on the premises. So treat the place with respect. When you enter at the front gate, you’re entering their front yard. Also be sure to pick up after yourself, and don’t hassle the local animals – the beautiful resident squirrels can feed themselves. And even though alcohol is allowed (no glass containers), people have been known to exploit this allowance. Park managers told me that some people have made the park their pass-out spot, and with too much drinking comes irresponsible treatment of the land and water, like littering and generally dumb behavior. So don’t be that guy or girl.
Since their opening way back in 1955, the Krause family has never closed the park, and it’s been open year-round. But with the recent drought, more people have flocked here because many other natural creek-fed holes in the area have simply dried up. And with so much traffic, the Krause family has decided to close this winter (2014) to let the land rest a bit, and to make some long-needed repairs and upgrades. So be sure to enjoy the park all the way through the fall. Krause Springs is a beautiful natural playground that’s been diligently managed by a caring family. Have fun, get wet, stroll around, and help keep this place special.