|Take TX 71 west
about seven miles past the Pedernales River. Turn right on Spur 191
at the Exxon station (it really sneaks up on you) and go about one
mile. The road curves sharply to the left and you'll see a sign and
driveway on your right just after you complete the curve. Turn right
at the red arrow and sign for Krause Springs, then stay left at the
fork in the road. It's 34 miles west of Austin.
Krause Springs is one of my favorite places on the entire planet.
It is so wonderful, I was tempted to exclude it from this book and
keep it all to myself. But that would not have been fair, so...
Springs swimming hole
Photo courtesy Chandra Moira Beal
| As you approach
Krause Springs, you travel down a dirt road through a meadow full
of pecan trees, wildflowers, and peaceful cows. A volleyball net and
grassy areas wait for someone to use them. Then you see foreboding
signs about signing liability releases and surveillance cameras. Don't
be put off by these warnings.
Elton and Jane Krause own and operate Krause Springs, which is on
the National Historical Register as an undisturbed midden, or Indian
burial ground. Elton Krause used to live in Austin
until he retired from the Austin American Statesman. The Krauses bought
the land, which had been in the family for two generations, from an
aunt in the 1950s. The aunt kept a hog farm there on 115 acres. The
first thing Elton did was to remove the hog pens. Then he built the
swimming pool, doing 90% of it himself. One thing led to another,
and the grounds today are filled with his handiwork. He has made all
the tables and gazebos by hand and says you can pick out his first
table and see the progression of his abilities. Eventually the Krauses
opened their land to the public and built up the campgrounds. A Texas
Monthly article in the 1980s listed it as one of the best swimming
holes in Texas. Elton and his sons continually improve and build on
the grounds. The landscaping is all done by them, as well as the rock
picnic benches. They went with concrete because people would move
the wooden tables together in clumps and he'd have to rearrange them
each time. Elton officially retired in 1994 but says he's busier now
than when he was working for the newspaper.
Photo courtesy Chandra Moira Beal
|The 70 x 20-foot
swimming pool is just below the well, which is the source of the springs.
It pumps at a rate of 70 gallons per minute. It is beautifully made
with stonework, a diving board, and a concrete patio. Depths range
from deep enough for diving to shallow enough to wade in. The water
is blue-green, very clean and natural, and it reflects the sky and
trees beautifully. The spring trickles out from the well on the shallow
end, goes through the pool into canals, flows over a cliff and cascades
25 feet into a waterfall into the lower pool, a natural swimming hole.
The waterfall has changed since a portion of the overhang broke off
in 1985. The fallen rock is still in the middle of the water. The
lower pool is deepest, about eight feet, beneath the falls. There
are numerous boulders in the water, so no diving is allowed. Flat
limestone rocks have water rushing over them which pools into a great
swimming hole with a rope swing, caves, and beautiful, mossy cliffs.
To get down to the swimming hole, there is a new set of wide limestone
flagstones, a great improvement over the old, rickety, steep stairs.
Krause Springs is so quiet and still, you can hear the birds, crickets
and cicadas chirping. When I visited on a Friday, there were only
five other people there. It is easy to get spoiled by having it all
to yourself, and it is so intimate that it feels full when just a
handful of people are around. The giant wind chimes, built in Austin,
are some of the largest in the country. They sound like cathedral
bells and resonate all over the grounds. Lush, green, tropical plants
like taro and elephant ears are growing all over the park. Magnificent
trees such as cottonwoods, pecans, cypress, and oaks preside over
the park. Some of the cypress trees are estimated to be over 1,000
years old, and the live oaks are 100-200 years old. Dozens of butterflies
fly through in the spring and fall migrations. I think Krause Springs
has done an admirable job of incorporating man-made elements into
the natural world. The result is a beautiful park that is obviously
well-loved and cared for.
Krause Springs also has camping for those who want to spend a few
days. There are three tiers of campsites with the bottom level backing
up against Lake Travis. Boaters can travel up to the boat ramp at
the end of Spur 191 and ride to the campground. There are many picnic
areas, rest rooms, and grills. Proper swimwear is required. Loud music
is prohibited. Elton's policy regarding trash? The sign says it all:
My hired hand just quit!
Post Office Box 114
Spicewood, Texas 78669
Across Texas, 1999
Copyright Chandra Moira Beal and La Luna Publishing
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