Springs enrich the senses and nurture the body and soul. From subterranean reservoirs they seep, trickle, and flow through sand and stone, inspiring wonder as their waters glide across the earth with reassuring grace.
Centuries ago, the land within present Texas boundaries held about 10,000 springs. Today, because heavy pumping and the flow of artesian wells have lowered the underground water table, geologists estimate that only a third of the natural fountains still deliver.
Springs that remain, however, gush and gurgle with style, bubbling up water that is often purer than that found in surface reservoirs. To explore some Texas springs on your own, consider the following options, just a smattering of the many springs dotting Texas.
Las Moras Springs is in Brackettville, on US 90 between Uvalde and Del Rio. Guests at Fort Clark's 1872 stone barracks, which have been transformed into a 38-room motel, may swim in the spring-fed pool. Wheelchair accessible. Call for rates, or write to Fort Clark Springs, Inc., Box 345, Brackettville 78832; 830/563-2493.
New Braunfels is on Interstate 35, about 30 minutes north of San Antonio. To reach Comal Springs in Landa Park, take the Lake McQueeney exit, go west to downtown, around the circle, then continue on Landa St. The park also offers an 18-hole golf course, miniature golf, volleyball, nature trails, paddleboats, and a miniature-train ride. Some areas in the park are wheelchair accessible. Write to the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Dept., 110 Golf Course Rd., New Braunfels 78130; 830/608-2160.
San Marcos is on I-35, about 30 minutes south of Austin. To reach Aquarena Springs, take exit 206, and drive west to the big sign at the entrance. Much of the resort is wheelchair accessible, but boarding the glass-bottom boats for rides on Spring Lake would present difficulty. Hours: Daily 9:30-5:30. Admission: Free to grounds; glass-bottom boat rides cost $3-$5. Write to Aquarena Springs, 601 One University Dr., San Marcos 78666; 800/999-9767.
Barton Springs Pool is in Zilker Park in Austin. To reach the park, take the Riverside St. exit from I-35, go west, turn left on Barton Springs Rd., and proceed to Zilker Park. Turn left into the park, and watch for signs. Call for hours, admission prices, and status of the pool. Write to Barton Springs Pool, Austin Parks and Recreation, 2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78704; 512/867-3080.
Boykin Springs Recreation Area is 13 miles southeast of Zavalla, off Texas 63 in the Angelina National Forest. Ad-mission: Day visitors (till 10 p.m.) $2 per car; campers, $6 per night. Write to the Angelina Ranger District, 701 North First St., Rm. 100, Lufkin 75901; 409/639-8620.
Roaring Springs is at the juncture of Texas 70 and FM 684, about 70 miles northeast of Lubbock. For information on the Roaring Springs Ranch Club, a private, nonprofit club open to members and Coast-to-Coast RV Club members, write to Roaring Springs Ranch Club, Rt. 1, Box 31-A, Roaring Springs 79256; 806/348-7292.
Balmorhea State Park is on Texas 17, about 7 miles south of Interstate 10. Hours: Daily, swimmers 8 a.m. to 1/2 hour before sunset; divers, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission: $3, free age 12 and younger. No lifeguard on duty. The poolside is wheelchair accessible. Tent camping, RV hook-ups, and an 18-room motel are on-site. Write to Balmorhea State Park, Box 15, Toyahvale 79786; 915/375-2370.
Look in your library or bookstore for Springs of Texas Vol. I by Gunnar Brune (Branch-Smith, 1981) and Barton Springs Eternal, ed. by Turk Pipkin and Marshall Frech (Softshoe Publishing, 1993).