Family-owned Krause Springs a lush oasis in the Highland Lakes

Krause brothers maintain Spicewood oasis

Brothers Hugh and David Krause, along with brother Terry (not pictured), have built onto the gardens and campgrounds at Krause Springs every year, slowly expanding the lush grounds with new flower beds, picnic tables, and more. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

Krause Springs in Spicewood teems with a natural, mossy beauty fed by spring waters and shaded by towering, 1,000-year-old cypress trees, none of which is all that common in the Texas Hill Country. On its 115 acres, 32 springs feed a man-made pool and a natural swimming hole before flowing into Lake Travis.

Now a popular place to cool off and camp, the property was a hog farm when Elton Krause (pronounced Krouse-E) first purchased it in 1955. He demolished the farm and began building a pool and picnic tables in 1963. Elton died in 2011 at the age of 88, passing on ownership to sons Hugh, David, and Terry Krause, who now run the family business.

“My dad was a quiet man,” David said. “In 1963, my brother and I, my mother, and my other aunt, we went to Chicago to visit family. We came back, and he had this hole in the ground.”

That “hole” was ripe with natural resources, including more than three dozen springs and hundreds of looming oaks and tall cypress trees. Elton installed a 70-foot-by-20-foot pool that catches water on one end of a convergence of springs and releases it on the other end as a waterfall spilling into a natural swimming hole. The water stays a chilly 68 degrees year-round and runs at a constant rate of 70 gallons per minute, eventually making its way into Lake Travis.

A butterfly garden now greets visitors with the sound of wind chimes and the ever-present burbling of water from a nearby grotto. A fountain in the grotto was hand-built by Elton. As with most every project on the property, the Krauses hauled rock from the spring below to mold landscaping into a natural fit. The garden bursts with taro, elephant ears, and wildflowers. Tucked away, a hammock entices visitors to take a rest. 

“You’d be surprised how many people find that hammock and don’t come out until a couple of hours later and say, ‘Man, I dozed off,’” David said.

Krause Springs’ reputation as a hidden oasis has spread mostly by word of mouth, reaching as far as Life Magazine in 1981, when the national publication listed it among “America’s best swimming holes.” The family only recently launched a website at krausesprings.net — its first attempt at any kind of advertising. 

Recently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the natural attraction reopened May 21. Swimmers and day dreamers have quickly returned.

“These rocks are usually covered with people,” David Krause said. “There have only been a couple of times we’ve had to say ‘no’ and turn people away.”

Under COVID-19 restrictions, Krause Springs is limiting groups to six. When crowds reach capacity, security guards will allow one in for each person who leaves. Hand sanitizer is provided throughout the grounds; sinks are available for hand washing. 

Listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites, Krause Springs is located at 424 County Road 404 in Spicewood. Hours are 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. daily. For updates on capacity, call 830-693-4181. RV camping requires reservations, tent camping is first-come, first-served. 

alex@thepicayune.com

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