Balmorhea State Park makes changes after popularity soars
Think of it as a giant swimming hole fed by natural spring water. That's probably the best way to describe the star attraction at Balmorhea State Park - an oasis in the West Texas desert.
This 3-million gallon pool was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s. The pool became a 46-acre state park in 1968.
“It was originally a desert cienega, which is a desert marsh,” said Carolyn Rose, the head ranger at Balmorhea State Park. “And there are at least three really good springs bubbling up in the pool and they bring in about 15 million gallons of water per day.”
The water in this natural bottom pool is always about 72 degrees, regardless of the outside temperature.
Balmorhea State Park has always been a popular park but in recent years the park has seen a record number of visitors. All those visitors are causing some problems when it comes to the ecosystem.
“Really the park has been impacted by so many people for so many years that we have a lot of problems in the park now," said Rose.
Rose said the park's wetlands are home to endangered forms of aquatic life and the increase in visitors is having an impact.
“We’ve got some issues with people doing what they shouldn’t be doing,” she said. “There’s just so many there. They’re doing things like feeding the fishes, catching the fishes, so we’re trying to get the word out about how human food is really unhealthy for these fishes. Please don’t feed them.
Due to the increase in visitors, the park for the first time had to implement a daily limit.
“And so now we’re only allowing 1,300 day use visitors day use into the park,” she said.
And this month, the cabins that were built in the 1930s started to undergo a major restoration.
“They’re going to try to take it back as much as possible to the 1930s appearance," Rose said. "And then the campground also will be shut down at that time. We do believe the hotel will take 18 months to finish. The campground, they’re going to try to get that open as soon as possible.”
But the park is still open and visitors are still welcome.
“The pool itself will always be open during that period so we’re open everyday. People will still be able to come in to the pool every day to swim.”