For the first time in nearly two years, the historic spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park will reopen to the public at the end of the month.
The park’s reopening on June 26 comes after years of maintenance problems, which forced intermittent closures — including one lasting nearly two weeks and another lasting over 660 days. The most recent closure marked the third time since 2018 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department closed off the pool for repair work.
Park superintendent Carolyn Rose says there were several factors contributing to the delayed re-opening, including the park’s remote nature and the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID did not help because the supply line was disrupted during the COVID period,” Rose said in an interview with Marfa Public Radio. “And even just staff getting staff during that time was difficult as well.”
Some of the renovations at Balmorhea State Park include repairing the entire 42-acre park’s septic system, installing a limestone barrier on the park’s perimeter and rebuilding the pool’s pergola, the shaded covering behind the high dive.
While the park is set to reopen, park contractors are still finishing projects, including work on the San Solomon Courts and the park’s overnight lodging for visitors.
“Light construction is still ongoing in the pool area, so the public is asked to remain vigilant,” reads a press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
When the park re-opens at the end of the month, Rose expects to see a steady stream of visitors, as seen at other outdoor parks during the pandemic. “State parks and national parks have really been slammed,” said Rose. “We expect Balmorhea to be loved as much as it was in the past.”
In the last 10 years, visitation to the far West Texas swimming hole has greatly increased and the park has started capping the number of daily visitors. When it reopens this summer, the visitation limit will likely be lower than in recent years, according to Rose, “because we have less area in the pool.”
“There’s going to be some areas that are fenced off with the construction fencing,” said Rose. “So people will be kind of squished up a little bit more towards the actual pool.”
The spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park first closed in May 2018 after park staff found “structural damage” to the pool’s wall during an annual cleaning.
The repair work lasted roughly 9 months and totaled over $1 million.