A Nightly Spectacular!
One of the most amazing sights in Austin takes place every evening from March to early November, when 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their roosts under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Here's all you need to know to experience this incredible - and free - natural spectacle:
Due to the generous support of the Austin American-Statesman, Bat Conservation International (BCI) has been given an ideal platform from which to inform visitors about the beneficial role bats play in local ecosystem. As our chief Congress Bridge partner, the Austin American-Statesman has augmented its role of providing daily news with helping BCI educate people about bats.
The Congress Avenue Bridge is in Downtown Austin, just 10 blocks south of the State Capitol building. The bridge spans Town Lake at the cross streets of Cesar Chavez to the north and Barton Springs Road on the south. The Austin American-Statesman's Bat Observation Center is on the southeast side.
The Austin American-Statesman has begun charging a minimum of $5 for parking; more for special events.
Bat Flight Time
The bats arrive at the bridge in mid-March and return to Mexico in early November. While in residence, they astonish visitors with their spectacular emergence display at dusk.
The time of year, weather conditions, and colony size all affect bat emergence times. Late July through mid-August is the best time to see impressive flights, as new born pups first begin to forage with their mothers.
The bats generally emerge before dark, but may fly late if conditions are not favorable.
For updates and approximate emergence times, go here.
For best viewing, bring your blankets and picnic baskets and watch from the Austin American-Statesman's Bat Observation Center.
There are also tours by Capital Cruises Boat Tours or Lone Star Riverboat. They are located just west of the bridge below the Hyatt-Regency Hotel. On the Northeast side of the bridge: T.G.I.Friday's restaurant in the Radisson Hotel & Suites have lake side decks for bat viewing. Or, watch from atop the bridge, but be careful of traffic, please.
Bat-watchers please remember to "LOOK, AND NOT TOUCH!" Bats are wild animals and should be treated as such. Like all wild animals, they may bite in self-defense if handled.
PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE BATS.