Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Approximately 1.5 million bats have made the Congress Avenue Bridge their home. The bats settled here after a renovation of the bridge in 1980 created crevices that were perfect for bats to take refuge in against predators. Every spring the Mexican free tailed bats migrate north to the bridge to give birth and raise their offspring. Come summer time, the bats can be seen each evening at dusk as they emerge for their nightly excursions to rid the city of pesky insects before heading back to central Mexico in the fall.

Since the swarms of bats fly over the boats during the tour, and sometimes droppings land on the participants, is there a risk of spreading viruses?

No, there is no significant danger from guano drops. What is dangerous is touching any fallen bats. Under no circumstances should you pick up or touch a bat. The risk for rabies is high.

Someone told me there are no bats this time of year, late January/February. Is this true?

Yes, the bats are in sunny Mexico sipping margaritas during winter! Most of the Congress Avenue bridge bats migrate back to Texas in early to late March, making them “well adapted to the Austin lifestyle” because they enjoy spending winter in Mexico, returning in time for South by Southwest, sleeping late, and embracing “a slacker lifestyle” until late spring and early

We will be visiting Austin this summer. What time should we arrive at the bridge to see the bats?

The Congress Bridge Bats make their nightly departure 30-60 minutes before sunset. During bat season this can range from 7:30PM – 9:00PM because the sun sets at different times through the year.

Is there parking nearby or will we have to walk far?

The Vic Mathias Shores has a free parking lot for the early birds. You will find them at 900 Riverside Drive… or by following this link! Alternatively, South Congress Avenue also offers free parking. The address is 834 S Congress Avenue, and it is relatively close to the bridge where the bats proliferate.

What side of the bridge is best to get a better view?

You want to be on the east side. For perspective, if on the west side, you would have the 1st Ave bridge in view. On the east side, the only view is the river as it stretches off to the east. Bats will mostly fly to the east, which is why the east side is best.

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Beautiful Sunset falls on the Austin Skyline as water enthusiast kayak and canoe on Lake Austin
Cheerful attractive Austin tourist waves with excitement and joy while waiting for the bats to take flight on the Congress Ave. Bat Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas.