It’s a flock of birds. Or maybe they’re planes. Nope! That long ribbon waving through the evening or night sky over the McNeil & IH35 overpass are Round Rock’s Birds of the Night: bats.

McNeil & IH35 Bats Overpass
601 North Interstate 35 Frontage Road
Round Rock, Texas 78664

Everyone knows or has heard of the famed Congress Avenue Bridge bats in downtown Austin. But as quiet as kept, Round Rock has its own thriving bat roost that has doubled over the last decade or so. The Mexican free-tailed bat colony in Round Rock has grown from 500,000 to just over one million bats and counting as each year passes. The Round Rock bats population pales in comparison to the Austin bat colony’s two million and growing population, for now.

Many bat watchers and enthusiasts flock to Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge daily to experience the bats’ aerial show. What they may not notice but eventually discover in time is that the bats in Round Rock offer a better experience for the following reasons:

    1. Better overall aerial show fewer skyscrapers
    2. Somewhat safer and family-friendly bat watching locations
    3. An abundance of free parking
    4. Easier trip for suburban families to visit
    5. A dozen or more locations throughout Round Rock

Austin bats fly south down Lady Bird Lake, also known as the Colorado River, to the farm lands southeast of downtown to feast on beetles, moths, and other crop insects. The bats in Round Rock also fly a somewhat similar pattern towards the farm lands of Hutto, Taylor, Pflugerville, and Manor. Both Austin and Round Bats have been known to fly as far as 60 miles during their 6-8 hour flight feeding window.

No one knows exactly when either set of bats returns to their respective bridges, but it’s safe to guess that it’s just before sun up.

As previously mentioned, Round Rock provides an assortment of locations in all directions to watch and experience the bats. Out of the many locations to experience bats in Round Rock, the top four locations worth visiting are:

    • 698 S IH 35 Frontage Rd
    • Napa Auto Parts and City Centre
    • Urban Rooftop
    • NTB & Rock 35 Apartments

There are many locations likely not listed, but the locations summarized below provide the best bat watching experiences in Round Rock.

698 S IH 35 Frontage Rd

This location is at the northwest corner of the McNeil & IH35 overpass in Round Rock, Texas. It’s an unmarked business that appears to have possibly been a residence at some point.

Having parked at this location and watched the bats with the sun just behind, this location provides a great vantage point of seeing the entire bridge and horizon of the sky. The bats fill the sky as for as the eye can see moments after dropping from the bridge into flight.

It’s a good location with decent parking and great bat viewing to consider, but be sure that the business is closed when parking to watch the bats. It’s not recommended to park as far into the location as the cars or red truck is shown in the image.

Bat Watching in Round Rock at 698 S IH 35 Frontage Rd

Napa Auto Parts and City Centre

Both locations are adjacent to one another at the northeast corner of the McNeil & IH35 overpass in Round Rock, Texas. The City Centre building is a newly developed stone building just behind Napa (see image).

Napa has long been the place most bat enthusiasts and watchers flocked to safely experience Round Rock’s bats. Both locations after adequate parking and Napa offers a large grassy area for picnic blankets and lawn chairs.

It’s somewhat safe for kids, but still at the corner of a busy intersection, especially during rush hour.

Just south of both locations on the opposite of the train tracks is Bellview Avenue. A few people park along the north side of Bellview Street and watch the bats. It’s not my favorite location due to the immediate closeness to the train tracks. Never know when a train may appear loudly blaring its horn (YIKES!).

Bat Watching in Round Rock at Napa Auto Parts and City Centre

The Best Rooftop Fine Dining Bat Watching Experience

The best fine dining and bat watching experience, hands down, goes to Urban Rooftop. It’s only a few years old and is located at 411 West Main Street in downtown Round Rock, Texas.

This place is the perfect spot for a date night or a batty happy hour event with friends or coworkers. This location offers a great dining experience, good and safe parking, and breathtaking panoramic views of the near one million bats taking flight. The picture says it all, including the ribbons of bats in its background!

Round Rock's Urban Rooftop: The Best Rooftop Fine Dining Bat Watching Experience.

NTB & Rock 35 Apartments

An ideal location for families with small kids is the fields of mowed grass just off the IH35 frontage road in between National Tire & Battery (NTB) and the Rock 35 Apartments. Parking is available at either location although most bat watchers tend to favor NTB’s parking lot since it closes by 6 pm daily.

In fact, NTB has a larger parking lot at the south end of the building next to a gas station. This is likely an ideal location to watch the bats if grass fields are wet or not mowed. Or maybe you simply don’t care to stand or sit in the grass to experience Round Rock’s glide across the evening sky in a southeast flight pattern. Again, it’s the best family-friendly of all locations.

Bat Watching in Round Rock at NTB & Rock 35 Apartments

Nearby Shopping and Business Centers

There are quite a few shopping and business centers that are just moments south of the McNeil & IH35 overpass in Round Rock, Texas. Locations offering multiple options, and an abundance in free and available parking are as followings:

United Heritage Credit Union — This location is on the east side of IH35 in Mays Crossing Shopping Center near Academy and Pluckers.

Chisholm Center — This location is on the west side of IH35 at the corner of IH15 and Chisholm Valley Drive close to the Wag-A-Bag and Shell gas station.

Whataburger — This location is on the east side immediately south of Mays Crossing Shopping Center in Renaissance Square. Like Mays Crossing Shopping Center, Renaissance Square offers a plethora of eateries and free parking for days.

Additional bat watching locations in Round Rock

The aforementioned locations are most ideal and favorites selected by frequent bat watchers and enthusiasts.

However, additional bat watching locations in Round Rock do exist. Unfortunately, most locations lack ideal parking suitable for families with small kids, or limited or unofficial parking.

Try these locations, but be forewarned that they are not truly official locations to experience and enjoy the bats in Round Rock.

Holy Cross Coptic Orthodox Church
700 S IH35 Frontale Road
Round Rock, Texas 78681

AB&T Diesel Repair & Performance
710 S IH35 Frontale Road
Round Rock, Texas 78681

Sleep Inn & Suites
1980 S IH35 Frontale Road
Round Rock, Texas 78681

Round Rock Surgery Center & Advanced Pain Care Building
2000 S Mays Street
Round Rock, Texas 78681