Standing on the high dive—one of few left these days—I can see the bottom of this 25-foot-deep pool through water almost as clear as the arid desert air that surrounds Balmorhea State Park on the hem of the Davis Mountains. A quintessential oasis.
It’s Texas, and it is too darned hot! While the A/C offered in an office building might suffice for some, nothing beats a big splash in one of Texas' many beautiful swimming holes on a scorching day. We're sure you'll find it hard to resist this refreshing respite from the heat, so we offer a list of some of the top swimming holes across the state.
Under water, light behaves differently; colors sparkle, then fade. Sounds magnify and distort. Liquid cradles a body accustomed to mere air. Down and up become abstractions. Swimming equals flying. Water replaces atmosphere, and the sea floor or lake bottom might resemble a barren moon or the most riotous field of flora imaginable.
I first met the clear, bracing waters of Balmorhea’s swimming pool on a family vacation decades ago. Wading far into the shallow wing of a pool that stretched nearly the length of a football field, I imagined I stood in the middle of an ocean. Apparently other people had a similar reaction, because in the 1970s, scuba divers began frequenting this remarkable oasis in the desert.
Whew-ee, it's a scorcher. Come August, I always feel sorry for those newcomers who moved to Texas from more temperate climes–they're the ones with telltale beads of sweat above their upper lips, limp locks clinging to their foreheads, and damp rings around their armpits.
What do Texas Highways editors dream of on a torrid summer day? A dip in nearby Barton Springs, of course! Fed daily by some 26 million gallons of cool, emerald springwater, Austin's jewel-of-a-pool, at 2201 Barton Springs Rd. in Zilker Park, has taken top honors for "Best Swimming Spot" in our Readers' Choice surveys. Open year round. Hours: Daily 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Thu 9 a.m.-7 p.m. for cleaning. Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for juniors ages 12–17 and $1 for seniors and children ages 11 and younger. Call 512/476-9044.