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The Big Splash: Texas Swimming Holes

Find Relief From the Heat in Refreshing Texas Waters

The 50-Foot waterfall at Hamilton Pool spills over the enormous limestone grotto that forms the great swimming hole. (Photo by Michael A. Murphy)

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.

Blue Hole

Generations of Texans have cooled their feet in the beautiful Hill Country oasis, Blue Hole, but they are in for a new treat. After a much-needed cleanup and restoration, the City of Wimberly unveiled the improved Blue Hole Regional Park.

With access to soccer fields, restrooms, hiking trails and a sand volleyball court nearby, the swimming hole is sure to remain a Texas hot spot for cooling off. Admission is $8 for ages 13 and up and $4 for seniors and children. (512)660-9111.

The cool water of Barton Springs pool invites people of all ages to swim and relax in Austin’s summer sun. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

Barton Springs

Fed daily by 26 million gallons of cool, emerald spring water, Austin's jewel-of-a-pool, has taken top honors for "Best Swimming Spot" in our Readers' Choice surveys. Open year round, this man made swimming hole remains a cool 70 degrees no matter the season. The spring is open from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, but is closed from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Thursdays for cleaning.

The swimming hole, at 2201 Barton Springs Rd. in Zilker Park is pretty famous we have to admit, it even made a cameo in the 2011 Brad Pitt movie, Tree of Life. Entrance to Barton Springs is $3 for adults, $2 for juniors ages 12–17 and $1 for seniors and children ages 11 and younger. But heads up, admission is free for early birds (before 8 a.m.) from March-Oct. (512)476-9044.

Devil’s Waterhole

I’m not sure why it’s called Devil’s Waterhole because this place is truly a little slice of heaven! On the north shore of Inks Lake, Devil's Waterhole is a go-to for warm-weather swimmers and surprisingly Texas wildlife, as well. Open year round and daily from 8 a.m.-10 p.m., you can cliff jump from the pink, rent a boat, hike, swim in the lake to your heart’s content and even SCUBA dive. From Burnet, take Texas 29 west 9 miles to Park Rd. 4, and take a left. Continue for 3 miles to the park entrance. Admission is $4 for ages 12 and over. (512)793-2223.

Hamilton Pool

The quintessential swimming hole, with a 50-foot waterfall spilling over a fern-cloaked grotto (yes, it is that beautiful), Hamilton Pool Preserve lies in southwest Travis County where Hamilton Creek and the Pedernales River converge. In between dips in the pool, you can enjoy the multiple hiking trails, and the many rare species of flora and fauna in between dips.

To get to this swimming hole for a cool down, take Texas 71 west about 13 miles to RR 3238 (Hamilton Pool Rd.), and take a left. Continue 13 miles to the park entrance. The park is open daily from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., trail conditions and water quality permitting. Admission is $8 per vehicle.

Be sure to call ahead before you head out to Hamilton Pool, incase of any closures. (512)264-2740.

Krause SpringsKrause Springs A secluded waterfall flows gracefully into the crisp, cool waters of Krause Springs.  (Photo by Michael A. Murphy)

If you have any interest in rope swinging into crisp cool waters, this swimming hole is the place. Krause Springs, the 5-acre park near Spicewood, has two aquifer-fed pools–one natural and one man made–shaded by 1,000-year-old cypress trees. Arguably one of the most beautiful swimming holes in Texas, Krause Springs also offers RV sites, hiking and onsite showers and restrooms.

From Austin, take Texas 71 west about 35 miles to Spur 191 (Spicewood turnoff), and take a right. Continue past the low-water crossing, and take a left onto a gravel road (this is the park entrance; look for sign). The springs are open year round from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The admission is $3, $2.50 ages 4-11, free for ages 3 and younger. (830)693-4181.

Lake Tejas

For some folks in northeast Texas, it's Lake Tejas or bust to beat the heat. The lake, tucked among East Texas' pines and hardwoods, and it’s no surprise given the slides, paddleboats, fishing and fun offered here.

The spring-fed swimming hole and 27-acre campground lie just one mile east of Colmesneil, on the north side of FM 256. Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, this place is grade-A for beating the heat, swimming and sliding in the cool water. Hours are from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from10 a.m.-6p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $2, $1 age 11 and younger. (409)837-2063.

Balmorhea State Park A SCUBA diver explores a silent and beautiful underwater world at Balmorhea State Park. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

Balmorhea State Park

When you think SCUBA diving, the West Texas Chihuahuan Desert isn't likely to be the first thing that comes to mind. That will change once you discover Balmorhea State Park. Hundreds of SCUBA divers and snorkelers splash around in oasis-like waters of the park in Toyahvale. While it may not be the Caribbean, you'll still find yourself weaving through schools of shimmering fish and hovering above turtles. Not a diver? Don't have snorkeling gear? Don't fret. Feel free to simply swim around.

From Fort Stockton, take Interstate 10 west 50 miles to Texas 17. Take Texas 17 south about 8 miles to the town of Balmorhea. The park, which also features a 3-acre desert wetland and boardwalk, lies 4 miles southwest of town at the intersection of Texas 17 and FM 3078. This swimming hole haven is open year round from 8 a.m. until dusk. Admission is $3, $2 ages 65-69, free to those ages 12 and younger and 70 and older. (915)375-2370.

Fort Clark Springs

Now part of a privately owned resort and leisure-living community, Fort Clark Springs (covered by Jan Edwards in May 1999) in Brackettville preserves the historic fort, which served soldiers and civilian travelers from 1852 to 1946. Las Moras Creek feeds the fort's concrete pool with a constant flow of 68-degree springwater.

You'll find this simultaneously historic and rejuvenating place on Fort Clark Rd., just off US 90. Along with the pool and 80-plus historic fort structures, the grounds include a restaurant, motel, a military museum, nature trails, RV and tent campsites, and more. But heads up, you must be a motel guest or camper to enjoy the Fort Clark swimming facilities. (830)563-2493.

Where are your favorite swimming holes?


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