Summer in Texas is synonymous with searing heat, clothes drenched in sweat, and the occasional sunburn. From the deserts of El Paso to the pine forests of East Texas, this season can be a doozy if you find yourself more than a few feet away from an air conditioning vent. Fear not my fellow traveler; there are many places you can go to escape the heat. There are a multitude of natural swimming holes in Texas - including spring-fed rivers and lakes - that combine refreshingly cool water with an abundance of scenic beauty.
If you’re looking for a breathtaking place to cool off and appreciate nature, then you owe it to yourself to see these 10 unbelievable Texas swimming holes this summer.
The Texas Hill Country is known for its spring-fed pools and relaxing ambiance, and few places fully embody this quite like Krause Springs. Located just 30 miles west of Austin near the quaint town of Spicewood, this popular camping and swimming site is the place to go if you want to relax in clear and cool water. Thirty-two springs feed the waterway that flows into Lake Travis, creating a natural and a man-made pool in the process. Visit the natural pool and you can hop into the calm water, relax under the shade of a cypress tree, or enjoy the crescendo of the waterfall. Don't leave without exploring Kraus Spring's 115 acres of terrain, which includes a butterfly garden where you can kick back and listen to the wind chimes.
The inviting blue-green waters of Balmorhea State Park's pool create an oasis from the surrounding West Texas desert. Yet this is no normal pool. Jump off of the diving board and you'll be immersed in the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through this 1.75-acre pool every day, so the water is always fresh. So what is there to do here? Beyond dipping in your toes or doing your best impression of a floating log, the water is clear enough (and at a maximum depth of 25 feet, deep enough) for you to go snorkeling and scuba diving. Although that's cool, the best part is that the water stays between 72 and 76 degrees year-round. If one day by the pool isn't enough for you, spend the night in one the 34 campsites or reserve a room at the on-site motel-style lodge.
Region: Big Bend Country
Tucked away among 126 acres of gorgeous forests and grassy fields is one of Texas' favorite swimming holes: the Blue Hole in Wimberley. Dive into the pristine creek and swim in the shade provided by towering cypress trees. The cool waters will leave you feeling refreshed, which is a good thing because there are plenty of other things to do in the park. Hike the 3.5 miles of nature trails, enjoy a picnic, or play a game of sand volleyball. If all of that's not enough for you, try your hand at bird and wildlife watching. The park offers a rare ecosystem for an array of flora and fauna, so keep your eyes open and you just might see something special.
A distinct smell of sulfur tickles your nose as you arrive at the Hancock Springs Free Flow Pool, an ordinary looking but rather exceptional pool in Lampasas. What makes it special? The pool’s green sodium chlorine-laced water has long been revered for its restorative properties, which is why Lampasas was known as a health destination back in the 19th century. Today, you can enjoy a revitalizing dip in what is the oldest spring-fed pool in Texas. The pool is supplied by a spring that bubbles out of limestone rocks at an impressive rate of 70 gallons per second, keeping the water fresh and at a constant year-round temperature of 72 degrees. The Hancock Springs Free Flow Pool is open Thursday through Sunday throughout the summer.
Rolling hills covered in pink granite outcrops stand on the eastern bank of the picturesque Colorado River as it flows through the heart of the Texas Hill Country. This is the stunning backdrop found at Inks Lake State Park, home to one of the coolest swimming areas around – the Devil’s Watering Hole. Despite the ominous name, this is swimming hole is one of the many must-visit spots in the region. Evade the summer sizzle by splashing around in the chilly river or lounge on an inner tube and enjoy the view. Yet the most popular attraction has to be the pink granite outcrop that towers over Devil’s Watering Hole. If you’re feeling courageous, you can climb to the top and yell “Geronimo!” as you dive into the water. Just make sure to avoid doing a belly flop.
Looking for a bit more adventure? Hike a ways upstream to uncover scenic waterfalls that flow when Valley Spring Creek is running, rent a kayak and paddle down the river, explore the nature trails, or go birdwatching. Inks Lake State Park is open seven days a week.
The crystal-clear blue water of the San Marcos River that flows through the captivating town of San Marcos provides one of the best swimming spots in Texas. This river, flanked by verdant trees and rocky shores, remains at a constant 72 degrees year-round thanks to the hundreds of springs in the heart of San Marcos that serve as its point of origin. You can immerse yourself in the revitalizing river at Rio Vista Park, one of San Marcos’ most popular summertime attractions. Here you can swim and snorkel in the pristine water or go kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. When you’re not playing in the river, sunbathe on the bank or get your folks together for a barbecue. After all, there’s nothing better than chowing down on grilled meat with great company after a relaxing day at one of the prettiest rivers in Texas.
Massive limestone cliffs and rolling hills blanketed in oak thickets provide a one-of-a-kind backdrop for the Frio River, one of the best swimming holes in Texas. Hop into the untouched blue-green water and swim or float past bald cypress trees as you revel in the stunning natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Rent a kayak or a paddleboard to tour the river, find a quiet spot to fish, or wander the 11 miles of scenic trails. If you want to stay longer (and why wouldn’t you?), reserve one of park’s screened shelters, cabins, or campsites that offer access to water and electricity. You can reserve any of these by visiting the park’s website.
Region: Hill Country
With its limestone waterfall and secluded setting, Hamilton Pool is one of the most popular (and well known) Texas swimming holes. Nestled among sloping hills about 20 miles west of Austin, Hamilton is a particularly unusual site because of how it was formed. Erosion from an underground river caused a rocky dome to collapse thousands of years ago, forming the subterranean pool that we all know and love. Today, you can leap in to the chilly crystalline water in the pool, or you can “shower” under the waterfall that cascades over a rocky limestone cliff. As one of the most unique places in Texas, Hamilton Pool can get quite busy. Reservations are required before even entering the park, so make sure to book your spot before you grab your sunscreen and beach towel. Reservations can be made at Travis County’s website.
City: Dripping Springs
Region: Hill Country
Into East Texas we go for this next natural swimming hole, an enchanting 64-acre spring-fed lake nestled among 100-foot-tall pine trees in Tyler State Park. This Piney Woods wonder, located about 10 miles north of Tyler, is one of the best places in East Texas to beat the heat. Drive through a dense forest until you reach the designated swimming area on the lake’s eastern shore. Hop in to the chilly water or kick back and unwind as you gaze out over the lake. Along with the swimming and lounging, the lake is a great place for kayaking or fishing since there is an abundance of largemouth bass and catfish to snag. There’s also 13 miles of nature trails that meander through pine and hardwood forests, as well as cabins and camp sites where you can hang your hat for a night.
For some thrills with your spills, it’s hard to beat Lake Tejas. Located in the deep East Texas community of Colmesneil, this swimming hole has something the others in this list don’t: a massive 100-foot-long waterslide. Yet that’s just one of the attractions at this scenic spring-fed lake, as there’s a sandy beach where you can wade into the water, inner tubes and paddleboats to rent, and plenty of space to soak up the sun. If you have your own canoe, kayak, or small non-motorized boat, you can bring it and wander to your own private corner of the lake. A regular and a water volleyball area, diving boards, and a separate roped children’s area with two slides provide a little bit of something for swimmers of all ages.
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About the Author: James Waterson is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing, kayaking, and hiking, he’s planning his next epic adventure in the Lone Star State.
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