I don’t really have to tell you that Texas is HOT. On scorching summer days, there’s just about nothing that beats the heat better than taking a dip in a good ol’ swimming hole. When I was growing up, my Grandparents lived in Austin and my cousins and I would go spend a week or two exploring the Hill Country with them each summer. They would take us to all the beautiful, fun, and sometimes a bit “weird” places around Austin, but of all the incredible spots they took us to, it was always the swimming holes that were my favorite. Those summer adventures made me fall in love with Texas. About five summers ago, my husband and I started taking our girls on annual road trips through the Hill Country (and beyond) to let them experience the magic of all those swimming holes I got to enjoy growing up. We’ve been able to experience a few for the first time together as well. Here is a list of our favorites, in no particular order, so that you can start planning your own swimming hole summer adventures.
The Devil’s Waterhole- Burnet, TX
Inks Lake State Park is one of our favorite SPs and that’s in large part because of The Devil’s Waterhole. Inks Lake is part of the Highland Lakes of central Texas, and because it typically stays at a constant depth level, it’s a great swimming hole for thrill seekers looking for some cliff jumping action. Inks is a great park for a weekend of camping, or just a day trip. We’ve done both. Bonus… When you visit, if time allows or if the weather ends up being unsuitable for swimming, you can quickly shift gears and go up the road a few miles to Longhorn Caverns State Park for a tour of the caverns. Both parks were built by the CCC as part of the New Deal, and you can make reservations for either online.
Hamilton Pool Preserve- Dripping Spring, TX
Hamilton Pool Preserve, in Dripping Springs just outside of Austin, is a great place for swimming, hiking, or just simply enjoying nature. But we’re here for the swimming, aren’t we? Hamilton Pool was formed by thousands of years of water erosion when a limestone cavern ceiling collapsed opening up a grotto crowned by a glorious 50 ft waterfall. According to Travis County Parks, the pool water level stays constant, even during droughts. The waterfall is also constantly flowing, however during dry times it can slow to a trickle. The preserve is open year round, but swimming is only allowed in the summer months. And a popular spot for swimming it has become. So much so, that reservations are required between May – September. I recommend planning ahead and booking your visit early as dates often book to capacity months in advance. We filmed ourselves the last time we visited Hamilton Pool and you can see that here.
Krause Springs- Spicewood, TX
Krause Springs in Spicewood is a privately owned piece of paradise. With 32 springs on the property, spilling into both manmade and natural pools, there are plenty of places here to take a dip. Or a swing on the rope swing as my thrill seeking girls loved to do. They also have camp grounds if you’re wanting more than just a day visit. Call 401-236-7554 to check availability for when you plan to visit. Reservations can be made by phone in advance for RV camp sites, but tent camping (primitive) is first come first serve.
McKinney Falls State Park- Austin, TX
McKinney Falls State Park is the perfect swimming hole for someone not wanting to get too far out of the city as it’s only a few miles away from Downtown Austin. This state park has a few swimming holes that have formed by Onion Creek flowing over a series of limestone outcroppings that make for some decent cliff jumping. I like to just sit back in a float and watch the kids jump. Bring a picnic and enjoy the day swimming, or stay longer with some camping. The park also has limited use cabins for more of a “glamping” experience. Day use and camping reservations can be made online. We made a video of our visit to McKinney Falls last June that you can see here.
Pedernales Falls State Park- Johnson City, TX
Pedernales Falls State Park is another one of our favorite parks. It’s beautiful and rugged and has some of the best river swimming hole swimming around. Try out one of the rope swings or just find a spot in the smooth river rocks and enjoy the flowing water. Check the river conditions before going to this park and watch for rising water while you’re there because the risk of flash flood is always something to be mindful of in this part of the state. Of course, you can camp and hike in the park as well so even if river conditions don’t allow for swimming when you visit, you could still have tons of fun. Day use and camping reservations can be made online.
Dinosaur Valley State Park- Glen Rose, TX
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a total step back in time. Who wouldn’t want to splash in some dinosaur footprints? The Paluxy River flows through this park giving visitors several places to splash and swim. Whether you want to just get your feet wet and see the dino tracks, or take a dive in a deep pool, this park has what you’re looking for. And of course, as with most state parks, you can hike and camp here as well. Day use and camping reservations can be made online.
The Blue Hole Regional Park- Wimberly, TX
The Blue Hole is a wonderfully small, but packed full of fun, swimming hole operated by the City of Wimberley. There are two rope swings under towering trees for the dare devils, and plenty of space for everyone else to just float and watch the rope swinging. We filmed our visit to the Blue Hole last summer which you can see here. Due to its size and popularity, reservations are required during the summer months and can be made online.
Jacob’s Well- Wimberly, TX
Jacob’s Well is just a few miles away from The Blue Hole in Wimberley, making the two swimming holes perfect for hitting up both in one day. That’s what we did and it was the most perfect hot Hill Country day. Jacob’s Well is the beginning of an extensive underwater cave system. The opening of the well is 12 feet across and the depth is about 23 feet. Crystal clear, icy cold spring water flows from the bottom making it an extra refreshing and sometimes shocking plunge. But it’s so worth it! We filmed our visit at Jacob’s Well last summer which you can see here. A lot of people are surprised with how small this swimming hole is, but I’m here to tell you it’s worth a visit! Reservations are required in the summer months and can be made online.
Blanco State Park- Blanco, TX
Blanco State Park is another CCC park with some good swimming. In my opinion this is the perfect swimming hole when the parents just want to sit back and relax in the water while the little ones play. At least that’s what we did when we visited last summer, which you can see here in this video. Also, note to self…let the kids control the GoPro more because their videos are so funny! You can also enjoy some fun paddle sports at this park and of course they have camping sites if you want to stay overnight. Day use and camping reservations can be made online.
And those are our favorites! I hope these recommendations help guide you to some future swimming hole adventures. Follow along with us on Instagram and Facebook for more Texas travel recommendations. If there are any swimming holes you love that I didn’t mention, please send me an email or comment below or on Instagram with your recommendation and let’s explore Texas together!