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Splash into Summer

Texas Swimming Holes Offering a Summer Escape

Temperatures are rising and summer is knocking on our door.  We dove into some popular, and lesser-known, swimming holes in Texas to give you options for cooling off from the summer sizzle.

There are two West Texas refreshing options when looking to cool off this summer. Balmorhea State Park offers the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool that is ideal for swimming and scuba for only seven dollars per person over 13. The clear water stays between 72-76 degrees and reaches a depth of 25 feet. The pool is open all year from 8:00 am until sunset and if you arrive early enough you may just get the place to yourself. Once the parking lot is full, visitors who do not already have a reservation are not allowed, so plan your trip accordingly. With an abundance of fish and other water creatures, along with its depth and clear visibility, Balmorhea attracts scuba enthusiasts, too. If you are certified, find another diver (a partner is required) and bring your proof of certification. With this state park in a remote part of Texas, you cannot just happen upon it so it offers a more laid-back option to the well-visited swimming holes of the Hill Country.

The “Quince” is a section of the Nueces River about an hour west from Concan. The " Quince " is nicknamed for its 15-foot natural pool near Wood Camp, Texas, perfect for cliff jumping, floating, and sunbathing. This quiet spot is another alternate destination for those looking to cool off without the Hill Country crowds. 

Tyler, Texas may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of great swimming holes, Tyler State Park deserves a moment of your time if you’re looking for an East Texas retreat.  A few miles off I-20, this state park boasts a 64-acre lake with a family-friendly swimming area. It may lack in Hill Country clear waters, but what you get in return is more space and recreation options. A short drive through the dense forest and just seven dollars per person over 13 years old brings you to the designated swim area on the lake’s east shore. When you need a break from the water, there are 13 miles of natural trails as well as cabins and campsites to hang your suit for the night. 

The Blue Lagoon in Huntsville, Texas made our list of refreshing options as a splash close to home. In just under an hour you can find a spring-fed retreat from the heat in a former limestone quarry whose crystal blue waters look as though they were shipped in from the Caribbean. The Blue Hole is a scuba training facility and only divers can make reservations, but it does offer swimming for non-divers. The Blue Hole is open seven days a week and is $30 per person and $10 per child under nine years old. For casual swimmers looking to cool off, stick to weekdays for your best chance at a plunge here. You must call on the morning you plan to head out and prepare for options in case they are at capacity when you arrive. 

The number of Hill Country natural swim escapes is in the double digits and all of them give respite from the summer heat that easily hits triple digits. They are all well-known by those looking to beat the heat, so we have updates and highlights of two of the best. Barton Springs makes the top of every annual list of Texas swimming holes. The 3-acre spring-fed pool remains around a chilly 68 degrees all year long. Located in Zilker Park, this landmark does not require reservations but pack your patience because it gets crowded. The price to take a plunge ranges from $2 to $9 based on age and whether or not you are a resident.  

Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs, Texas requires a steep, quarter-mile walk to reach the limestone collapsed limestone grotto with a 50-foot waterfall - a sight worth the trek for one of the prettiest settings for a summer swim. Reservations are required for minimal fees and children under 12 are free. 

Swim availability in natural bodies of water fluctuate due to weather conditions and bacteria levels.  Be flexible when planning a trip to one of these refreshing spots and be sure to call ahead or check websites and social media when planning. It is always a good idea to research what other activities are available in the area should your swim trunks need to stay in the suitcase once you arrive.