We’re lucky people here in Austin. We have splash pads, we have free pools, and we also have a wide variety of swimming holes. For those days that you are looking for something just a little different than your typical pool experience, you might want to give one of our favorite swimming holes in Central Texas a try.
Swimming Holes in Central Texas
Do keep in mind that depths can be deceiving, so remain vigilant around your less-confident swimmers. Lifejackets for littles are highly recommended. Also, know that some of these destinations require a bit of a walk, and the trails may not be stroller-friendly. Lastly, you and your children may prefer to wear water shoes, rather than risk slipping upon entry or walking through mud or small rocks that often line the bottom of natural swimming areas.
Those caveats aside, swimming holes allow you to cool off in beautiful settings! Enjoy!
Website. 2201 Barton Springs Rd. Open Sunday -Wednesday 5am-10pm, Thursday 5am-9am and 7pm-10pm and Friday-Saturday 5am-10pm. Swim at your own risk (no fees charged) from 5-8am and 9-10pm daily (except during Full Moon Swim). Austin residents: adults $3, 12-17 years old $2, seniors (62 and older) and 1-11 years old $1, under one year FREE. Non-residents: adults $8, 12-17 years old $4, seniors (62 and older) and 1-11 years old $4, under one year FREE. Meter parking is $5 on weekends, holidays and special events, from March until early September. Call the Barton Springs Pool hotline at 512-867-3080 for current information, as the pool frequently closes for an extended period of time following a big rain.
Barton Springs is considered one of the crown jewels of Austin, and for good reason. Located very close to downtown, the three-acre natural swimming pool is a great place to cool off, with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees, year round. You can ease in by using the stairs, but many people opt to jump in off the side or from the diving board. Even after your body acclimates, you’ll have to get moving, or you risk getting too cold. Kids can enter via the west side of the pool, which features a beach entry, but can be slippery. There’s nothing quite like it on one of those meltingly hot summer days. This summer favorite (and the parking lot) fill up in the mid-afternoon, so try going early if you want to beat the crowds. Leave your coolers, ice chests, food, glass, alcohol, frisbees, footballs and other hard balls at home. Keep in mind that Barton Springs is often closed for a period of time after a big rain. Don’t forget that you can learn more about the Springs’ endangered residents at the Splash! Exhibit at the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center, located next to the restrooms. If you are at Zilker Park and feel like just getting your feet wet, you can take the stairs next to the playground down to the Barton Springs spillway, where many residents bring dogs to cool off and which is always free.
Blue Hole in Georgetown
Website. Enter at W. Second Street and Rock Street, Georgetown. Open from dawn until dusk. FREE.
Blue Hole is a scenic lagoon bordered by limestone bluffs along the South Fork of the San Gabriel River. It’s located five blocks north of the downtown square along North Austin Avenue. The park features picnic areas, restrooms, and places to sit in the shade. The water level is dependent on the level of rain in the area. Go earlier in the day to avoid crowds.
Blue Hole in Wimberley
Website. 100 Blue Hole Ln., Wimberley. Blue Hole Regional Park is open year-round, from 8am to dusk. The swimming area is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, daily from 10am-6pm., weather permitting. Call 512-660-9111 to confirm that the park is open for swimming, following a big rain. Adults $9; seniors (60+), children ages 4-12 and service members/veterans $5, children 3 and under FREE.
Blue Hole Regional Park consists of 126 acres, which includes trails, picnic areas, a community pavilion, playscape, basketball court, sand volleyball court, amphitheater and the Blue Hole Swimming Area. Upon entering the swimming area, you walk down a limestone path to a small, grassy field with stone picnic tables located at the perimeter. You can enter Blue Hole via two rope swings or down a ladder. The water is relatively shallow, and the swimming hole is shady. The water is cool and refreshing. Swimming is very popular in the summer months, and when the park hits capacity, the swim area is closed for at least two hours. The swimming hole may be closed in the event of inclement weather (call the park information line for the latest information at 512-660-9111). Pets (with the exception of service dogs), alcohol and glass are not permitted. Ice chests, picnics, camp chairs, 12′ x 12′ pop-up shade tents and floats and inner tubes are allowed.
Bull Creek Upper & Lower Greenbelt
Bull Creek is another great place to cool off during Texas summers. There are many access points, although perhaps the most popular for swimming is accessed by turning off 360 onto Lakewood Drive and turning immediately into the dirt parking lot. The Upper Greenbelt has a small deeper swimming hole in a spillway right where the creek goes underneath Old Spicewood Springs Road. Swimmers also enjoy the water with their furry friends at Bull Creek District Park, although the Park is now not an off-leash park due to alarming levels of bacteria found in the water. Read more about what Bull Creek has to offer here.
Website. Access from Spyglass entrance of the Barton Creek Greenbelt: 1500 Spyglass Dr., Austin. Open from dawn til dusk. FREE.
The main way to access Campbell’s Hole is via the Spyglass entrance of the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Once you walk down to the Creek, take a left and keep walking about a half a mile until you see a pebble beach and No Diving signs. You can also get to Campbell’s Hole by taking the trail behind Barton Hills Elementary, taking the right fork past the trailhead and following the creek until you see a clearing and cliffs. If the trails start to get confusing, just keep as close to the water as possible. As with all of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, water levels depend on the amount of rainfall and popular spots can get crowded, so head out early.
Deep Eddy Pool
Website. 401 Deep Eddy Dr. Open 10am-8pm during the week and 8am-8pm on weekends for recreational swimming. Austin residents: adults $3, 12-17 years old $2, seniors (62 and older) and 1-11 years old $1, under one year FREE. Non-residents: adults $8, 12-17 years old $4, seniors (62 and older) and 1-11 years old $4, under one year FREE.
Deep Eddy was established in 1915, making it the oldest swimming pool in Texas. Prior to that, it was a swimming hole in the Colorado River. Visitors can enjoy a recently renovated bathhouse, a beach entry, an upgraded pool deck and a spectacular mosaic mural, telling the history of the swimming hole. The parking lot can fill up during busy summer months. Eilers Park is located just adjacent to the pool. It’s hard to resist treating yourself to a Jim Jim’s water ice on a hot summer day. Deep Eddy hosts movie nights during the summer.
Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs
Website. 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs. Open 9am-6pm daily, weather permitting, but reservations are required mid-May through September. Call 512-264-2740 for daily swimming updates. Entry fees are $15 (cash only) per vehicle or $5 (cash only) per vehicle if the vehicle has a senior citizen (62 and up) or a disabled vet. Reservation fee is $10, plus a $1 credit card fee. The average total cost of visiting in the summer is $26.
You’ve probably seen incredibly beautiful photos of water dripping over the edge of the limestone outcroppings into this historic swimming hole. Although the water continues to flow over the edge, even in dry summer months, it can slow to a trickle during the summer. It’s a quarter mile walk down a trail, which is steep and rugged in spots, to the pool from the parking lot. The beach is also rocky. Bring your own drinking water and snacks, as no concessions are available. In addition to cooling off in the pool, you can also walk underneath the rock outcroppings on a trail. As is the case with many swimming holes, there are no lifeguards. Pets, glass and alcohol are not allowed. To protect overcrowding, the number of visitors is limited, which means that it’s very common to arrive to a long line and be turned away or wait an hour and a half to park. There are picnic tables, restrooms and trails past the Pool.
Jacob’s Well in Wimberley
Website. 1699 Mt. Sharp Rd., Wimberley. Swimming season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Open 10am-8pm by reservation only in two-hour blocks. Adults $9; Hays County residents, children ages 5-12, seniors (60+), service members/veterans $5 and children ages 4 and under FREE (payments made at the gate with credit cards ONLY. No cash accepted).
Just north of Wimberley is the Jacob’s Well Natural Area. The water flowing from the Well originates from the Trinity Aquifer, which is located about 140 feet beneath the water’s surface. Slightly acidic rainfall has eroded the limestone which formed the Well over time and is part of one of the longest underwater cave systems in the state. Limestone cliffs surround the well and the main attraction is usually watching others jump off the cliffs into the Well, despite signs warning against doing so. Taking a float and lounging in the cool water and having a picnic lunch on the rocks is also a nice way to spend an afternoon. To protect the swimming hole, Hays County closed Jacob’s Well and recently re-opened the Natural Area by reservation only. Visitors must now reserve a two-hour block online and pay upon arrival. Swimming will be limited to 60 visitors at a time. Scuba diving, camping, pets, glass and alcohol are prohibited.
Krause Springs in Spicewood
Website. 404 Krause Springs Rd., Spicewood. Open from 9am-9pm. Adults $7 (12+), children 4-11 years old $5, FREE for children under 4 (cash only). Additional cost for overnight guests.
Krause Springs actually has 32 springs on the 115-acre property, although it’s best known for a large swimming hole. Limestone rocks provide ample places to put your things or relax outside of the pool. The entry can be slippery. There is one rope swing, and one cool feature is the ability to swim into a grotto adorned with ferns and with water dripping from above. Kids can also have fun exploring the course of the water outside of the main swimming hole as it wraps through cypress roots. In addition to camping and RV hookups, Krause Springs has a butterfly garden, manmade pool, showers, BBQ pits and a pavilion. The Springs that feed the pools flow year round at a constant 68 degrees, even in drought. No glass, no loud music and no pets. You can read about Catherine’s experience taking small kids to Krause Springs here.
Website. 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway. Open daily from 8am-10pm. Adults $6, children 12 and under FREE.
McKinney falls offers camping, hiking, mountain and road biking, picnicking, fishing and wildlife observation, in addition to swimming. There have been several tragedies involving swimming at McKinney Falls in recent years, so please read these swimming safety tips before heading out. It’s only a short and easy walk downhill to the main swimming hole at McKinney Falls. You can take advantage of a beach entry, complete with small shells. There is often a small waterfall flowing into the swimming hole.
Pedernales Falls in Johnson City
Website. 2595 Park Road 6026, Johnson City. Open daily from 8am-10pm. Adults $6, children 12 and under FREE.
Another state park with a natural swimming area is Pedernales Falls, nestled in the Hill Country. Similar to McKinney Falls, Pedernales also has camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and animal observation. The main swimming area is a short hike down from a parking area. There are swimming holes scattered throughout the Park, depending on rainfall levels.
Website. Access the Barton Creek Greenbelt just south of the intersection of 360 and Mopac (3900 W. Frontage (Mopac)). If you exit Mopac, you can usually see cars lined up along the Southbound Mopac access road. Open dawn til dusk. FREE.
Yet another place to enjoy swimming in Austin is Twin Falls, which is a short hike from the 360/Mopac Barton Creek Greenbelt access point. Pack in your own drinking water and snacks. Go early, as Twin Falls is extremely popular. There is a rope swing and the water gets quite deep in the swimming hole, depending on recent rainfall. Dogs will often be seen enjoying the water alongside their human companions.