Ready to get wet? Your Austin swimming adventures await!
Barton Springs Pool
Nestled in Austin’s beloved Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a popular three-acre Austin swimming hole that attracts swimmers and endangered salamanders alike. Though it is much more developed than the other natural Austin pools on this list, Barton Springs is spring-fed and is a federally protected habitat for wildlife — we weren’t kidding about the salamanders! Besides the beautiful atmosphere and clear waters, Barton Springs’ greatest plus is its constant water temperatures of 68-70 degrees. That means year-round cannonballing, people!
2.9 miles from Capitol. 2201 Barton Springs Rd. 512-867-3080. Open daily 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Thursdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. $5 parking. $1-3 admission per person depending on age and residency. Food, coolers, glass, alcohol, sports balls, and frisbees are prohibited. More information.
McKinney Falls — Upper Falls
This state park houses not one but two of the most gorgeous natural Austin swimming holes on this list. Limestone and cypress-lined, the Upper Falls swimming hole tends to be the most popular hangout spots for park guests looking to beat the heat. One of the Upper Falls’ prime features is a prominent limestone shelf that doubles as a diving board!
10.3 miles from Capitol. 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy near Smith Visitor Center. 512-243-1643. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adults $6, children 12 and under get in free. More information.
McKinney Falls — Lower Falls
Though not quite as picturesque as the Upper Falls swimming hole, the Lower Falls pool often provides a better swimming experience because not as many park guests know about it. The Lower Falls also boasts a rock shelf diving board and more shoreline to picnic or sunbathe.
10.3 miles from Capitol. 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy near Homestead Trail marker. 512-243-1643. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adults $6, children 12 and under get in free. More information.
Twin Falls is one of three seasonal swimming holes along Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. During the summer months, you can forget about Twin Falls because the pool dries up in the non-rainy months, but in wetter seasons or several days after a particularly heavy rain, you will be able to enjoy Twin Falls in all of its glory and take advantage of its rope swing and jumping rock.
5.8 miles from Capitol. Find Barton Creek Greenbelt Trailhead on S MoPac Expy Service Rd, hike down to the creek and keep right for about five miles to find Twin Falls. Open sunrise to sunset. Free. Hide and lock valuables in vehicle. More information.
Gus Fruh Swimming Hole
Like Twin Falls, the awesome pool along the Gus Fruh Trail is often dry in the summer months and is most impressive a few days after a good storm. Fewer Austinites know about Gus Fruh, which makes for a quieter and more peaceful swimming experience surrounded by nature.
4.7 miles from Capitol. Find Barton Creek Greenbelt/Gus Fruh Trailhead at 2642 Barton Hills Dr and follow trail to swimming hole. Open sunrise to sunset. Free. Hide and lock valuables in vehicle. More information.
Sculpture Falls is something of a hidden treasure in Austin — and that’s probably because it requires a one-mile hike to enjoy! While this pool reportedly stays at least somewhat full during the summer, it’s still best to save swimming plans at Sculpture Falls for a rainier month since it’s located along the Greenbelt.
7.6 miles from Capitol. Find Barton Creek Greenbelt Trailhead at 1710 Camp Craft Rd and follow for 1 mile, always forking to the right. Open sunrise to sunset. Free. Hide and lock valuables in vehicle. More information.
Blue Hole Georgetown
Not to be confused with the natural swimming hole in Wimberley by the same name, Georgetown’s Blue Hole is a part of the San Gabriel River, which runs north of Austin. Unfortunately, jumping off of the limestone cliffs that border one side of this popular swimming area is illegal, but the water’s great!
27.5 miles from Capitol. Blue Hole Park, 2nd Ave and Rock St, Georgetown, TX, 78626. 512-930-3595. Open sunrise to sunset. Free. More information.
Just 36 miles outside of Austin, Krause Springs is a lovely spring-fed swimming hole. Happily, water levels and temperatures stay consistent and comfortable year-round, so whether it’s been rainy or dry, you can rest assured that your drive to Spicewood won’t be wasted. The spring is actually located on private property, which means that, much to many a relaxing Texan’s delight, alcohol in moderation is A-OK.
36.1 miles from Capitol. 404 Krause Springs Rd, Spicewood, TX, 78669. Open daily 9 a.m. to sundown. Adults $7, children 4-11 years $5, children 4 and under get in free. Pets and glass are prohibited. More information.
If you’re up for an early morning swim, check out Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs. With its 50-foot waterfall, hanging ferns, and sheer canyon walls, this swimming hole attracts quite a crowd on any given day. Due to its popularity, officials have now created a reservation system for the park. Reservations fill up fast for months in advance, so get those calendars out and make your reservations. Read here for full details.
30.6 miles from Capitol. 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX, 78620. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, space limited. $10 per vehicle. More information.
Johnson City’s Pedernales Falls State Park plays host to the winding Pedernales River, which offers many prime swimming areas. From small wading pools to deeper swimming holes, this river has it all. Just make sure to check with park rangers and/or the park’s trail map to be certain that you’re not swimming in protected areas!
33.7 miles from Capitol. 585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX, 78636. 830-868-7304. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adults $6, children 12 and under get in free. Swimming areas designated on park map. More information.
Jacob’s Well looks like something out of an undersea horror movie, like the lair of some deadly sea serpent. It’s actually the end of a complex underground cave system and natural spring. The water is so crisp and clear that the Well looks like an empty, bottomless abyss from the the limestone bluff above it. Jumping is prohibited…
36.4 miles from Capitol. 1699 Mt Sharp Rd, Wimberley, TX, 78676. Open daily sunrise to sunset. Free. Pets, glass, alcohol, smoking, fishing, and scuba diving are prohibited. More information.
Blue Hole Wimberley
In close proximity to Jacob’s Well is another prime natural Austin swimming spot: Blue Hole in Wimberley. If you’re looking for a classic Texas hill country swimming experience complete with cypress trees, crystal clear water, and a rope swing, look no further!
38.2 miles from Capitol. 100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberley, TX, 78676. Park open daily 8 a.m. to dusk. Swimming area open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. now through Sept 1, 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, and 27-28 (2014 season). Admission $5-9 depending on age. (512) 847-0025. More information.
These 12 Austin swimming hole suggestions should keep you occupied for a good while, but once you’ve exhausted this list try exploring Bull Creek and Walnut Creek in Austin, Brushy Creek in Round Rock, and San Marcos River for other great swimming spots. If you know of any other Austin swimming holes that we didn’t mention, particularly ones within Austin city limits, let us know!
Featured photo: Flickr user Phalinn Ooi, CC licensed