There are many ways to outsmart the heat and humidity in Texas, but none as exciting and relaxing as soaking in a natural swimming hole. Thanks to its colorful geology and penchant for housing natural springs, the Texas hill country contains a multitude of natural swimming holes and these spectacular twelve are within an hour’s drive time of downtown Austin:

1.) Barton Springs Pool

Photo: Flickr user Amy Gizinski, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Amy Gizinski, CC licensed.

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Nestled in Austin’s beloved Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool is a popular three-acre swimming hole that attracts swimmers and endangered salamanders alike. Though it is much more developed than the other natural swimming holes 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

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