8 Best Natural Swimming Holes In Texas For Cooling Off On A Hot Day

From a sprawling spring-fed pool in the West Texas desert to a revered refuge in downtown Austin.

When you live in Texas, where temperatures this summer have hit a sweltering 106 degrees, a high-flying leap into an old- fashioned swimming hole can feel like a cold compress to the forehead. Thankfully we’ve got enough rivers, lakes, and spring-fed pools in the Lone Star State to keep even the Heat Mizer comfortable. We’re not talking cement ponds, either. We prefer swimming holes with natural bottoms and the occasional fish to nip your toes. Aquatic plants? We’ll take ’em. A rope swing? Even better. A swim platform? Yes, please.

From a sprawling spring-fed pool in the desert of West Texas to a revered refuge in downtown Austin, dip your toes in the many natural swimming holes across the state. Here are 8 of the best swimming holes in Texas for keeping cool.

<p>Gabrela Herman</p>

Gabrela Herman

Blue Hole in Wimberley

Grab a rope swing and launch yourself into the sapphire-colored waters of Cypress Creek at Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley. Towering cypress trees, their knobby knees scrunched up around them, fringe the edges of this beloved natural pool, where the water is clear as gin. And when you’re done swimming, stretch out for a nap on the shady lawn.

<p>Rush Jagoe</p>

Rush Jagoe

Balmorhea in Toyahville

You’ll feel like a guppy in an aquarium when you glide through the 3.5-million gallon, natural-bottom swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park in far West Texas. Bring a mask so you can spy on the two endangered species fish that live here: the Pecos Gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish, both about the size of your thumb. Take the time to spring off the high dive, and keep an eye out for scuba divers, who like to explore the sparkling recesses of this true desert oasis.

Barton Springs in Austin

Steal away from the bustling city to swim at this spring-fed pool in Zilker Park. It’s so revered by locals that easing into its water is like slipping into a church pew. Line up at the diving board and demonstrate your best belly flop, look for fish hiding in the aquatic grasses that sprout from the bottom, or just revel in your good fortune as you float in water that hovers between 68- and 72-degrees year-round. Time your visit to Barton Springs for the full moon, and you can join those gathered for the collective howl as the sun sets and the moon appears.

<p>Gabrela Herman</p>

Gabrela Herman

Camp Tonkawa Springs in Garrison

Camp Tonkawa Springs, a former Boy Scout Camp whose water was a source for Ozarka Water Company in the 1980s, opened as a privately-run park in 2001. Today, visitors flock to the pond, which has a white sandy bottom and water temperatures that hover around 68 degrees, to escape the East Texas heat. Bonus: Notches cut into the trunk of a slanted tree make an easy ladder to the best rope swing in the East Texas Piney Woods.

Frio River at Garner State Park

Frio is Spanish for “cold,” and the Frio River lives up to its name as it cuts through Garner State Park near Uvalde. Last year more than 517,000 visitors flocked to the park, which has 2.9 miles riverfront, and many of them took a dip in that chilly water. You can float it in an inner tube, paddle it in a canoe, or just lay on the bank, watching sunlight filter through the lime-green leaves of the cypress that line it banks. If you’re into dancing, stick around after you dry off. Thousands of Texans learned to two-step on the old stone dance floor within spitting distance of that deep green water.

<p>Brown V. Cannon III</p>

Brown V. Cannon III

Devil’s Waterhole

According to local legend, the Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park, 60 miles northwest of Austin, got its name from a former land owner who cussed loudly when his wagon got stuck while crossing it. Today, the small inlet on Inks Lake draws daredevils who scamper up giant slabs of red granite and hurl themselves off 40-foot cliffs into the lake below. If you’re not into cliff jumping, you’ll still like swimming and sunning like a lizard on the boulders there.

San Marcos River in Martindale

Many get to know the San Marcos River while training for the Texas Water Safari, a paddling race that traces the cold, blue-green ribbon from San Marcos south to its merging point with the Blanco River. You an access its brisk waters at multiple points including Rio Vista Park in downtown San Marcos, where paddlers practice navigating a series of man-made rapids, or hop in farther downstream, at Shady Grove Campground in the quaint little town of Martindale.

<p>Gary Clark</p>

Gary Clark

Krause Springs in Spicewood

Thirty miles west of Austin, the owners of the fern-lined oasis known as Krause Springs proudly proclaim that their springs never run dry, even during periods of drought. You’ll find a man-made pool at the top of a bluff, but veterans know to take the stone steps down to the natural swimming hole below. Once there, make for the Volkswagen-sized grotto, where you’ll feel like you’re in Hawaii. In all, 32 springs burble up on the property, where you can also pitch a tent or park an RV.

For more Southern Living news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Southern Living.