Sweltering triple digit temperatures are a given in August in Texas. Nothing provides relief from the blazing heat quite like jumping into a cool, clear, spring-fed swimming hole. Lucky for many Texans, the lush rolling hills of Central Texas offer many stunningly beautiful options among the thousands of springs that are found in Texas Hill Country. So grab your floating chairs and beach towels and head to these five spectacular swimming holes:
Barton Springs Pool: Often dubbed the "Crown Jewel of Austin," Barton Springs Pool is fed from an underground spring and averages a chilly 68 degrees year-round. This three acre pool is surrounded by grassy banks, and its crystal clear water leaves you feeling like you are swimming in an aquarium. Be sure to bring goggles so you can watch the fish swim amongst the seaweed growing up from the limestone bottom. The grounds include bathrooms with changing rooms and showers, a walk-up snack bar and picnic tables. Admission Fee: $3 per adult, $2 for ages 12-17, $1 for ages 11 and under.
Hamilton Pool: This Dripping Springs' swimming hole gives the impression of Mars meets Hawaii. A quarter mile hike from the parking area, the jade green pool was formed by the collapse of a large cave into Hamilton Creek, leaving a 50-foot waterfall that pours into the pool. Stalactites and lush ferns grow from the ceiling of the remains of the cave, and huge slabs of limestone surround Hamilton Pool. Arrive early on weekends and holidays, as the parking area fills up quickly. Restrooms are located in the parking area. Admission Fee: $10 per vehicle.
Jacob's Well: Jacob's Well is located in Wimberley. The source is an artesian spring that surges up from one of the longest caves in Texas at the rate of thousands of gallons per minute. In order to minimize human impact on the richly diverse sensitive ecosystem, this very small, intimate oasis is accessed via a guided ecological tour. The tour will leave you with plenty of time to jump off the rocks into the underwater grotto and to swim in the surrounding spring water. Only 25 swimmers are allowed in the water at a time. Admission Fee: Free.
The Blue Hole: Wimberley is also home to The Blue Hole, which just might be the perfect swimming hole. Old growth bald cypress trees strung with Spanish moss provide a canopy of welcome shade from the scorching sun, and grassy banks provide the perfect spot for a picnic. With rope swings and plenty of space for floating on noodles and tubes, you'd be hard pressed to dream up a better swimming hole. The grounds include changing rooms and restrooms. Admission Fee: $8 per adult and $4 per child. Age 3 and under swim free.
Krause Springs: Located in Spicewood, 32 springs are on the property of this camping and swimming site. The springs feed both a man-made pool and a natural swimming hole that is located at the bottom of a steep hill. Here a 30-foot waterfall flows over a fern-covered collapsed grotto that you can swim into. The swimming area offers a rope swing and is surrounded by ancient cypress trees and large smooth limestone boulders. Getting in and out of the water can be a bit precarious due to the slippery rock, so bring water shoes. The grounds include changing rooms and restrooms. Admission Fee: $6 per adult and $4 per child. Age 3 and under swim free.