Waterfalls, rivers, lakes and swimming holes where Texans can chill out this summer

Have you ever heard of the Devil’s Waterhole?

Inks Lake State Park (Ashley H., Yelp)

SAN ANTONIO – It’s Texas, which means the dog days of summer are almost upon us and it’s only going to get hotter outside.

There are many places you can cool off beyond just your average pool. Texas is filled with waterfalls, rivers, lakes and various swimming holes where you can beat the heat.

San Antonio and the surrounding areas, including parts of the Texas Hill Country, are full of places to take a dip when the weather is hot.

The places on this list are definitely not all-encompassing for the state of Texas, but they’re within driving distance of San Antonio.

  • Barton Springs - Cool off in a spring-fed pool in Austin that spans three acres. The water is 68-70 degrees year-round and reservations are not required but it is highly encouraged that you purchase entry tickets ahead of your visit. Entry passes can be purchased here. Barton Spring is located at 2131 William Barton Drive in Austin, roughly 90 minutes outside downtown San Antonio.
  • Blanco State Park - This state park is a quick trip out of San Antonio, just an hour north of the city. Fishing and swimming are permitted but there is a daily entrance fee of $5 for adults. Day passes must be purchased in advance, according to the park’s website. Reserve them online or by calling (512) 389-8900. The park is located at 101 Park Road 23 in Blanco.
  • Blue Hole - Located in Wimberley, it’s about an hour’s drive from downtown San Antonio. Day passes, which are required to swim, are available for two time slots. Prices range from $6 to $12. Swimming passes are available daily but weekends fill up fast. Purchase tickets here. The address for Blue Hole Regional Park is 100 Blue Hole Lane.
Blue Hole
  • Canyon Lake - There are three designated swim beaches at Canyon Lake. Comal and Canyon Parks have beaches for the general public and Potters Creek Park has a beach that only allows access to registered camping guests. Canyon Lake is located about an hour north of downtown San Antonio.
  • Comal River - This is a popular spot for tubers with many tubing outfitters located around New Braunfels. There are many river access points in parks across New Braunfels. The water is 70-72 degrees year-round. New Braunfels is located roughly 35 minutes outside downtown San Antonio.
  • Devil’s Waterhole - Hike the small canyon or swim at Devil’s Waterhole. When Valley Spring Creek is running, you can explore scenic waterfalls upstream of the lake at Inks Lake State Park. The park is located at 3630 Park Road 4 West in Burnet, roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes outside of downtown San Antonio. Entrance fees are $7 daily for adults.
  • Garner State Park - This state park has many spots along the Frio River to swim. Passes can be purchased online or by calling (512) 389-8900. The park typically reaches capacity so online reservations are highly recommended. Entrance fees are $8 a day for anyone aged 13 and older. The park is located at 234 RR 1050, roughly 95 minutes from downtown San Antonio.
The Frio River in Garner State Park. Image by Zereshk. (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Guadalupe Canoe Livery - This outfitter is also known as the “$5 spot” because day passes are just $5 for adults. There are options for camping and you can also rent canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes or just hang out in the river. Guadalupe Canoe Livery is located at 8195 Highway 281 North in Spring Branch, just a 40-minute drive outside downtown San Antonio.
  • Guadalupe River State Park - This state park is open for swimming and is located in Spring Branch at 3350 Park Road 31, about 40 minutes outside downtown San Antonio. Day passes are encouraged for guests wishing to visit the park and cost $7 for anyone aged 13 and older. Passes can be purchased online or by calling (512) 389-8900.
  • Hamilton Pool - Hamilton Pool is a great day trip location for San Antonio that offers beautiful views, swimming and hiking. Be aware the pool sometimes closes due to high bacteria levels. Swimming access updates are posted online. Reservations are required for swimming at Hamilton Pool and there are fees for entry. This one’s a bit far — located roughly 2 hours from downtown San Antonio.
Hamilton Pool
  • Krause Springs - This location is approximately an hour-and-a-half drive from downtown San Antonio. Camping and swimming are allowed, but you will have to pay a fee of up to $10 for a day pass. The springs that feed the pools, according to the website, are 68 degrees year-round. Krause Springs is located at 424 Country Road 404 in Spicewood.
  • Landa Park Aquatic Complex - Landa Park in New Braunfels is a short drive from San Antonio at about 40 minutes. The spring-fed pool is open on various days throughout the summer. It’s a constant 72 degrees year-round. The pool was built in the early 1900s and is one of the oldest and most historic bathing pools in Texas. It’s located at 110 Golf Course Road.
  • McKinney Falls State Park - This park is located at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway in Austin, roughly 75 minutes from downtown San Antonio. The park is filled with waterfalls, great swimming spots and places for camping. Day passes and camping reservations are highly recommended for this park. Passes cost $6 for anyone aged 13 or older. Make reservations online.
  • Paradise Canyon - Nestled on the Medina River, this swim spot charges by vehicle. Full details on pricing are available here. Paradise Canyon is located at 2220 Country Road 2615 in Rio Medina, roughly 45 minutes from downtown San Antonio.
  • Rio Vista Park - Located at 555 Cheatham Street in San Marcos, this is a great place to kayak, paddle or swim. It’s just under an hour’s drive from downtown San Antonio. The amenities include restrooms, tennis courts, 1/2 basketball court, picnic tables, benches, a pavilion, a city swimming pool, hike and bike trails and trash cans, according to the park’s website. There are no admission or parking fees.
  • San Marcos River -Here is another great river for tubing, with many tubing outfitters to choose from. The river stays a constant 72 degrees year-round and is a popular spot for locals. San Marcos is roughly a one-hour drive from downtown San Antonio.
  • Schumacher Crossing - You can cool off at this swim spot located between Ingram and Hunt along Highway 39, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive from downtown San Antonio. It’s a popular spot for swimming along part of the Guadalupe River and is typically very clean because it’s not located near any major cities.

Despite the much-needed rains San Antonio and the surrounding areas have seen recently, water levels at some of the listed swimming spots above might be lower than anticipated. It’s best to check individual websites before heading out to ensure you’re happy when you arrive.

Wondering why you don’t see spring-fed Jacob’s Well Natural Area on the list? It’s one of the most popular swimming holes in Texas but it will remain closed “for the foreseeable future” due to low water levels and spring flow, according to Hays County Parks officials. Although swimming activities aren’t permitted, parkgoers can still visit the area for hiking and viewing the spring.

Under normal conditions, Jacob’s Well releases thousands of gallons of water every day from the Trinity Aquifer, which comes from an extensive underground cave system, according to Hays County Parks officials.

Before you head out the door — keep in mind that Texas is a naturally diverse state and preserving the beauty of the land is important. Keep your footprint to a minimum and don’t leave trash or destroy the landscape while visiting these Hill Country hideaways.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.