and just like that, spring is over. the temperatures are creeping up, and not cooling off at night. my husband and i walked to our neighborhood wine night (yes) last week, and i was struck by how quickly jeans season ended. after years in california with its cool nights, we’re back in texas, where it’s time to shed pants for summer shorts and skirts.
so its the perfect time to talk about my favorite texas swimming holes. i’m much more of a city girl than a nature lover, but california taught me a lot about appreciating nature (maybe it was our proximitiy to griffith park that helped me live at peace with coyotes and that rogue mountain lion), and now i can’t get enough of the perfectly and naturally formed swimming pool, shaded by trees and open to all. there are three that i’ve really enjoyed visiting: two in or near austin and one in far west texas.
- jacob’s well, wimberley, texas – just southwest of austin in the beautiful texas hill country lies wimberley, a place i visited a lot growing up and never fully appreciated until i was older. jacob’s well is a 30-foot deep well in the middle of a shallow creek, surrounded by rock cliffs and shaded by trees. though the well is deep, the surrounding creek bed only has about two feet of water lined with slippery rocks. scuba divers used to dive to the bottom of the well, and crawl through a narrow space at the bottom that opened up to another drop-off, estimated to be around 150 feet deep (a couple of deaths caused the city to grate over the drop-off and prohibit scuba diving). go early as lines can form in the summer, bring a picnic and goggles, and find a warm rock on which to sun bathe while taking a cool dip in the well.
- barton springs, austin, texas – located in the middle of austin at zilker park, barton springs is an austin favorite. formed from natural springs from main barton spring, the water is refreshing and sparkling (read: freezing, no matter what time of year), and is where the party’s at. the city has lined the springs with cement to make it into more of an outdoor pool, and there are plenty of grassy areas or bleachers to set up for the entire day. the people watching is fantastic (especially if you go outside the gates a bit further down), and remember: topless sunbathing is allowed everywhere in austin.
- balmorhea springs, balmorhea, texas – so, this one is…remote. we stumbled upon this gem during a trip to marfa in far west texas, and it is definitely worth a stop. these springs have the clearest water i’ve ever seen, and are located at balmorhea state park. for $7, you can enter the springs, swim for awhile, and enjoy the grounds. there are campgrounds and cabins onsite, and it seems to be a favorite among kids. this would be a perfect stop during a tour of west texas that could include a couple of nights in marfa, a stop in alpine, a drive through big bend with a stop at terlingua (home of the texas chili festival), and a visit to the mcdonald observatory (see more of my thoughts on that here).
the next step is to find some swimming holes closer to home around dallas – do you have any favorites in your part of the world?