During summer months the Blanco and San Marcos rivers can provide some of the most idyllic swimming locations in Central Texas. Use this guide to take a visit to the picturesque Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, which recently instituted a reservation system to cut down on long lines, or visit the manmade Canyon Lake, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in May 2016. Whether visitors are looking to enjoy camping and swimming or a walk along scenic trails, the swimming holes featured here can delight almost anyone.
Blue Hole has attracted swimmers for at least a century, Park Manager Lauren Shrum said. The temperature of the water in the artesian spring-fed pool stays in the mid-70s year-round. The nonwater portion of the park is open for other activities, including sand volleyball, basketball and hiking from 8 a.m.-dusk.
Nearby attractions: downtown Wimberley, The Leaning Pear, Wimberley Zipline
Address: 100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberley
Contact: 512-660-9111, www.blueholeregionalpark.com
Hours: Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (weekends in May until Memorial Day weekend), Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day)
Cost: Ages 0-3: free, ages 4-12: $5, ages 13-59: $9, age 60 and older and active or retired military: $5
Camping: Ten sites available for organized groups of eight or more only
The Army Corps of Engineers created Canyon Lake in 1966 with the completion of the Canyon Dam. Fifty years later swimmers from Central Texas and areas more far-flung still enjoy swimming, boating and relaxing in the water and on the reservoir’s 80 miles of shoreline. The Corps of Engineers manages eight parks on Canyon Lake, including two beaches, each of which has boat ramps. Swimming season ends
Nearby attractions: downtown New Braunfels, Gruene Hall, The Gristmill
Address: 601 Corps of Engineers Road, Canyon Lake
Contact: 830-964-2223, www.canyonlakechamber.com
Cost: $5 per car.
Alcohol: Yes, but no glass containers.
Five Mile Dam Park features
18 acres of access to the Blanco River. The park sustained heavy damage during the Memorial Day weekend flood in May 2015, but it has since reopened to the public. The adjoining Five Mile Dam Soccer Complex opened in 2010 and regularly hosts soccer tournaments and other athletic events. Dogs are allowed on leashes.
Nearby attractions: Texas Pie Co., Central Texas Speedway,
Address:4440 S. Old Stagecoach Road, Kyle
Hours:Mon.-Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
On May 15 the Travis County Parks Department began requiring reservations to visit Hamilton Pool through Sept. 30. The reservation system is aimed at reducing the number of people turned away at the park entrance. Hamilton Pool is formed by Hamilton Creek, which spills out from an overhang into the pool, creating a 50-foot-tall waterfall. Entry fees must be paid via cash or local check.
Nearby attractions: The Art Garage, Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, Jester King Brewery
Address: 24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs
Contact: 512-264-2740, https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool
Hours: Reservations can be made online for four-hour time blocks from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and from 2-6 p.m.
Cost:$8 for bicyclists and pedestrians, $15 per vehicle; $11 online reservation fee
Jacob’s Well is a popular wading and swimming destination that also includes a series of walking trails. Access to the well is limited to groups of about 60 people at a time in order to protect the sensitive nature of the area, said Brooke Leftwich, Hays County Natural Resources manager. Reservations can be made online for two-hour time blocks. Swimming season ends Labor Day Weekend. Dogs are not allowed.
Nearby attractions: Duchman Winery, Salt Lick Barbecue, Twisted X Brewing Co.
Address: 1699 Mt. Sharp Road, Wimberley
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: Free entry, but swimming is $5 (Hays County residents or nonresidents seniors, veterans and children age 12 and older), $9 (nonresident adults)
In 2005, a canoer in the San Marcos River-fed swimming hole at Rio Vista Park noticed a major crack in the dam built just after the turn of the 20th century. In response, the city spent $2 million to salvage the beloved swimming hole. On Memorial Day 2006, the park reopened with three new drop structures, and it remains a hot spot for kayakers and tubers.
Nearby attractions: Middleton Brewery, Hays County BBQ, San Marcos Premium Outlets
Address: 555 Cheatham St., San Marcos
Contact: 512-393-8400, www.sanmarcostx.gov
Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.