For the most part, Texas is generously watered. If you skirt the arid Trans Pecos and the Panhandle, you will discover a tight network of rivers, springs, man-made lakes, and underground water systems that extend across a large part of the state. The good old swimming holes that cover Texas like a patchwork quilt have played many roles. They were natural places to relax and shoot the bull with the boys, or to go courting under cover of darkness and surrounding underbrush. Swimming holes also witnessed zealous Sunday morning conversions and baptisms. They were secluded spots where you could sit alone at dusk and think, and they were the mostly likely spots for rowdy and rambunctious gangs of kids or peaceful family reunions.
Despite urban encroachment and the rapidly deteriorating environment, a respectable number of swimming holes still exist and still deliver maximum fun at wallet-pleasing prices. The only problem with inflation comes when inner tubes need blowing up.
The Comal is said to be the world’s shortest river. True or not, its 3 1/2 miles are unquestionably the turquoise jewel of Texas water recreation spots. Hands down.
The river begins in Landa Park, where several springs bubble up and flow into the park lake. Paddle boats and glass-bottomed boats are available for the benefit of small fry and the adults they cajole into accompanying them. No swimming is permitted in the lake, but part of the flow of the Comal is diverted into Landa Park Pool, a spring-fed pool with a natural rock bottom. Picnicking is free in the park (large groups excepted) but overnight camping is prohibited. From the park pool, the river flows toward Clemens Dam, a relic of the 1890s when hydropower ran the then adjoining grain mills. Nowadays, the dam is used as a prime socializing and gathering spot for the town’s