Every Texan knows that swimming holes are essential for surviving summer, especially by the time August comes along. If you’ve worn a path from your front door to your favorite swimming spot and are looking for new waters to tread, here are ten secluded finds to explore. Toss your towel, sunscreen, and a good book in the car and set out to take a dip into some of the best secret waters in Texas. (Feel free to bring your pup, too—all these spots are dog-friendly.)
Boykin Springs, Angelina National Forest
455 Park Road 17, Daingerfield, TX 75638
Nestled out east among the loblolly, longleaf, and shortleaf pine of Angelina National Forest, Boykin Springs feeds a serene nine-acre lake. This forest-rimmed spot is a beauty on a hot day, but the real delight at Angelina are the three secret swimming holes around the corner from the picnic pavilion. Campers in the forest know this spot, so don’t be surprised if kids in floaties and parents in camping chairs dip their toes in with you. When you’re in the water, look to the right for the channel that will take you down to two super-secret, chest-deep pockets of spring water.
Utopia Community Park
241 Utopia Park Road, Utopia, Texas 78884
Utopia Community Park is a hidden gem north of Uvalde’s wild Frio River tubing scene. Here in Utopia, you’ll find a magical grove of cypress trees gathered along the Sabinal River. Picnic tables, grills, seesaws, and abundant shade await at this relaxing spot, which is mighty different from the raucous outdoor life of Guadalupe River State Park. Bring a book and sit awhile—there’s no need to be in a hurry here.
Wagon Wheel Crossing
FM 1340, Hunt, TX
From Hunt General Store, spin your wheels about eight miles down FM 1340 and keep your eyes out for the limestone embankment off the side of the road known to locals as Wagon Wheel Crossing. The water doesn’t get too deep at this easy, accessible spot, perfect for wading, relaxing, and picnicking. The landscape at the edge of the Hill Country is stunning and Kerrville, where you can spend your next trip exploring Louise Hays Park, is only a short drive away.
“Come and Take It” Historic Swimming Hole
Route 183, Gonzales, TX
Known as the birthplace of Texas independence, Gonzales is the site of the famous “Come and Take It!” stand-off. Monuments of the famous cannon confrontation point the way to an excellent swim spot on the Guadalupe River, where bald cypress and pecan trees lead swimmers down a grassy hill to a stretch of riverbank. The water is clear and fast here, so hang on to the rocks and roots that jut across the riverbed if you aren’t a strong swimmer. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab the rope tied to a bald cypress branch and swing your way into the deep water.
Devil’s River State Natural Area
HC 01, P.O. Box 513, Del Rio, TX 78840
The Devil’s River Natural Area north of Del Rio covers 37,000 acres at the nexus of the Edwards Plateau, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Tamaulipan region. To get to the water in this incredibly rich, biodiverse area, be prepared for a long drive through narrow, rocky corridors that dip, rise, and turn without warning. Follow all of the wooden “River” signs through this breathtaking terrain and you’ll be rewarded with a mile-and-a-half hike down to San Pedro Point. The swimming on this part of the river is shared with natural vegetation and schools of small fish. There’s not much out here and certainly no souvenir shops, so you’ll have to make your own bumper sticker that says, “I Survived Devil’s River,” but the adventure is worth it.
James Kiehl River Bend Park
118 River Bend Road, Comfort, Texas 78013
There’s a special feeling at James Kiehl Park. The stillness of the surrounding prairieland holds a quiet spot of intentional peace dedicated to James Kiehl, a local Army soldier who served in Iraq. Spend a moment at the sandstone monument where you can read about Kiehl’s life before heading down a short trail to the sloped dirt path that takes you to the Guadalupe. The river here pools around rocks and cypress roots as the sun shimmers through the leaves of the tall trees, offering an idyllic place to swim and reflect.
River Road, off of Route 55, Camp Wood, Texas 78833
North of Uvalde, the Nueces River runs through the town of Camp Wood where locals mosey to “the swim spot” on River Road on hot days. The Quince, named for its fifteen-foot depth, is a short climb down a rocky bank into a spot where the river is narrow enough to swim side to side. The sun has no trees or other cover to stand in its way, and you won’t find any immediate facilities for your comfort, either. All the comfort to be had is in the eye-popping blue of the river and its cold, deep waters.
Moffett Road, Medina, TX 78055
GPS won’t help you find Moffett Park in Medina. Head down Moffett Road to the spot where big sky opens up to walk right through the trees and into the crystal clear Medina River. This shallow spot is not for serious swimming, but it’s a good place to stick your feet in and feel far away from the hubbub of city life, even though civilization is only a stone’s throw away up Moffett Road.
Del Rio’s Blue Hole at Moore Park
Route 20, Del Rio, TX 78840
Located right in the busy center of Del Rio, San Felipe Springs feeds a creek that runs clear, cold, and mostly shallow. Known to locals as Blue Hole, this picturesque spot (which was a campsite for the experimental U.S. Army Camel Corps in the late 1850s) isn’t easily pinpointed on a map. Head towards Moore Park and look for a train trestle and small concrete bridge off of Route 90. A small parking lot will let you know you’re in the right place.
Llano River Slab
Crossing of Llano River and FM 3404/Slab Road, Kingsland, TX
This spot where the Llano River runs over Slab Road may not be so secret these days, but it’s still a unique natural stop on any swim trip through Texas. Pock-marked pink granite stretches out like moonscape and the natural dips and dents fill up with river water. The size and depth of the different wading areas vary without getting too deep, making it a fun place for kids to explore. On the other side of the crossing, the river is a bit deeper, offering an opportunity to use inflatable floats.