Plan A Trip To The South To Take A Dip In The Top-Ranked Swimming Hole In America

Beat the heat on a warm Texas day with the number one swimming hole in the U.S., the Hamilton Pool, as ranked by Attractions of America. Close to the much-loved city of Austin, Dripping Springs lives up to its name with this naturally-formed pool that runs underneath a 50-foot waterfall.

The Hamilton Pool Preserve forms part of Travis County Parks, meaning there are lovely views from the emerald-green water of this swimming hole. Even in drought, the water in the pool remains constant, though the waterfall may be more of a trickle than a pour.

When ranchers used the land, they avoided grazing their livestock close to Hamilton Pool in case the animals fell in! However, the pool has proved more popular with human visitors ever since the 1960s when transport made it easy to enjoy a dip here. The sheer number of people degraded the land until the Parks Department acquired it in the 1980s and restored it to its natural glory. It takes about 50 minutes to drive to Hamilton Pool from Austin.

What you need to know about visiting Hamilton Pool

It is essential to book your slot for this picturesque pool in advance as it is so popular that the parks department wants to ensure it is not overrun with visitors. Reservations can be made for the morning period from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. or in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Cars are included in the reservation to ensure space in the small parking lot, which costs $12 per vehicle. On arrival, all visitors must pay an $8 entrance fee. It is $3 for those over 62 and free for children 12 or under. The Hamilton Pool Preserve is cash only, so remember to bring some! The walk from the parking lot to the pool only takes 15 minutes.

Due to falling rocks, the area under the rock overhang and behind the waterfall is closed to prevent injuries to swimmers. However, visitors can go on other trails within the park after a dip in the pool. Occasionally, weather conditions and bacteria levels may mean swimming isn't possible, so it is important to check the Travis County Parks website before you go. There are picnic benches if you want to have lunch after your swim.

Things to do near Hamilton Pool Preserve

While in the area surrounding Dripping Springs, outdoor lovers will enjoy plenty of verdant and craggy landscapes beyond the Hamilton Pool Preserve. For those who can't get enough of hiking, there is Reimers Ranch Park and Pedernales Falls State Park, which both allow swimming in the Pedernales River. If you want to be even more adventurous, there are canyon tours at the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, which features a 40-foot waterfall and a wet grotto to explore!

Another swimming hole is Krause Springs in Spicewood, where 32 natural springs fill one natural and one manmade pool. When it is too hot to hike, the area has several vineyards and wineries for your relaxation. These include the Hamilton Pool Vineyards, Hawk's Shadow Estate Winery, Spicewood Vineyards, Stone House Vineyard, and Flat Creek Estate Winery & Vineyard, all offering tasting tours.

The fun doesn't stop when night falls, as Dripping Springs is part of the International Dark Sky Community, which means that this is one of the places in Texas where you can stargaze!