Let’s Go Swim, DFW!

Now that Texas is returning to its normal, hit and humid summery weather, we are all looking for a place to get out of the house. Somewhere to get away from the hot concrete. And, somewhere to cool off. We;;, the Houston Chronicle has some good suggestions for us.

These underrated Texas swimming holes will keep you cool this summer

Gianni Jaccoma

Feb. 25, 2021Updated: May 31, 2021 1:18 p.m.

Chlorine pools are all well and good, but any self-respecting Texan knows the only antidote to a Texas heat wave is a visit to one of the state’s many, many swimming holes.

Taking a dip surrounded by shady trees and picturesque rocks is an unbeatable experience, and while big names like Barton Springs and Blue Hole draw a lot of well-deserved attention, there are lots of underrated swimming holes that deserve your patronage this summer. Here’s a list of some of our favorites, along with some key details to help you plan your visit.

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Dinosaur Valley State Park

Visitors to Dinosaur Valley State Park can swim, see dinosaur tracks and camp where dinosaurs once walked.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Nearest city: Dallas (1.5-hour drive)

Admission: $7 for adults, free for kids under 12

With its two separate access points, Dinosaur Valley’s Paluxy River offers multiple depth options for swimmers of all ages to bask in clear, green-tinted water. There’s more than just swimming to occupy your time here, though. When the water levels are low enough, around late summer, you can tour the riverbed and walk in the actual footsteps of dinosaurs from over 100 million years ago.


McKinney Falls

McKinney Falls State Park in Austin offers some peaceful scenery along a hiking trail.

Chase Fountain/TPWD/San Antonio Express-News

Nearest city: Austin (16-minute drive)

Admission: $6 for adults, free for kids under 12

Austinites have a lot of big-name swimming holes to choose from, like Deep Eddy Pool, or the Greenbelt, but Mckinney Falls State Park is no slouch when it comes to swimming. You can opt for the Upper Falls, whose deeper water makes it the more popular choice among locals, or check out the Lower Falls for an equally relaxing gravel beach that might be a bit less crowded at peak times.

Boykin Springs Recreation Area

Contract: NRSO
Park: 72156









Boykin Springs at Angelina National Forest, Zavalla.


Nearest city: Houston (2.5-hour drive)

Admission: Free

Inside Angelina State Forest, Boykin Springs Lake offers East Texans nine acres of tranquil, all-natural waters for swimming. If you’re after something a bit further off the beaten path, there are three spring-fed swimming holes off Boykin Creek that are totally undeveloped and unsupervised. The opaque water is shallow, but the uneven and rocky bottom can make wading barefoot a bit tricky if you’re not careful.

Bandera City Park


Bandera City Park on the Medina River is only one hour from downtown San Antonio.


Nearest city: San Antonio (1-hour drive)

Admission: Free on weekdays, $10 for adults on weekends

You won’t have to look hard for this swimming hole, located right at the edge of Main Street in Bandera, Texas. Swing by after a heavy rainfall, and you’ll be greeted by a milky green section of the Medina River that’s perfect for kayaking, tubing or good old fashioned doggy paddling.

Daingerfield State Park


Daingerfield State Park.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Nearest city: Dallas (2-hour drive)

Admission: $4 for adults, free for kids under 12

If you’re after the perfect lake experience, you’ll find it at Daingerfield State Park. Lake Daingerfield’s 80 acres of placid water are ringed by trees, with a floating dock at the center and enough room for swimmers, canoers, kayakers and local wildlife to coexist. You’ll probably see some fish flit past your legs while you’re swimming, and if that makes you uncomfortable you might want to reconsider the whole swimming-in-a-natural-lake thing.

Boquillas Hot Springs

Canoeing by Boquillas, Mexico.

Go Big Bend/Mike Davidson

Nearest city: El Paso (5.5-hour drive)

Admission: $30 per vehicle

It might not be a practical way to cool off on a hot summer day, and it’s less a destination for swimming than outright soaking, but Boquillas Hot Springs is absolutely worth putting on your radar. Located on the banks of the Rio Grande inside the sprawling Big Bend National Park, the springs are 105 degrees year-round and are situated within the remains of a 1900s bathhouse. Just stay out of the river, as it’s way too rough to swim in safely.

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