Visit Hamilton Pool Preserve, a beautiful and favorite natural wonder and swimming hole near Austin.
It’s taken way too long for me to visit Hamilton Pool but I’m so glad I finally did. What a beautiful gem we have near Austin and in Texas! While it is a swimming hole, it is also an incredible place to explore. Read on for all the details to plan your visit!
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool is an incredible collapsed grotto, a natural cave near water, and canyon formed by thousands of years of water erosion. The pool’s water level is constant while the 50-foot waterfall varies in the flow. At its deepest, the pool is 25 feet deep. In the 1960s-1980s, the pool was the place to be and the area’s favorite swimming hole. Owned by Travis County since 1985, they have done a lot to preserve the area and the beauty of the pool. The hanging ferns are my favorite!
It is located in Dripping Springs, about 30 to 45 minutes from Downtown Austin.
Though the pool is open year-round, reservations are required May 1st to September 30th because so many people want to visit in the summer to swim. The reservation system is great because it means you can secure your spot instead of driving out there only to find you can’t get in.
The online reservation process is very easy. I paid $11 to reserve our car. You can reserve for eight people per reservation. When I made our reservation on May 30th, the first open weekend spot was August 20th. When we arrived, it cost $15 per person to get in.
Reservations are from 9 am to 1 pm or 2 pm to 6 pm. That means they require you to be out of the water by 12:30 pm or 5:30 pm and out of the park by 1 pm or 6 pm.
Swimming at Hamilton Pool
Swimming is sometimes allowed, and it depends on the water conditions. It will be closed if there are high bacteria levels. There is no lifeguard so swim at your own risk. There are shallower areas by the shore (me standing on my tippy toes at about 5 feet deep) but it drops off to much deeper depths quickly. (Remember, 25 feet at the deepest!) There are plenty of free life jackets available for kids and adults.
No shame, I got a life jacket so that I could swim to the other side without getting tired. I highly recommend swimming to the other side because looking straight up at the ferns and waterfall is a really cool view. The other side is also much more peaceful than the busy shore.
More Important Things to Know
- There are no flushing toilets or sinks at the park, so be sure to bring hand sanitizer or have another way of washing your hands.
- There are no water fountains, so be sure to bring plenty of drinking water.
- Not allowed at the park: glass bottles, pets, drones, public display of alcohol consumption, camping, cooking, fires, fishing.
- Getting to the pool requires a quarter mile hike, about 10 to 15 minutes, on a rocky and uneven trail. I did it in flip flops and it was fine, but I would have preferred a sturdier tennis shoe. Definitely wear comfortable shoes if you have knee or leg problems, and kids should definitely have good walking shoes.
- There are orange life preservers around the pool for rescue situations.
- Guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 10 am from October through April.
- If there are heavy rains or serious weather conditions, the park may close. Visitors should call 512-264-2740 to check the status.
Don’t forget to take a selfie.
Places to Visit in the Area
Since you’re already out in Dripping Springs, here are some restaurants and places to visit nearby.
- Apis Restaurant
- Pizzeria Sorellina
- Proof & Cooper
- Your choice of restaurants at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave
Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
Hamilton Pool Preserve
24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Open 9 am to 6 pm
Have you been to Hamilton Pool? What’s your favorite swimming hole near Austin?