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How to Visit Hamilton Pool Preserve

Hamilton pool preserve Texas is one of the most beautiful natural pools from Texas, the perfect place to cool off on a hot day of summer.

This place designated a nature preserve by the Travis County Park in 1990, is without any doubt, one of the most interesting and unique swimming experiences in the whole state.

Nestled 0.75 miles upstream from its union with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone formations to a spectacular 50-foot waterfall that careens into the crown of a precipitous box canyon.

When I first saw it, I thought I was in a tropical place because it looked so interesting. But actually, I was in the heart of Texas.

The house is in Texas hill country, near Austin. You can only swim here if you have a reservation.

This pool is natural and very old. It was created when the roof of an underground river broke because of erosion.

Erosion is when water or wind wears something down over time.

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Where is Hamilton pool preserve located?

This beautiful natural pool is located 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Austin, a short drive from Highway 71.

From SH 71/U.S. 290 junction southwest of Austin, take SH 71 about 8 1/2 miles to FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road), turn left, and travel about 13 miles to the natural pool. The entrance to the 232-acre preserve is on the right.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall
Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall

If you want to visit this place, it is easy to get here by car from anywhere in the country.

But you need to make a reservation first or else you will not be able to get in.

Driving time to Hamilton Pool

Here are the distances between the main Texan cities to Hamilton preserve Texas:

Austin to Hamilton pool- 37 miles

San Antonio to Hamilton pool- 91 miles

Houston to Hamilton pool- 190 miles

Waco to Hamilton preserve- 130 miles

How to get to Hamilton Pool Preserve

To get to this beautiful pool you need to follow this route: from SH 71/U.S.

290 junction southwest of Austin, take SH 71 about 8 1/2 miles to FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road), turn left, and travel about 13 miles to the natural pool. 

Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall
Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall

After you drive 13 miles, you will see the entrance to the preserve on the right.

There is a big enough parking lot for people to park their cars.

About Hamilton Pool

Once you get close to this swimming hole with a 50-foot waterfall you will think you are in an exotic place.

The natural pool is located in the middle of Austin, Texas.

It is a circular swimming hole that is partially shaded by a rock.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall
Hamilton pool preserve Texas inside view

This overhang rock is what it remains from the ceiling of a cave after everything collapsed many years ago.

The pool is a good size. It is 150 meters in diameter and 26 feet deep. The water in the pool is clean and monitored by experts.

The pool is located in an area that is 230 acres. During spring and winter, the water is too cold for swimming.

The temperature can drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit sometimes.

If you want to swim in the pool during the summer, you need to plan ahead.

You need to book your spot early if you want to be sure you can swim on a hot day.

The water from the pool comes from a waterfall, but it has a relatively constant level all year round because the waterfall never completely dries, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle.

Because of water temperatures, we recommend you to visit this pool during summertime with a prior reservation.

If you love waterfalls, read our in-depth article of 10 amazing waterfalls in Texas.

Wildlife at Hamilton pool

Hamilton Pool Preserve is not only a natural wonder but also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

The Golden cheeked Warbler, a striking bird species, calls this preserve home, alongside many other fascinating birds.

Additionally, the vegetation in the preserve is diverse, featuring semi-arid species in the uplands and riparian species in the canyon.

Come explore and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the flora and fauna at Hamilton Pool Preserve.

A day at Hamilton pool

When you arrive in the morning, there will be plenty of space. But make sure you arrive before the opening hour. That way you can park in the parking lot.

Otherwise, it will be hard to find a free parking space.

From the parking lot to the swimming pool, there is a short hike.

Before you start walking to the pool, make sure that you have everything that you need.

This will save you from having to turn back around and go to your car to get it.

You can wear flip-flops, but they might not be very comfortable.

We suggest taking some other shoes that are more comfortable for you to go down to the pool.

Hamilton pool reserve Texas general view
Hamilton pool preserve Texas general view

Guided hikes are also available in the area, so some comfy shoes are highly recommended.

After a short walk, a beautiful oasis appears in front of your eyes…this is Hamilton pool preserve, the perfect getaway for you and your family.

Don’t forget to bring some tubes with you. You will enjoy floating in the pool under the sun and rocks.

Facilities available at Hamilton Pool Preserve

The area is not developed and there are not many buildings or facilities.

This is because the government wants to keep the natural area as it is.

At the entrance, you will find bathrooms. The pool is a short walk away from the bathrooms.

There are also picnic tables where you can have a snack.

There aren’t any shops, restaurants, or food trucks nearby, so make sure you bring everything you need for a day at the pool.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas hiking sign
Hamilton pool preserve Texas hiking sign

Remember that you will have to walk a little ways from the parking lot to Hamilton pool preserve, so don’t bring too much stuff with you.

Down, at the poolside, there are no swing ropes to jump into the water because as I said earlier, the human intervention over the place is reduced to a minimum.

You can bring tubes with you to lay on in the water, or you can swim and stay on your blanket on the shore.

You can stay as long as you want during the interval you book.

At the picnic area near the entrance to the pool, you can have a snack from home.

I bet you will be hungry after swimming and playing in the water for a while.

Things to Know before Visiting Hamilton Pool

You should know some things before visiting Hamilton water hole Texas, which can be read in the following lines.

The first, and most important rule is that you can only go into the pool area if you have a reservation.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas hiking trail
Hamilton pool preserve Texas hiking trail

Many people consider this place to be one of the best-hidden gems of Texas, so you should book your seat well in advance to make sure you get one.

Only 8 people may come in for one reservation. You will get a parking spot for your car when you make a reservation.

You will need to make two reservations if you have two cars. Otherwise, you will not be able to find a place to park.

Hamilton Pool Reservation Times & Fees

Another important thing to know is that there are two reservations time:

  • One in the morning, between 9 in the morning, till 12.30 in the afternoon
  • One in the afternoon, between 2. 00 pm to 5. 30 pm.

You will have to pay 12 USD reservation fee when you book online. This is the tax for your vehicle, and payment has to be made with a credit or a debit card.

At the entrance of the preserve park you will have to pay for each person an entrance fee of 8 USD for an adult, 3 USD for seniors (62 years and older), and 0 USD for kids (13 years and less).

No credit or debit cards are accepted at the entrance of the park, so you’d better take some cash with you if you want to enter the preserve.

You cannot make a reservation for a stranger as at least one person named on the reservation should be present at the entrance of the preserve.

Swimming holes in Texas Hamilton Pool Hole 80
Swimming holes in Texas Hamilton Pool Hole

Photo identification is required at the entrance of the pool so you cannot bypass the system and reservations are required to enter the park.

Right from the entrance of the park starts the hiking trail that leads you to the pool, so you’d better bring your hiking shoes with you for a comfy walk.

The trail is about 0.25 miles long, quite narrow and steep so that is why we recommend you bring hiking shoes with you.

Also, be careful as sometimes there are falling rocks from the cliffs above the trail.

How to Make Reservations for Hamilton Park

Have you been longing to visit the mesmerizing Hamilton Pool? Well, the good news is that you can easily make reservations for this natural wonder on the Travis County website.

To secure your spot, visit the Travis County Parks website to make a reservation for a fee of $12.

Once you reach the park, brace yourself for an additional expense of $15 per vehicle as the entrance fee.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the payment mode is cash only, so don’t forget to carry some with you!

Swimming at Hamilton Pool Preserve

Swimming at Hamilton water hole is something indeed amazing, mostly because of the scenery which has nothing to do with the Texan landscape.

The water temperature might drop to 50 degrees Fahrenheit during spring and winter, which is a little bit cold for swimming, but during summertime, it is perfect to cool off.

You can bring tubes to float in the pool for as long as you like. There is enough shade to keep the sun away from you.

Hamilton Pool Preserve Swimming Pool Texas
Hamilton Pool Preserve Swimming Pool Texas

You can enter the park whenever you want during the reservation slots mentioned earlier in this article, but you must leave when the time ends, no matter how late you arrived at the pool.

The place becomes really crowded during summer weekends, so you’d better arrive earlier so secure a good parking place and enough time to enjoy the beautiful water from the pool.

Another thing you should know is that even if you have a reservation, swimming is not guaranteed.

There are periodical tests conducted on the water from the pool and if the bacteria level is too high, then swimming is forbidden.

What to bring to Hamilton Pool Preserve

Here is a list of the things you must bring with you for a day at Hamilton pool Texas:

  • a tube or a raft to float on
  • a waterproof blanket to sit on after you get out from the water
  • bring a lifejacket or water wings if you are not a good swimmer as there is no lifeguard on duty
  • a picnic basket with snacks, food, and nonalcoholic drinks as there is no shop in the area
  • good footwear as the trail from the parking lot to the pool is quite rocky 
Texas Hamilton Pool Preserve Swimming Hole 80
Texas Hamilton Pool Preserve Swimming Hole

What you cannot bring inside the watering hole

Now that you know what to bring with you for a day at the pool, I drop also a list of the things you are not allowed to take with you:

  • don’t bring your pets with you as pet access inside the preserve is forbidden
  • don’t bring strollers or wheelchairs the trail between the entrance and the pool is not accessible for 4 wheels, only for man feet.
  • Tobacco products
  • Alcohol as consumption of alcoholic drinks inside the protected area is forbidden

Besides the above things, inside the protected area you are not allowed to camp, cook, fly drones, use glass containers, or made a fire on the ground.

Parking 

Parking at this protected area is allowed only if you have an online reservation made in advance.

The parking place for one car cost about 12 USD per time slot and you must pay it at the moment when you book your access slot.

If you decide to cancel your reservation you will not be entitled to get this money back.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas cliff jumping
Hamilton pool preserve Texas cliff jumping

The parking lot has quite a decent size, but Hamilton pool preserve Texas is extremely popular during summertime, so you’d better come here earlier than the entry time to secure a good parking place.

From the parking lot to the water hole is quite a narrow trail of 0.25 miles long, so pack light and take comfy shoes with you.

Hotels and rentals

This part of Texas offers a long list of attractions besides the amazing Hamilton pools preserve, so that is why we recommend spending more than a day in the area.

There are the Reimers Ranch and the Pedernales Falls State Park which should be on your list.

Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall
Hamilton pool preserve Texas waterfall

As for your overnight stay, you don’t have to worry as I prepared for you a shortlist of the most beautiful hotels in the area, the ones that also have the best price-quality ratio.

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Austin Buda is a 3 star hotel located just 4 km from the Hamilton Pool featuring spacious rooms with private bathrooms, bed linen and towels and a delicious breakfast available for an extra fee
  • Best Western Plus Buda Austin Inn & Suites is another wonderful hotel conveniently located close to the Hamilton pool, featuring private bathrooms, modern rooms with air conditioning; a continental breakfast is available at the property, and it is included in the room rate
  • Witte Wonderland is a vacation apartment with an outdoor pool, a garden, and a private parking place that can accommodate up to 4 people. This one-bedroom apartment comes with a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, and a beautiful playground located a few minutes away.

Conclusion

Hamilton pool preserve Texas is without any doubt the most exotic landmark in the entire Texas state, that resembles Mexican cenotes.

This natural hole is conveniently located close to Austin, hidden in the middle of the forest, after a short hike from the parking place.

The place might become very crowded, especially during summer weekends and in order to enter the preserve, you need to have a reservation.

Bring with you water and a snack as there are no shops around the area and don’t forget the blanket to lay down on after swimming into the hole for a while.

FAQ

How much does it cost to go to Hamilton Pool?

Hamilton pool can be accessed only with reservations that can be made online.
At the moment when reserve your seat you have to pay 12 USD for vehicle parking; one parking place is allocated for each reservation. If you go there with two cars you have to make two reservations.
The entrance cost is 8 USD for people aged 13 to 62, 3 USD for 62 and older, and 0 USD for kids up to 13 years old.
The entrance cost per person must be paid in cash at the kiosk located at the entrance of the preserve.

Is Hamilton Pool still closed?

Hamilton pool is open for the public starting in May and reservations can be made on their website.
The place is extremely popular among tourists and locals so you’d better hurry up and reserve your seat.

Where is Hamilton Pool Preserve Texas?

This stunning natural pool is located about 37 miles (23 km) west of Austin, just a short drive from Highway 71.
From SH 71/U.S. 290 junction southwest of Austin, take SH 71 about 8 1/2 miles to FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road), turn left, and travel about 13 miles to the natural pool. The entrance to the 232-acre preserve is on the right.

Is Hamilton Pool worth visiting?

Without any doubt, Hamilton swimming pool is one of the most beautiful swimming holes of Texas, with an exotic touch that does not resemble anything you have seen in Texas state.
It is located close to Austin and is open all year round, but the access can be made only with a reservation.
During the summer season, it is extremely popular so hurry up and reserve your seat well in advance.

What can you do at Hamilton Pool?

The most important thing you can do when visiting Hamilton Pool is to bathe in this idyllic place.
But Hamilton pool preserve is not just about bathing; there is a short trail from the parking lot to the pool and another interesting hiking trail that goes to the Pedernales River.
On your way to the river, you can admire unique and beautiful species of plants and trees, the place being part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve with a total surface of 30.500 square miles.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.