Texans Swear By These 5 Amazing San Marcos Swimming Holes

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: July 13, 2023
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San Marcos is a Central Texas city with a population of around 67,000. The total surface area for this city is 35.71 square miles and only 0.12 square miles of land is water. This small amount of space though hosts some of the most beautiful, refreshing, and clear swimming spots in the state. What better way to beat the heat than to swim in a San Marcos swimming hole? Follow along to discover 5 amazing San Marcos swimming holes.

Five Mile Dam Park

The first San Marcos swimming hole on our list is Five Mile Dam Park in Hays County, Texas. This lovely San Marcos park offers many opportunities for outdoor activities including hiking, biking, swimming, and sailing. The park is open every day excluding important holidays including Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. This beautiful swimming hole is enchanting. The crystal clear water is inviting and perfect for scorching hot summer days. Along the swimming hole is a sandy coast where you can set up your chairs and umbrella.

The main pull of this place is the small waterfall near the dam. It’s important to note though that there are no lifeguards on duty in Five Mile Dam Park. You can also enjoy the swimming hole’s pristine water by kayaking or canoeing. When taking a break from the water, you can also walk the easy Five Mile Dam Park Loop. It stretches for 2.3 miles and takes about 40 minutes to complete.

Short Waterfall at Five Mile Dam Park in San Marcos, TX

Five Mile Dam Park is a popular swimming hole in San Marcos.


Rio Vista Park

Another refreshing San Marcos swimming hole is Rio Vista Park. This 14-acre regional park has a lovely deep watering hole. This park is on the San Marcos River. It’s a popular tubing, kayaking, swimming, and paddle-boarding destination in Central Texas. The swimming hole has mini waterfalls and a small waterfall you can slide down. However, it’s best for small children.

When you’re not taking a dip in the refreshing and cold water at Rio Vista Park, you can hike or bike the nature trails. This lovely park is very popular with locals in the area and is known to fill up quickly in the summer and on the weekends. Plan to get the best parking spot.

Rio Vista Park on a beautiful Autumn day.

Rio Vista Park has a mini waterfall visitors can slide down.

©Dana Rasmussen/Shutterstock.com

Stokes Park

Next on our list of San Marcos swimming holes is another popular park, Stokes Park. This beautiful green space is surrounded by the clear and beautiful San Marcos River. Another name for this park is John Stokes Park. This gorgeous park offers swimming, hiking, biking, and tubing opportunities. This swimming spot is not as popular as others on this list of San Marcos swimming holes, including Rio Vista Park.

Visiting this lovely, but almost secluded spot, is almost like going back in time. John Stokes Park’s swimming hole has a rushing waterfall, rock walls, and luscious green plants. While taking a walk near the swimming hole, you may spot wildlife like pond sliders, green anoles, plain-bellied water snakes, common snapping turtles, ringtails, and white-tailed deer.

Sewell Park

You may have noticed that many of the swimming spots on this list of San Marcos swimming holes are in parks. This next one isn’t an exception. Sewell Park is on the Texas State University Campus. Like other swimming holes in San Marcos, it’s on the San Marcos River. This lovely swimming spot is comfortable and perfect for taking a dip. You can swim in the swimming hole’s 72°F water. If you don’t want to swim, you can still cool off by tubing slowly in the river. 

Visiting Sewell Park isn’t difficult. You are also allowed to enjoy other activities near the swimming hole like the outdoor basketball court, sand volleyball courts, frisbee open spaces, and picnic areas. Can you imagine going to university here and taking a swim after a tough exam? Interestingly, Sewell Park has a long history. Dr. S.M. Sewell thought of the idea of a refreshing park in the university in 1916.

dock at sewell park in san marcos texas

Sewell Park is a beautiful park on the Texas State University Campus.

©Nicholas Zehnder/Shutterstock.com

Jacob’s Well Natural Area

Last but not least is Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which is about a little over 81 acres. Technically, this swimming hole isn’t in San Marcos, but just a few miles away in Wimberley, Texas. Still, it gets an honorable mention as Jacob’s Well Natural Area is frequented by San Marcos locals. Jacob’s Well Natural Area is a beautiful swimming spot typically open from May 1 to September 30. To enjoy this unique turquoise swimming hole, a reservation is needed. However, it’s not always open to the public, especially in times of drought. 

Swimming though isn’t the only activity at Jacob’s Well Natural Area. You can also hike, view wildlife, photograph, birdwatch, and more.

Summary of the 5 Amazing San Marcos Swimming Holes

Here are the 5 Amazing San Marcos Swimming Holes:

RankSwimming Holes
1Five Mile Dam Park
2Rio Vista Park
3Stokes Park
4Sewell Park
5Jacob’s Well Natural Area

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Philip Arno Photography/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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