Water was gushing over the spillway this morning at Blanco State Park, which ranks highly on my list of best swimming holes in Texas.
Today’s dip at the park reminded me why I love to come here: Shaded picnic tables, a mile of riverfront, cool green water that’s deep enough for actual swimming, and a wide expanse of slow-moving river. It’s great for kayaking and standup paddle boarding, too.
The 104-acre park opened in 1934, and features a pavilion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It’s popular with folks who like to fish, and Texas Parks and Wildlife stocks it each winter with trout. You don’t even need a license to fish from shore in the park, and the park has a selection of rods and reels you can borrow.
But it’s the swimming that lures me in. My advice? Don’t follow the road across the river to the main camping, picnicking, and swimming area. That’s great for families and the little dammed in pool appeals to kids, but I want to get in a workout. If that’s what you like too, take the left turn before you cross the river and follow the road downstream. You can park, then walk down to the riverfront and take a great flying leap into the water.
Let the dragonflies land on your nose and swim laps up and down the river between the highway bridge and the spillway dam. Then go sit at the bottom of the spillway and let the water splash over you. (Just be aware the spot is also popular with tiny black squirmy worm-like things the size of a grain of rice. I’m told their black fly larvae. Don’t worry – they won’t bother you.)
Admission is $5 daily; free ages 12 and under. I’ve got a Texas State Parks pass, so I don’t have to pay the entry fee. The park, 101 Park Road 23 in Blanco, sometimes fills up on nice weekends. To make sure you get in, book a reservation online ahead of time at https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/blanco.
Pro tip? When you’re done swimming, head to Oro Bianco Italian Creamery, 503 Main Street, for a cup of gelato made in small batches using milk from a Texas herd of grass-fed water buffalo (which has more butterfat than cows’ milk) and eggs laid by ducks at a Fredericksburg farm. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (I like the peach.) For more information go to https://www.orobiancomilk.com.