Summers in south Texas have two temperatures, hot and ‘where’s the nearest walk-in freezer’ hot. An hour southwest of Austin is a swimming hole that’s been calling the overheated to its cold waters for hundreds of years.

Jacob’s Well, located in the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, is a naturally-formed swimming hole in Hays County. Scientifically speaking, it’s a karstic spring, which is often a bowl or cone-shaped spring, usually at the end of a cave system, that has large discharge. Jacob’s Well, fed by the Trinity Aquifer, at the time of writing in June, was flowing into Cypress Creek at the rate of 16 gallons a second. In 1924, before modern development (and the subsequent tapping of the Trinity Aquifer) the spring had a measured flow of 170 gallons a second.

The spring itself has an average depth of 120 feet and is, in fact, the entrance of a cave system — the second largest fully-submerged cave in Texas. To date, the Jacob’s Well Exploration Project has mapped about 6,000 feet of passages — impressive, right? While the depth of this spring dazzles the mind, it’s not the primary reason people come to these waters.

At a near constant 68 degrees F year-round, they come to cool down and have some fun. While many slip in gradually, the most adventurous (or crazy?) of visitors huck flips into this 12-foot diameter cone of refreshment.

How to get there

The Jacob’s Well Natural Area is about 10 minutes from Wimberley and Dripping Springs. Pull it up on your map here.

What to consider

  • Reservations are required to swim at Jacob’s Well. It’s recommended to make your reservations a couple of weeks in advance, especially during the busy summer months.
  • Swimming is open until September 30th.
  • Entrance fees range from $5 to $9 per person and get you a 2-hour swim window.
  • Jacob’s well is part of the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which is free to enter. The fee only applies to swimming.
  • The area is for day-use only and is open from 8 AM to 6 PM. There is no camping allowed.
  • Bring plenty of water — there are no drinking fountains in the area.
  • The walk to Jacob’s Well includes stairs and is not stroller or wheelchair-friendly.
  • It’s a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to Jacob’s Well.
  • As with all natural places, leave no trace.