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General Information


24300 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Dripping Spgs, TX
Map & Directions

Hours of Operation

Reservations required May 1 – September 30. 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily, weather permitting. Recreational activities, such as swimming, end 30 minutes prior to end of reservation period. Call (512) 264-2740 for daily updates.

General Information

Acreage: 232

Park Fees
(reservation fee required in addition to park entrance fee)

Nearby Parks

Travis County Parks

Hamilton Pool Preserve

News & Alerts

For updated information about Hamilton Pool Preserve please call our public information line at 512-264-2740.  The message is updated daily at 8:30 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.  Remember the preserve sometimes closes to all visitors due to recent rains and hazardous trail conditions.

Summer Reservations - Reservations are required to enter Hamilton Pool from May 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017.  You can make your reservation now. 

Please make your reservation before driving to the preserve.

Beginning October 1, Hamilton Pool Preserve will not be operating a reservation system.  Reservations will not be required to visit the preserve, and no reservations can be made for those dates.  Beginning October 1, be prepared to wait up to 45 minutes to enter.  You may even be turned away due to overcrowding, especially on weekends.  If you plan to visit after October 1, have alternative plans available in case you are turned away due to overcrowding.

We will implement the reservation system again next year.  Check this web site periodically this fall for updates as to when we'll begin accepting reservations for next year.

PLEASE NOTE: All reservations are final.  They cannot be refunded or rescheduled.  Swimming is not guaranteed with your reservation.

For more information about the reservation system and the preserve in general click on the link to our "Frequently Asked Questions".

Please Click Here to Make a Summer Reservation

SWIMMING STATUS:  Hamilton Pool Preserve is currently allowing swimming.  Remember there is no lifeguard on duty.  Swim at your own risk.

NOTE:  Swimming status is determined by bacteria levels and recent rainfall.  We allow swimming all year long on days  when the bacteria levels and recent rainfall are acceptable.  Be aware that the water temperature can drop to near 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.  That's very cold water for swimming!


Frequently Asked Questions

What To Know Before You Come

  1. Calling the Public Information Line will let you know the current status of the preserve, whether we're allowing swimming and hiking.  Remember the preserve somtimes closes due to recent rain and hazardous trail conditions.  The phone number is 512-264-2740.  It is updated daily at 8:30 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.
  2. Reservations are required to visit on dates starting May 1 and ending September 30. You make reservations online by clicking on the link shown above on this web site. You will pay for reservations with a credit card, and pay an additional entrance fee in cash when you arrive at Hamilton Pool Preserve. If you are located outside the United States, Canada or Mexico then you may encounter Network Errors while attempting to access our Reservation website. If this is the case, you may call 1-800-926-3466 for technical assistance.
  3. Entrance Fees paid when you arrive at the preserve are $15 per vehicle, or $5 per vehicle if vehicle has a senior citizen (62 years) or a disabled vet (60%).
  4. We accept cash and most checks at the preserve.  We DO NOT accept credit and debit cards at the preserve.
  5. Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.
  6. No Lifeguard is on duty.  Swim at your own risk, when swimming is allowed.
  7. Reservation periods run from 9 am - 1 pm and 2 pm - 6 pm.  Recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm.  No entry is allowed after 12:30 pm or 5:30 pm.  All visitors must exit the preserve by 1:00 pm or 6:00 pm. 
  8. Bring drinking water.  Drinking water and concessions are not available.
  9. The hike to the pool is a quarter of a mile long.  The trail is beautiful, but it is also steep and rocky, with uneven steps.
  10. Glass bottles and the public display of alcohol consumption are prohibited.




Hamilton Pool Preserve was designated a nature preserve by the Travis County Commissioner's Court in 1990. Located 3/4 mile upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall as it plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle. However, the pool's water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought.

The preserve is home to the Golden-Cheeked Warbler, and a great variety of other birds. The diverse vegetation of Hamilton Pool ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. The uplands of the preserve are a juniper and oak savannah with a variety of native grasses and wildflowers. Several rare plant species including canyon mock-orange, red bay (western-most colony of this eastern species), and chatter box orchid are known to occur in the canyon areas along Hamilton Creek.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP). The BCP is a 30,428-acre system of endangered species habitat owned by Travis County, the City of Austin, The Nature Conservancy, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Travis Audubon Society, as well as privately owned lands. The BCP represents a regional effort to balance protection of endangered species habitat with economic development. For more information about BCP, call the Travis County BCP coordinator at (512) 854-9383


  • picnic tables
  • hiking trails
  • restrooms

A Brief History

A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Lush plant communities, a variety of wildlife species and natural shelter attracted the area's first inhabitants. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.

Prior to the 1800s, Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area. In the mid 1860s, Morgan C. Hamilton owned the property now known as Hamilton Pool Preserve. His brother, Andrew Jake Hamilton (the 10th governor of Texas), evidently visited this beautiful grotto while he was governor. In the 1880s, the Reimers, an immigrant family from Germany, bought the property to raise sheep and cattle. Legend has it that their eight-year-old son discovered the collapsed grotto.

Although ranchers might have considered the grotto a safety hazard for their livestock, the Reimers soon realized its value as a recreational area and opened the property for public use. Around the turn of the century, only a handful of people had the transportation to come out and enjoy the cool, serene surroundings. By the 1960s, and on into the 1980s, Hamilton Pool's popularity had soared, as visitors packed the legendary swimming hole. The land suffered from sheer numbers and few restrictions.

In addition to impact from the visiting public, cattle, sheep and goats grazed the delicate ecosystem for several decades, resulting in changes to the native vegetation. In 1980, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department cited Hamilton Pool as the most significant natural area in rural Travis County. In 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore Hamilton Pool. Now, as Hamilton Pool Preserve, the lush fern-canopied cliffs are making a comeback, as are the rolling hills and meadows of the uplands.

Ongoing land management practices at Hamilton Pool Preserve include prescribed burns, prairie restoration, endangered species surveys, biological inventories and water quality monitoring.

Special Notes and Rules

Swim at your own risk (when swimming is allowed). There are no lifeguards on duty.   Swimming is sometimes prohibited due to high bacteria levels.  For updated swimming conditions please call (512) 264-2740 before you come.

During months without the reservation system, the number of people trying to visit Hamilton Pool greatly exceeds the number of people the canyon can accommodate.  We impose a limit on the number of people who can be in the preserve at any one time.  A waiting line forms.  The waiting time usually is one hour.  When the waiting line reaches the maximum length allowable we turn all newly arriving visitors away and do not allow them to wait in line, or anywhere on preserve grounds.  More visitors are permitted to join the waiting line at a later time when conditions allow.  This practice is necessary to maintain proper traffic flow on Hamilton Pool Road and to avoid unsafe situations.

The preserve is occasionally closed due to flooding or hazardous trail conditions.  Call the public information line at 512-264-2740 for updated information.  This recorded message is updated daily at 9 am, or during the day if rain changes our status.

Day use only preserve: Recreational activities, such as swimming, end at 5:30 pm.  No entry is allowed after 5:30 pm.  The gate is locked at 6:00 pm and all visitors must be out before that time.  Camping is not allowed.

Drinking water and other concessions are not available. 

Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.vailable.

The pool trail is 1/4 mile in length and includes a series of rock steps descending into the canyon.  The trail is rugged and steep.  Sturdy footgear is recommended. Visitors with physical disabilities can arrange assistance into the canyon by requesting a ride by preserve staff.  The ride takes a visitor into the canyon, but not all the way to the pool, since no vehicle can make it to the pool.

Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.

Cooking, fires, fishing, overnight camping, mountain biking, and firearms are all prohibited.

Glass containers and fireworks are prohibited in all Travis County parks.

Public display of consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

Swimming is periodically prohibited due to high bacteria levels in the pool, and a heavy rain will typically close the pool to swimming for a week or so. Nesting cliff swallows contribute to high bacteria levels in the early summer.

DRONES AND AERIAL CRAFT:  The use of drones and other aerial craft are not permitted in Hamilton Pool Preserve.  This policy is necessary to preserve the safety of the visitors and the ability of visitors to enjoy the natural setting.  Hamilton Pool is also a nature preserve with a mission to provide habitat for wildlife.  Drones may be flown in nearby Reimers Ranch Park, as long as they are not flown over areas crowded with people.

GUIDED TOURS:  October through April.  Saturdays at 10 am, weather permitting.  Forty-five minutes in duration.

Limited to the first 20 participants. Included in the regular entrance fee.  Preserve staff will talk about the natural history of Hamilton Pool.  Hike will be about a mile long.  The trail will be steep and rugged.  Sturdy shoes are recommended. 

Other guided tours for groups are available by appointment October through April. Call (512) 264-2740 for more information.