Who doesn't love a good lake or river day in Texas? I don't know about your pups, but my boxer wants to swim all day, every day.
We heard his (and the other active pups) outcry and put together a list of safe, pet-friendly swimming holes in the Austin and surrounding areas.
Important Notes: Please follow local and city guidelines regarding safety and closures.
The City of Austin confirmed a harmful "blue, green" algal bloom on Lady Bird Lake beginning in July 2019. The algae emits a toxin that has been deadly to dogs and is caused by a rise in water temperature from the spring/summer heat. The City has since found low levels of toxins present as of July 2022. Testing will resume the summer of 2023.
As of May 9th, 2023 – Risk is HIGH for pets. Algae is in full bloom on Lady Bird Lake. Though not all of it is harmful algae, blue-green algae has been found in Cold Spring on Lady Bird Lake. Because they mix together, please assume all algae may be toxic and avoid it. We recommend you do not allow dogs to ingest algae or swim in Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin - this includes Emma Long, Festival Beach, Red Bud Isle, and Auditorium Shores.
Safe Swimming Spots for Your Pets
Location: 4440 Old Stagecoach Rd, San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Sunrise to 8 PM, daily
Amenities: Five Mile Dam is 42 acres of green space and river bed. It's a San Marcos destination for river swimming, boating, walking trails, and even soccer. The large flat rocks and small waterfalls along the river bed make it easy for dogs to run and jump safety in water while playing fetch. No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk.
Location: 555 Cheatham St. San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Open all day
Amenities: Rio Vista Park is a great place to put your kayak in and paddle upstream or just swim in the deep watering hole. Looking for your next fetch spot? You got it! The flat rocks along the river bed make it easy for dogs to run and jump safety into the water. No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk.
Pro Tip: Weekends get packed - arrived before noon to get the best spot.
Location: 13731 Carpenter Lane, Manchaca, TX, 78652
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:30 AM - 10 AM & 3 PM- 7:30 PM; Saturday-Sunday: 9 AM - 6 PM
Amenities: Jumping Jack Dog Ranch has a large fenced-in yard with a dog-themed pool. The circular pool features a beach-front entry for dogs that like to romp and splash through the shallow end, as well as a deeper end for the pups who enjoy swimming and jumping in! It also has a fire hydrant water fountain in the middle of a bone-shaped island! How cute is that?!
Bonus: Rent the private dog park complete with a swimming pool for your pups for $50/hr. You can bring a few of your dog's friends, or just have your pup, it's totally up to you. There is no lifeguard on duty, so you are responsible for your dog's safety. Note that kiddos under 12 aren't allowed at the pool, but you can bring food or soft drinks (just no glass).
Location: Veterans Memorial Park, 2525 West New Hope Drive, Cedar Park, Texas 78613
Hours: Sunrise to 10 PM. Note that the Bark Park is closed every Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for cleaning and maintenance.
Location: 3006 FM621, San Marcos, TX 78666
Hours: Office is open Monday - Friday 7:00-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m.; Saturdays from 7:00-11:00 a.m. Their pool is open 7 days per week by appointment.
Amenities: K9 Water World was developed for dogs and their human companions. They offer a 48' x 21' swimming pool for exercise, therapy, and dock diving. You can even swim with your dog(s) if you like (and many people do).
Location: 1808 Carter Road, Dale, Texas 78616
Hours: Office is open 9:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. Their pool is open 7 days per week by appointment.
Amenities: Looking for low impact exercise for young pups or a therapeutic activity for senior dogs? Tailwind Dock Diving offers a large swimming pool for exercise, therapy, and dock diving! You can book the dock for private parties or lessons. Call ahead to make a reservation for your pup!
Location: 2585 Park Road 6026 Johnson City, TX 78636
Hours: 8 AM to 10 PM, daily
Amenities: At Pedernales Falls State Park, you can camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, geocache, bird watch and ride horses. On the river, you can swim, wade, tube or fish. Look for local wildlife and plants at the bird blind and butterfly garden. Access to the swimming area is a strenuous 1/4-mile (or more) hike, and includes steep rock stairs with no handrail.
Location: 3630 Park Rd 4 W, Burnet, TX 78611
Hours: 8 AM to 10 PM, daily
Amenities: With over 200 campsites, 9 miles of hiking trails through shady forests and across rocky hills, and beautiful swimming holes - this is a adventure destination that you and your pup can enjoy. Swimming in the no-wake zones is a must, but reminder there are no lifeguards on duty.
Due to reports of sickness and low levels of toxins present in November of 2021, Barton Creek Spillway/Barkin' Creek & Twin Falls/Sculpture Falls did not make our list. If visiting these areas, stick to areas with fast moving water, where algae cannot bloom and be steer clear of visible, floating algae.
The following locations were considered but, because of their continued toxicity throughout the years, we can no longer recommend they are safe for pets at this time: Emma Long Park, Mansfield Dam Park, Jessica Hollis Park.
Before heading out for a swim:
- Bring ample amounts of drinkable water for you and your pet(s)
- Avoid warm, stagnant water in swimming areas
- Rinse off well after swimming
Unsure about your pet's safety at the mentioned swimming spots? A kiddie pool is another great option for your dogs to cool down while playing outside.
Know of any swimming holes that are safe and pet-friendly? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.