Waterfall in Hamilton Pool Preserve grotto.

© Kinlee Lynn Hawkins/Shutterstock

Hamilton Pool Preserve

Hill Country

How gorgeous is the pool beneath Hamilton Creek, which spills over limestone outcroppings just upstream from the Pedernales River? Let's just say reservations are needed to visit this lush box canyon and waterfall-fed swimming hole from late spring through early fall. The special spot sits within a 30,428-acre preserve, which is also home to the endangered gold-cheeked warbler, a striking yellow-crowned bird.

The preserve can also fill up on winter weekends, before the spring and summer busy season, so get there early if the weather is looking nice.

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