Imagine: you’re in the middle of the desert.
Suddenly you find a crystal-clear pool full of turtles and fish. The teal color of the water is something you’ve never seen before.
You can grab a snorkel and swim where the water’s depth is 30 feet, all the while still being able to see the bottom of the oasis.
There are restored desert wetlands for you to explore where endangered fish and animals live, where you can truly connect with nature and experience a unique ecosystem.
Welcome to Balmorhea State Park!
What is Balmorhea State Park?
Balmorhea State Park is a 46-acre state park on the San Solomon Springs in Texas.
The most prized section of the park is a 3.5-million gallon freshwater pool built along the springs. It is the world’s biggest spring-fed swimming pool. Due to its constant flow of water, there is no need to chlorinate it.
The park also has a restored cienega (desert wetland).
While they are closed for renovations as of June 26, 2021, there are usually lots of campsites and cabins for people to stay in.
In 1934, the Texas State Parks Board bought San Solomon Springs. As part of the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the spring water pool in 1936-1941.
In 1995, the Balmorhea State Park Cienega Project was started. Its purpose was to recreate the desert wetland that was originally lost when the spring water was channeled into the pool.
Now the cienega is a home for endangered fish, birds, and animals.
Over 200,000 people visit the park each year!
Where is Balmorhea State Park located in Texas?
Balmorhea State Park is in Reeves County in Southwest Texas, in the foothills of the Davis Mountains.
9207 TX-17, Toyahvale, TX 79786
(Related: Barton Springs Pool In Austin)
Is Balmorhea State Park open? Is it open year-round?
The park is open all year, with a capacity of 650 people each day.
As of June 26, 2021, the swimming pool and day-use areas of the park are open, while the rest of the park is closed for renovations.
What time does Balmorhea State Park close?
The pool closes at 7:30 pm or at sunset, whichever comes first.
Do you need reservations?
You don’t need reservations but you can buy day passes online to guarantee entry.
The park often reaches capacity on weekends and holidays, so it is wise to save your spot ahead of time.
Is there an entry fee for Balmorhea State Park?
There is a day use fee of $7 per person over the age of 13.
You can also buy a Texas State Parks Pass to enter the park. This pass lasts for a year and has perks such as:
Unlimited entry to 89 state parks for you and your guests
Discounts on camping (restrictions apply), equipment rentals, and park store purchases
Other special offers
A pass costs $70 and is issued to the card holder. You can buy a second pass for someone who lives at your same address for $25.
Can you swim in Balmorhea State Park?
You can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in the pool at Balmorhea State Park, but you can’t swim in the canals.
The water temperature ranges from 72 to 76 degrees F depending on the time of year.
How deep is Balmorhea State Park?
The pool’s maximum depth is 30 feet. The bottom of the pool is flat where it’s more shallow and is natural rock in the deeper areas.
Is Balmorhea State Park kid-friendly?
The park is very kid-friendly, with some swimming safety precautions.
At the pool, children the age of 14 or younger need to be supervised by a responsible adult over the age of 17 at all times.
Otherwise, the park has a plethora of activities for kids such as camping (when open), birdwatching, geocaching, hiking, and more.
Are there lifeguards on duty?
There are no lifeguards on duty. You can swim at your own risk after you sign a liability release.
Can you bring dogs?
Dogs are allowed at the park, with some restrictions.
Your dog needs to be on a leash no longer than 6 feet and has to be well-behaved. Disruptive dogs will be asked to leave.
Dogs aren’t allowed in the pool area. They also can’t swim in any water in the park in order to preserve the habitats.
People frequently tie their dogs up or leave them in the car while they go swimming in the pool, but that’s unacceptable behavior that won’t be tolerated by park staff.
Can you bring alcohol?
Drinking or displaying alcohol in the pool or day-use areas of the park is not allowed.
This means that alcohol is not currently allowed because those are the only open areas of the park.
Are there fish in Balmorhea State Park? What kind? Can you fish there?
There are fish in the pool that you can see while snorkeling or scuba diving. Endangered fish including the Pecos gambusia and Comanche Springs pupfish live in the restored cienega.
No fishing is allowed.
Balmorhea State Park and scuba diving
Scuba instructors need to show proof of insurance before diving.
Divers need to show proof of certification along with signing a Diving Agreement. All divers need to go with a partner and must pay a $5 activity fee.
Can you camp at Balmorhea State Park?
No tents are allowed in the pool area, however the park has three kinds of campsites that you can usually reserve:
Campsites with electricity and cable TV
Campsites with electricity
As of June 26, 2021, the campsites are closed for renovations.
Tips for visiting Balmorhea State Park
If possible, visit Balmorhea State Park during the offseason when it’s not too busy.
Try geocaching as a fun way to explore the park and find treasures!
Learn about the nature at the park to fully enjoy your visit.
Go to the cienegas to see endangered fish and wildlife.
Donate to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation to show your appreciation for the preservation of Balmorhea State Park.
What to bring to Balmorhea State Park
Here are some must-haves when visiting Balmorhea State Park:
A bathing suit
Money for the entry fee if you don’t have a reservation
A scuba diving certificate
A shade canopy
Floats (soft-sided, inflatable, no larger than 8 feet by 4 feet)
Binoculars for birdwatching
Family and friends
When is the best time to visit Balmorhea State Park?
The weekends and holidays are very busy. The summer is also busy, as families plan vacations to the state park while their kids are off from school.
The water is 72 degrees F at its coldest, so it doesn’t get too chilly to swim no matter what season you visit.
Try to come on a weekday when it’s not the summer. The park will be mostly locals at that time.
If you didn’t buy a reservation in advance, be sure to show up early. The park opens at 8am.
Where do you park at Balmorhea State Park?
You will be asked to park in the pool parking area until it fills up.
After that, you’ll be directed to park on the next-door county road and enter the park via the side gate.
Don’t park your car on the highway or DPS will write you a ticket.