Travel Guide to Cliff Diving in Texas (12 Top Spots)

Red, rocky cliffs overtowering a calm lake in Texas

Texas is spoiled with plenty of recreational areas and parks that feature pristine waterholes, waterfalls, and tranquil creeks. Many of these are surrounded by cliffs and ledges that you can jump off of. Especially if you’re from Austin, you have many options to get your daily adrenaline fix in less than an hour from the city center. Let’s check out the 12 most fun cliff diving spots in Texas!

Warning: Jump at your own risk and always conduct a depth check beforehand. Rules change, so ask the authorities or park rangers if jumping is permitted at the respective location.

12 best cliff jumps in Texas at a glance

LocationJump heightCostsDriving time:
Hell’s Gate at  Possum Kingdom Lake6 to 91 ft$8.00 / car1:30 h from Fort Worth
Jacob’s Well3 to 9 ft$9 / person0:45 h from Austin
Pace Bend Park 40 to 50 ft$10 / person0:45 h from Austin
Upper McKinney Falls9 to 18 ft$6  / person0:15 h from Austin
Devil’s Waterhole10, 20 and 30 ft$5  / person1:10 from Austin
Pedernales Falls State Park 3 to 16 ft$6 / person0:50 h from Austin
Walling Bend5 to 30 ft free0:45 h from Waco
Soldiers Bluff7 to 20 ftfree0:30h form Waco
Krause Springs8 ft$9 / person0:45h from Austin
Tonkawa Falls5 to 12 ftfree0:25h from Waco
Blue Hole3 to 15 ft$12 for swimmers,free for hikers0:45 h from Austin
Starnes Island5 to 8 ftfree0:50h from Austin

This map shows all 12 locations. As you can see, the best cliff jumps are almost exclusively located on the Stretch between Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

1. Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake

Possum Kingdom Lake is the most popular cliff jumping spot in all of Texas. It simply leaves no room for open wishes! Beginners and pro divers will have plenty of fun jumping from cliffs ranging from 6 feet all the way to 91 feet. Surprisingly, though, the lake and its cliff jumping spots are never too crowded.

The most renowned cliff-jumping spot by the lake is called Hell’s Gate. A “gate” formed by two fierce cliffs, that is home to the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship. The platforms are positioned at heights of 85 and 91 feet and should be left to the professionals!

A hotspot in the competitive scene

It comes as no surprise that Possum Kingdom Lake and its Devil’s Island frequently host professional cliff diving tournaments, such as the Red Bull Cliff Diving championship.

Professional cliff jumpers leaping off the infamous Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake.

Disclaimer: If you are anything but a pro, please don’t even attempt these types of jumps. Divers can reach more than 50 miles per hour – a dangerous situation if you land wrongly! Also, beware that jumping from cliffs higher than 20 feet is prohibited here.

2. Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring near Austin with a notorious underwater cave at the bottom. The cave descends vertically for around 20 feet and then continues diagonally for a total of 140 feet. Unsurprisingly, Jacob’s Well is more popular with divers than with cliff jumpers. It is described as one of the riskiest dives in the world. Several scuba divers have lost their lives in this narrow underwater cave.

While diving here is dangerous and requires plenty of preparation, jumping off the rocks into the 12 feet wide hole does not and is a rather casual thrill! But you need to aim decently and push off hard in order to get over the ledge. The highest jump is from around 9 feet and can hardly be called a cliff jump. But it is definitely the most picturesque jump, so we still included it in this list. You will need to drive around 45 minutes from Austin.

Useful tips for exploring Jacob’s Well:

  • If you are only visiting and won’t dive deeper than 20 feet, you don’t need to obtain a diving permit.
  • But you still need a reservation if you’re visiting in the summer.
  • The best time to visit is at noon when the sun shines vertically into the well. Illuminating the colorful algae-covered walls.
  • Bring anti-slip water shoes if you want to walk along the creek. The floor is slippery due to the algae.
  • Costs: $9 per person
  • Open: Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm

3. Pace Bend Park

Pace Bend Park is home to the Paleface cliff jump. And indeed, the 40- to 50-foot cliff jumps have turned many faces pale. Many locals enjoy their summer weekends camping, hiking, and diving off paleface. It is truly one of Austin’s best-kept secrets, and you should stay here for several hours to wander around and take in the pristine beauty. Bring your dog along!

As the water level of the lake can change rapidly, the jumping height of pale faces varies slightly. Also, beware that there is no ladder in the water and climbing up the rocks is physically challenging. Alternatively, you can swim north around the cliff and exit from the lake’s beach. The lake floor is completely covered with zebra mussels, so definitely wear swim shoes or at least an old pair of thick skiing socks. 

The entrance costs $10 per person. The Paleface jump is located on the East side of Pace Bend Park, nestled right between Giles and Baldwin Cove. Just like Jacob’s Well you can get to this jump within 45 minutes from downtown Austin

4. The Upper McKinney Falls 

McKinney Falls State Park is an incredibly popular camping site, as you will have a plethora of outdoor activities right at your doorstep. The park has two major waterfalls. The Upper and Lower McKinney Falls. Nowadays, the Lower Falls are almost always dried up. We arrived there after some heavy rains, and the water level was barely enough to jump in from the rocks. 

All the action is at the upper falls. The jumps there vary between 9 and 18 feet. The water is lukewarm and clean; just beware of litter on the hiking trail. Never go barefoot!

Also, the park has limited capacity and can often get full in the summer months. So we suggest arriving here early, before 10am. Entrance costs $6 per person, and you can enter from 10 am to 8 pm. It’s only a 15-minute drive from downtown Austin!

5. Devil’s Waterhole

After hiking around Inks Lake State Park, taking a rest at the Devil’s Waterhole is refreshing and thrilling at the same time. There are three main cliff jumps here with a great variety in heights: 10 feet, 20 feet, and 30 feet. The 10 foot-jump is ideal for kids, while the 30-foot jump is guaranteed to give anyone a decent adrenaline kick. Fortunately, the water level at the lake is pretty constant and remains almost the same all year round.  Nevertheless, your feet might reach the bottom occasionally, so always check the depth before jumping!

When we were there, the Waterhole was crowded with kayaks, so we always had to double-check to make sure we didn’t jump on them. Very annoying!

You can reach the Devil’s Waterhole from Austin within 1:10. Entrance is only $5 per person. The water is refreshingly cold.

6. Pedernales Falls State Park 

Pedernales Falls State Park features the Pedernales river and a small lake that you can jump into.  The water varies in depth, so definitely stay safe while jumping from the rocks and river banks. Also, the currents in the river can get strong at times, so only seasoned swimmers should jump there. The jumps here are truly off the beaten path. You will need to hike along the Wolf Mountain Trail for quite some time to reach the lagoons. The highest jump we did was off a tree that overlooked the lagoon – around 16 feet high.  

This spot gets bonus points for all the wildlife. Deer, birds, fish, raccoons, armadillos, foxes… you name it, Pedernales Falls has it! If you visit from Austin, it will take around 50 minutes and set you back $6 per person.

7. Walling Bend

The Walling Bend is located by Lake Whitney and the Brazos River. Once you drive to the location on our map, there will be a ledge on your right. This leap is around 5 ft to 30 ft high. This huge variation in height is due to the inconsistent water levels of Lake Whitney. Especially considering the increased frequency of droughts in Central Texas, we highly recommend conducting a thorough depth check before jumping. After jumping off, you can swim to the left and hike back on top of the ledge or climb up the rope ladder to the right. The rope ladder was too tricky for us clumsy tourists!

You can drive from the Walling Bend cliff jump from Waco within 45 minutes or downtown Dallas within 1.5 hours.

8. Soldiers Bluff

Soldiers Bluff is another fantastic cliff jump by Lake Whitney. You will need to hike around half a mile to reach it, but it is worth the trouble. Right next to the jump, there are also jet ski rentals, so definitely make sure you don’t land on one. The jump height varies from around 7 feet to 20 feet, depending on the water level.

Entrance is free. It is only a 10-minute drive from the aforementioned Walling Bend. From Dallas it’s around a 1:20 h drive. From Waco, it’s only half an hour.

9. Krause Springs

The Krause Springs are intimate swimming holes that are surrounded by crystal clear waterfalls and lush-green forests. There is also a stunning botanical garden at the entrance that is home to an impressive variety of butterflies. The jumps themselves are nothing out of the ordinary and only around 8 feet high. There is also a fun rope jump. So come here for the jump, but stay for the tranquil atmosphere! 

Krause Springs is only a 45-minute drive from Austin. Unfortunately, the entrance carries a hefty price tag of $9 per person. So the jump itself is not worth the travel time and costs.

10. Tonkawa Falls

The 5 ft and 12 ft cliff jumps at Tonkawa Falls are nothing out of the ordinary, but a decent option if you’re in Waco and looking to cool off during a hot afternoon. There are some hazards, though: Broken beer bottles are scattered across the ledges, and during low water levels, you run the risk of hitting the bottom of the creek. Always do a depth check first. 

This place is mostly enjoyed by locals as it’s free to enter and easy to reach.  You can get there in less than half an hour from downtown Waco.

11. Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is located in a lush green forest with fun jumps and well-marked hiking trails that also allow dogs. There are some crooked trees and rope swings that allow you to jump into Cypress Creek from varying heights. There are no cliffs here, but we still decided to include it at the bottom of our list because it is such a family-friendly location and only 10 minutes away from Jacob’s Well (# 2 on this list).

The 2 rope swings here are very large and well-maintained. Beware that it is a 10-minute walk from the parking lot and that you may need a reservation during the summer months. Also, watch out for raspberry ants. They don’t bite, but will try to devour your sandwich while you’re busy swinging into the cold water.

Swimming and jumping into the Blue Hole costs $12 per person, but hiking there is completely free. It’s a 45-minute drive from Austin.

If you’re in the area, checking out the Natural Bridge Cavern is obligatory! Which is the largest one in Texas! No, there are no cliff jumps inside the caverns, but you will get your adrenaline fix regardless. We booked this guided tour and felt it was worth it, considering the things we learned from our guide and the fact, that the entrance fee was already included.

12. Starnes Island – Lake Travis (Austin)

Starnes Island is a party island located in the middle of Lake Travis. It is also called rattlesnake island, even though we didn’t encounter any snakes there. During the summer months, this small island is surrounded by anchored boats occupied by day-drinking party folks. Many people. The jumps here range only from 5 to 8 feet. Not much to say here. It’s just a rocky island with some trees on it.  

Warning: Swimming to the island may seem tempting, but beware that the island is further away than it looks. We expected it to take us 10 minutes, but it ended up taking around twice as long.

Getting to Starnes Island will take around 45 minutes from Austin. And is completely free unless you plan on chartering a boat to get there.

We also wrote similar guides for California and New Jersey!

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