Wild West Texas is full of ironies. Why yes, that is a fake Prada shop in the middle of nowhere. And, yes, the Target bullseye doesn’t even miss one of the least unpopulated parts of the state — the town of Marathon. But, the spirited annual chili competition that puts the life back into the Terlingua ghost town is all kinds of real.
And, the irony of ironies is this: The world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool is right smack-dab in the middle of the arid Texas desert — just like a mirage, except it’s also real. So, no, your eyes don’t deceive you.
The pool is at Balmorhea State Park, a historic park in Toyahvale that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through this 1.3-acre water oasis each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs. And, the water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round, so this is a pool for all seasons — unlike some of those pesky water parks that shut down in the winter.
What’s more, you can even scuba dive here. The water depth reaches 25 feet in some areas, and the pool is home to numerous species of aquatic animals, including two small, endangered desert fishes — the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish. Just make sure to bring a diving friend because the park operates on a buddy system, where you need a minimum of two certified divers to dive. Entrance to this massive swimming and diving hole is free with park admission.
You know what they say: Everything’s bigger in Texas. Yes, yes, it is.