Floatin' with

Joe Nick Patoski, the ‘King of Texas Swimming Holes,’ presents his ever-evolving guide to Texas’ major rivers

A man in a kayak with an illustrated crown on his head

Joe Nick Patoski’s knowledge of Texas runs deep. As a writer-at-large for Texas Highways, Patoski has covered subjects ranging from Big Bend road trips to Selena to the Cajun culture of the Golden Triangle. Perhaps some of our favorite Patoski stories are those chronicling the treasured natural waters that provide cool relief during the hot summer.

For years, Patoski has served as our “unofficial river and swimming hole editor,” with annual stories exploring Texas rivers. Here, we share his engaging coverage of our state’s incomparable rivers, along with his work for some friends of ours who also regard Patoski as the “King of Texas Swimming Holes.”

A view of the Frio River with blue sky and lots of trees


The Frio

Bright blue water in between sandy rocky banks


The Nueces

A young woman in swim goggles stands on a wooden dock on the edge of the blue Blanco river water


The Blanco

An overhead view of the Brazos river through Waco


The Brazos

An overhead view of people swimming and relaxing in a spring-fed pool


The Comal

The cover of a guidebook reading "Texas Rivers"

From our partner, Wildsam

“King of Texas Swimming Holes,” Joe Nick Patoski lends his four decades of experience writing about Texas to Wildsam’s newest book, Texas Rivers. In his piece “Barton Springs,” Joe Nick narrates the summer of 1974 and his conversion from Springs skeptic to acolyte. A man first uneasy with the 68 degree constant to one enraptured by the refreshing oasis that binds a community. You can find more of Joe Nick’s freshwater, dance hall and barbecue joint writing in Wildsam’s Austin and San Antonio guides, its Texas road trip volume and this newest Texas Rivers photo almanac.

Wildsam is a modern travel brand with a bygone sense of place. Their acclaimed field guides explore iconic cities, towns and regions through the lens of story and are packed with smart intel for unforgettable journeys. The indie publisher is based in Austin.

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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