These Swimming Holes Are Some of Our County's Best-Kept Secrets
From cool refreshing pools to waterfalls and rapids, put these destinations on your summer travel bucket list.
After a year of hibernating indoors, summer 2021 might just be the most anticipated season ever. RV sales are through the roof, road trips are being planned, and people are looking for ways to embark on adventures across the country. Whether you're seeking a tropical getaway or a desert escape, at some point you'll want to refresh with a cool dip in the water. When looking for locales to visit this summer, a paradise with a swimming hole is ideal, especially with hot temperatures on the horizon.
From stunning waterfalls to flowing lazy rivers, there are so many incredible natural features to enjoy at swimming holes. These fresh bodies of water usually take the form of rivers, creeks, streams, and natural springs where people can swim or even rest on a pool float. They exist all over the U.S., from Hawaii to Wyoming to Florida, so you can have your choice of preferences depending on seasonal climate and where you want to travel.
However, for as beautiful and tranquil as these swimming holes look, it's important to be cautious when visiting because these are natural areas; that means that there may be rocks under the surface of the water, so diving is not advised. Generally speaking, there are no lifeguards in these areas, so you should also be mindful of water safety at all times, especially when you're visiting with children. Once safety is considered, these are wonderful spots to spend a day, splashing, and bathing in the sun.
Though there are some popular swimming holes absent from this list because summer is not an ideal time to visit them (such as Havasu Falls, Chena Hot Springs, Homestead Crater, and so forth), you'll find that this list of a dozen swimming holes gives you plenty of options to choose from in order to plan the ultimate summer escape.
Little River Canyon, Alabama
Nestled in the Southern Appalachians, Little River Canyon is a stunning natural preserve in Alabama, located just two hours northeast of Birmingham. This idyllic destination offers visitors lush scenery, nature trails, and three breath-taking waterfalls-Little River Falls, Little Falls, and Graces High Falls. These popular waterfalls often have full parking lots by 11 a.m. in peak seasons so you should arrive early to secure a spot.
Carlon Falls, California
This beautiful waterfall located in Yosemite National Park presents visitors with 3.8 miles of scenic hiking trails and a lovely swimming hole with cascading streams that becomes a crowd favorite once water levels become safe. The hike to get to the swimming hole is not daunting, but it's not unheard of to see a bear.
Madison Blue Spring, Florida
This radiant blue 80-foot wide natural spring provides tourists with a picturesque place to spend the afternoon. Not only can you enjoy the refreshing waters of this area either by swimming or paddling, but you can also explore underwater to see the wildlife like turtles, fish, and more via snorkeling and cave diving!
Silver Glen Springs, Florida
Rent a canoe and paddle throughout the clear blue waters of Silver Glen Springs or float on the surface and enjoy the Florida sunshine. Based in Ocala National Forest, this very popular destination gets busy fast, so plan ahead and arrive early to ensure you find parking.
Bridal Veil Falls, Georgia
Maybe you have plenty of options for a place to swim now, but what about a place to water slide? Bridal Veil Falls sits a Tallulah Gorge about three miles inland, so a short hike is required to access this wondrous landmark. Once you arrive, you'll be greeted by a 30-foot natural waterslide across a smooth rock that will deposit you in the swimming hole for maximum fun.
Queen's Bath, Kauai, Hawaii
When you go to Hawaii, you know you'll be surrounded by the ocean, but what makes this "bath," which is really just a natural tide pool, so special is the environment. Beautiful lava rocks surround this oasis, making it the perfect serene escape. However, safety guidelines must be followed strictly here, because if the surf is too high, there are serious risks involved.
Diana's Baths, New Hampshire
This natural jungle gym of rocks and waterfalls allows visitors to climb, swim, and explore this beautiful terrain through several hiking areas. Below the falls, there are natural swimming pools perfect for a rejuvenating dip in the water. While this area is popular, the baths are large and allow for less crowding.
Sliding Rock, North Carolina
Sliding Rock is a great destination for the whole family. Why? At this natural water slide in North Carolina, there are lifeguards on duty, which means safety is always front of mind. A whopping 11,000 gallons of water keep this rock a consistent slide, and it drops you into an eight-foot swimming hole. It's advised to bring water shoes to protect your feet when sliding, but they're not required.
Santa Rose Blue Hole, New Mexico
This natural dive hole is perfect for explorers! With cliff-jumping, diving, and scuba-diving available, you can explore the 81-foot depths of this unique spring in the heart of the New Mexico desert. The crystal blue waters give this destination its name, but people stay for the experiences available while in the water. This swimming hole is permit-only, but you can see the requirements listed on the website.
Three Pools, Oregon
This swimming area off the Santiam River has a little something for everyone. If you're an adventure junkie, you can find exhilaration through cliff-jumping, but if you'd prefer to float around, Three Pools offers the perfect setting to do so. Be advised, this swimming hole is hugely popular and can get crowded so plan accordingly.
Blue Hole Regional Park, Texas
This Texas swim hole is ideal during the summer with gem-blue waters surrounded by lush greenery. Reservations are required, and you can swim at Blue Hole between two time slots-9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., or you can reserve both to stay for the full day. Throughout the park, there are also trails, picnic areas, and recreational areas.
Firehole River Swimming Area, Wyoming
Tucked away in Yellowstone National Park is the Firehole River, a gorgeous waterfall and an invigorating swimming hole that's perfect after a hot summer day of exploring the park. You can access the swim area by way of a rocky beach with lots of seating areas. Try to arrive earlier in the day because off-road parking is available but limited.