St. Paul Cliffs, Ind. from Serene Swimming Holes

Serene Swimming Holes

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White Rock Park Inc.

St. Paul Cliffs, Ind.

Inside Indiana’s White Rock Park lie three quarry swimming holes where visitors are invited to swim, scuba dive, fish and play all day. Elevated platforms, ropes, swings and zip lines offer endless opportunities for an exciting aquatic adventure here. If you’re more into enjoying a snooze under the sun, there’s plenty of space for floating rafts too. The area also offers opportunities for fishing and the park features plenty of space for picnicking and primitive camping.

Flickr/Dave Thomas

Blanchard Springs Cavern, Ark.

Although there are bodies of water inside the Blanchard Spring Caverns, the best spots for swimming in this area are considered to be inside the park’s campgrounds. A few marked signs inside the park will lead you to the main swimming hole, which is also the most popular in the park, but if you make the extra trek into the campground swimminghole.org says you’ll find an even better spot for swimming just to the right near the beginning of the loop for sites 16 to 31. 

Flickr/fredsharples

Carlon Falls, Calif.

The unique thing about Carlon Falls is that a visit to this swimming hole offers unofficial (but still legal) entry into Yosemite National Park. The waterfalls that feed this popular swimming hole are inside of the park, but according to YosemiteHikes.com, the trailhead that will lead you to the scenic spot is not. The site also warns that visitors who wish to wade should take extra safety measures. “If you're planning to go into the water, please wait until after the spring runoff. Don't weigh just the water depth, temperature, and current when you're calculating the danger level - remember that river beds are often slippery as well.”

Flickr/Silvain Munck

Redfish Lake, Idaho

Yes, they call it a “lake,” but this secluded body of backcountry water is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque and scenic swimming holes in the entire U.S. Located just outside of Stanley, Idaho, a rural town with a population of just over 60 people (according to the 2010 Census), Redfish sits amidst the Sawtooth Mountains whose snow-capped peaks are reflected in the calm, immaculate waters. In addition to breathtaking scenery, the area also offers adventurous opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking and camping.

Flickr/thefuturistics

Peekamoose Blue Hole, N.Y.

Some say this hole was named because the chilly temperatures of its waters will turn you blue. But the better explanation for its name is related to the purity of the water, which is so clear that it reflects the sky and appears truly blue when viewed from the rocks above on a clear day. The pool is said to be very deep and although it may be quite cold, a quick dip could offer an easy way to cool off while hiking the area on a hot summer day.

Flickr/Jason Corneveaux

The Narrows, Utah

You won’t reap the benefits of a lazy lounge in one of The Narrows’ swimming holes without first overcoming a somewhat challenging hike. The hole is described as the spot where the Virgin River comes off a narrow canyon and can be reached through several different routes. For example, you can get there by hiking the entire course from north to south (typically considered an overnight trip) or choose a shorter path like the Riverside Trail. According to swimmingholes.org, the first mile of the Riverside Trail is paved and you will pass several small swimming holes along the way, but once you enter the Virgin River Canyon and head north you’ll have to trek through some shallow waters, so wearing appropriate shoes is advised. The site goes on to explain, “After about 1.5 miles of walking in the river, you come to where The Narrows really begin. Here, on the right, Orderville Canyon comes in. Hike up this canyon about .5 miles and you will come to small falls with several swimmable pools.”

VISIT FLORIDA Editor

Jackson Blue Spring, Fla.

A shallow bowl filled with clear water makes this Florida park a popular area for swimming and a gathering spot for a few other water sports too. A 202-acre reservoir known as Merritt’s Millpond where you can boat and fish is located nearby and the area also features several other springs including Shangri-La Springs, Twin Cave Springs, Hole in the Rock Springs and Gate Spring. Scuba diving and cave diving are permitted here so long as you obtain proper permits from the county.

Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Tonkwawa Springs, Texas

With a year-round temperature of 68-degrees F, this spring-fed swimming hole attracts all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts year round. The spring is now part of a privately owned campground, but for a small fee you can swim freely even if you don’t plan to camp.  

Flickr/Bruce Faling

Stony Fork Creek, Pa.

Stony Fork Creek is home to several scenic swimming holes, many of which are said to be fairly deep. According to one account on swimmingholes.org, the hole at Little Falls is around seven to ten feet deep during the summer season. Just because the hole has depth doesn’t mean jumping is completely safe though. “Be careful jumping because there are two large boulders in the water that are large enough to stand on in the middle and keep you above water,” one visitor shared on the site. Another account recalls, “If you looked down you couldn’t see the bottom at all, but you could see little fish swimming around.”

Flickr/ehpien

Snoqualmie Falls, Wash.

One of Washington’s most popular and picturesque outdoor attractions, the falls at Snoqualmie are 270-feet tall and pools below offer unofficial opportunities for aquatic adventures. Take caution if you choose to swim here, though. It is strongly advised that you stay away from the water if the currents are strong. According to swimmingholes.org, occasions for safe swimming are most frequent during the late summer when the currents are low.

Serene Swimming Holes