The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Sick of crowded beaches? Splash into one of these beautiful oasis spots for some cool, relaxing fun.

Waterfall and grotto at Hamilton pool preserve in Dripping Springs, Texas. Michael Connell | Getty Images

As we approach the height of summer, you might be getting tired of the plastic chairs and cement at your neighborhood pool, and maybe you’re even a little sick of the sunburns and sandy bathing suits of your local beach. But you still need to cool off. Try stepping off the grid with this list of all-American swimming holes—think fresh moving water, rivers, waterfalls and natural springs—that will leave you relaxed, refreshed and a bit more in tune with mother nature.

Sliding Rock, Asheville, North Carolina

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

The natural slide at Sliding Rock. LouisL | Flickr

This swimming hole in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina has been popular for decades thanks to its 60-foot natural water slide. The slide ends in an eight-foot deep pool, features two observation areas and is staffed during the season.

Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily in season (starting on May 26)
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-3265
Latitude : 35.311531 Longitude : -82.787379
Daily fee of $2

Madison Blue Springs State Park, Florida

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Divers in the fresh water spring of Madison Blue Springs state park, Florida. Timothy O’Keefe | Alamy Stock Photo

This relatively new state park is located in the middle of Florida about 20 minutes south of the Georgia border. The spring here is 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep and has been gaining a loyal following from those who crave a dip in its dazzling crystal clear, aqua water.

Open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. until sundown
8300 NE State Road 6
Lee, FL 32059
(850) 971-5003
Admission: $5 per vehicle

Warren Falls, Mad River Valley, Vermont

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

A view at Warren Falls. Vince O’Sullivan | Flickr

Visiting Warren Falls has become a summer tradition for Vermonters and tourists alike, owing to this unique spot’s multiple waterfalls, deep pools, natural water slide and interesting rock formation. Swimmers of all ages will enjoy the pools with depths varying from one to ten feet.

3919 Route 100
Warren, VT 05674
No facilities or charges

Blue Hole, Ocoee, Tennessee

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Blue Hole. Teresaphillips1965 | Flickr

About an hour outside Atlanta, Blue Hole is near the Ocoee Whitewater Center. It is fairly easy to access and features deep, wide swimming holes as well as some underwater tunnels.

Water levels are controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority and water is released from the Ocoee dam on Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day, so there is no weekend swimming.

4400 US-64
Copperhill, TN 37317
Parking fee of $3

Three Pools, Oregon

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Three Pools swimming hole and Opal Creek, Oregon. Beth Dixson | Alamy

Three Pools attracts over 15,000 visitors a year with its emerald waters and easy walking access from a nearby Willamette National Forest parking area. The swimming areas are clustered together and there are a few spots ideal for cliff jumping.

Open daily from dawn until dusk
NF-2207, Gates, OR 97346
(541) 225-6300
Parking $5 per vehicle

Blue Hole, New Mexico

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a bell shaped pool and a popular scuba diving spot. Phil Degginger | Alamy

Like a real-life mirage in the desert, Blue Hole in Santa Rosa has been drawing visitors as they head west along Route 66 for decades. Originally known as Blue Lake, Blue Hole is part of a series of larger lakes that are connected underground. Blue Hole features sparkling, clear waters, and the water replenishes itself every six hours while staying at a consistent temperature of 62 degrees.

Open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily
(575) 472-3404
913-1099 La Pradira Avenue
Santa Rosa, NM
Admission free, parking $5

Cummins Falls, Tennessee

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Cummins Falls, Jackson County, Tennessee. Cummins Falls Tennesse | Getty Images

Cummins Falls State Park, located roughly mid-way between Nashville and Knoxville, has been a scenic spot and swimming hole for those “in the know” for more than 100 years. The waters are deep and wide, but the hike in can be strenuous and steep.

Park hours are 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
390 Cummins Falls Lane
Cookeville, Tennessee 38501

Wakulla Springs, Florida

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Panoramic view of Wakulla Springs from the diving platform. Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection | Alamy

Located near Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs claims to be the biggest and deepest freshwater spring in the world. In addition to swimming, Wakulla Springs offers guided riverboat tours and snorkeling, as well as bird watching, nature trails and horse paths.

The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

Swimming area opens at 9:00am
465 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, FL 32327
(850) 561–7276
Parking $6 per vehicle

Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs, Texas

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Waterfall and grotto at Hamilton pool preserve in Dripping Springs. Michael Connell | Getty Images

Located a little less than an hour west of Austin, Hamilton Pool is quite simply visually stunning. It was formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion, which resulted in the surreal setting of a natural pool surrounded by slabs of limestone with stalactites overhead. Bring your camera and plan ahead—this swimming hole is very popular, and reservations fill up weeks in advance.

From May 15-September 30th, reservations are required
There are two time slots each day: 9 a.m. – 1p.m or 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
24300 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Reservations are $10, parking is $15

Lower Enfield Falls, NY

The 10 most scenic swimming holes in America

Lower Falls in Enfield Glen, Robert H Treman State Park, New York. Posnov | Getty Images

This hideaway is a charming stream-fed pool at the bottom of a waterfall in Ithaca’s Robert Treman State Park. Swimmers will enjoy the cool, clear water, the pools of varying depths and the diving board built onto a rock ledge.

2016 swimming season is June 25 – September 5, 11am-7pm daily
105 Enfield Falls Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Latitude 42.402649 Longitude -76.548080
(607) 273-3440
$7 per car

Keep in mind
Please note that some of these spots have amenities and some are simply natural swimming holes with the most rudimentary of facilities. So come prepared! Keep in mind that these are all natural bodies of water so water depths vary with weather conditions and swimmers should heed all posted signs and safety notices. We suggest calling ahead to confirm opening times and water conditions.

Addresses listed are those closest to the swimming areas for the purposes of GPS navigation.

Amy Cojac Andrews
Amy Andrews
Amy Cojac Andrews is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and New York City. She writes about luxury and family travel for Ciao Bambino and other publications.

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