The summer heat can be downright oppressive. Scoping out the nearest swimming holes for you and your family is one of the best things you can do. Forget about crowded public pools and venture out into nature, where you’ll find an abundance of beautiful lakes, creeks and rivers to wade into. Here are some of the best natural swimming holes in the country.
Blue Hole of Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Santa Rosa is often deemed the City of Natural Lakes. The region is chock full of pristine swimming holes to choose from, but one stands out from the rest. Blue Hole is a spring-fed natural pool of water that runs roughly 80 feet deep. Water temperatures stay around 64 degrees all year long, so you don’t have to stick to summer if you want to take a dip. Divers come to this desert location often to see what’s lurking beneath the surface.
Beaver Falls, Havasu Creek Waterfalls, Arizona
Six miles downstream from the village of Supai lies one of the most picturesque swimming holes in the nation. Beaver Falls, part of the Havasu Creek Waterfalls, lies smack dab in the middle of the Grand Canyon. It provides some fairly epic views of the surrounding landscape as well as plenty of seclusion. Getting there requires quite the hike in, but the turquoise waters and stunning falls make it well worth the effort.
Sliding Rock, North Carolina
Sliding Rock might not be the warmest body of water on the list, but it does provide the most fun. This family friendly attraction is a 60-foot-long slab of rock that forms the perfect natural waterslide. The ride down is quite an epic adventure, though you and the kids might be waiting in line a little while to try it out. The rocky slide deposits you right into a cool lake of water at the bottom, in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest.
Cummins Falls, Tennessee
Cummins Falls is a true treasure located deep within the heart of Jackson County that provides some spectacular views and a great dipping spot for the kids. It’s the eighth largest waterfall in the state of Tennessee with a cascading array of water providing the perfect backdrop against a pool of warm water. You’ll have to hike a ways in to reach it, but the views of the surrounding Blackburn Fork State Scenic River are some of the best the American South has to offer.
Aztec Falls, California
The Aztec Falls are a natural wonder hidden deep within the San Bernardino Mountains, just a few hours outside of Los Angeles. Wind your way along a six-mile loop located just off the Pacific Crest Trail and you’ll come across a beautiful swimming hole made of high cliffs and astonishingly deep waters. If you’re the adventurous type you’ll really enjoy the jumps; the cliffs run up to 60 feet high around the water and are great for those into taking risks.
Redfish Lake, Stanley, Idaho
A rugged trip into the backcountry will often lead to the most promising natural wonders. That’s certainly true with Redfish Lake. Located just outside the town of Stanley, this beautiful piece of untouched wilderness was once a prominent swimming ground for so many sockeye salmon that it supposedly turned the lake red. Nowadays birds and people willing to make the trek to reach it mostly populate the area. Imagine swimming in crystal clear waters with awe-inspiring reflections of the snowcapped Sawtooth Range glistening back at you, surrounded by peregrine falcons and ruby-crowned kinglets. That’s Redfish Lake.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Reynolds County, Missouri
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park serves as a prime swimming hole for the entire state of Missouri and is touted as the unofficial state water park. It’s crowded for sure, but still tons of fun for adults and kids. The East Fork of the Black River converges on a slim channel of rock formations at Johnson’s Shut-Ins, creating a series of small swimming pools to splash in. The joy lies in trying to hop from eddy to eddy without getting wiped out. It’s perfectly safe to slide around on the volcanic stone while staying cool.
Echo Lake, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire
The 39-acre Echo Lake provides ample opportunity for families to enjoy their own little patch of water along the Franconia Range. The lake is nestled right where the Franconia Range and Kinsman Range meet, creating a notch enclosed by the slopes of the Cannon Mountain ski area. The views are extraordinary and the shores are lined with sand, making them perfect for weekend getaways and building sandcastles.