Just imagine plunging into crystal-clear waters, surrounded by towering cliffs, lush forests, or dramatic canyons, their vibrant colors reflecting in the cool, pristine pools below. From cascading waterfalls in remote corners of national parks to hidden oases nestled deep within deserts, the United States is home to a huge array of hidden swimming holes dotted across all 50 states.
In this article, we’ll cover the best of these swimming holes in the United States. Whether you’re a seasoned nature enthusiast, an avid explorer, or simply someone seeking a break from the intense heat this summer, these hidden gems promise unforgettable moments and a refreshing escape.
1. Hali’i Falls – Kauai, HI
Hidden deep within the dense jungles of Hawaii’s Kaua’i island lies Hali’i Falls, a mesmerizing waterfall with multiple tiers. But to reach this secluded paradise, you must navigate through marshy terrain, former sugarcane pastures, and bamboo forests.
This expedition is not for the faint-hearted, as the route remains uncharted and rarely ventured upon. However, the reward is a sight to behold—a magnificent cascade of water gracefully gliding over rocky formations into a vibrant green pool below. Hali’i Falls, aptly named “to spread out,” offers an unparalleled swimming experience.
However, with that said, although swimming is possible, it does come with risks, as no immediate help is available. For a safe and enjoyable experience, it is advisable to take a refreshing dip in the waters away from the base of the magnificent Hali’i Falls.
2. Mooney Falls – Havasupai Indian Reservation, AZ
Standing tall at an impressive height of 200 feet, Mooney Falls not only offers breathtaking scenery but also presents an adventurous journey to reach its serene pool. To get here, you’ll need to traverse through the ancient mining tunnels on the cliff face, relying on chains and ladders to descend. Getting to these falls is definitely not for the faint of heart!
This exhilarating descent may not be suitable for everyone, so it’s crucial to assess personal limits before attempting the rock wall climb.
The mesmerizing azure pool at the base of Mooney Falls provides a refreshing retreat, particularly during scorching summer days. While wading in the water, exercise caution near the deeper section and admire the clear view of the lime-covered rock floor beneath.
However, keep in mind that access to the Havasupai Indian Reservation, including Mooney Falls, requires a permit. These permits are limited and often in high demand, so it’s recommended to plan and book well in advance.
3. The Crack Swimming Hole at Wet Beaver Creek – Yavapai County, AZ
Tucked away in Arizona is the beautiful destination known as The Crack swimming hole, a hidden swimming hole in the United States. This incredible hike, spanning 7 miles round trip, unveils a hidden swimming hole where you can indulge in refreshing cannonballs and escape the heat.
While The Crack is a paradise for cliff jumpers, it is a great destination for everyone, boasting smooth sunbathing rocks and shallow waters perfect for wading. Unlike Sedona’s more frequented swimming spots, The Crack’s slightly longer 3.5-mile hike each way adds to its charm.
Though the desert sun presents a challenge, the beauty of the swimming hole makes every step worthwhile. Keep in mind that there is no cellular service along the trail or at the swimming hole.
4. Beaver Falls – Northern Oregon Coast, OR
Hidden in the state of Oregon, Beaver Falls is a waterfall cascading 48 feet into a spacious basin, inviting swimmers to jump in and cool off in nature.
Accessible through two distinct routes, hikers can choose between the standard approach, starting at the well-marked trailhead, or the second option, which involves a creek crossing above the falls, advisable only during low water levels.
Explore the magic of Beaver Falls, where you can traverse the slippery rocks and venture behind the cascading water. Unlike the bustling Columbia Gorge waterfalls, this hidden gem offers solitude, with few tourists and weekend adventurers.
Enjoy the tranquility of the old-growth forest, witness the captivating waterfalls, and admire the vibrant wildflowers dotting the landscape.
5. Indian Springs Swimming Hole – Lake Tahoe, CA
Situated in the picturesque landscape of the Tahoe National Forest, Indian Springs presents a small but inviting swimming hole conveniently located near I-80. Accessible via a brief path through Indian Springs Campground, this hidden spot is situated at a lofty elevation of 5600 feet.
The swimming hole boasts a wide and serene pool area, attracting visitors who seek respite from the summer heat, often seen floating on inflatable toys and rafts. Furthermore, as you explore upstream, you’ll see a narrow canyon with a couple of waterfalls, where adventurous swimmers jump into the depths below.
However, it’s important to exercise caution and assess water depths, as they fluctuate frequently throughout the year, except during the summertime.
6. Paradise Cove – Southern Front Range, CO
If you’re looking for a hidden swimming hole in the United States, check out Paradise Cove, a hidden gem nestled within the stunning West Fourmile Creek canyon. Starting from the swimming hole’s parking area, go on a pleasant 0.5-mile stroll into the heart of this breathtaking location. While short, the trail does have some steep sections.
As you arrive at Paradise Cove Swimming Hole, its beauty becomes immediately apparent. Take a dip in the deep pool, enhanced by an improvised rock dam, encircled by majestic 100-foot granite cliffs. Additionally, witness the horsetail plunges of West Fourmile Creek, totaling approximately 20 feet upstream.
When you want a break from the sun, seek shade underneath the ponderosa pines, and enjoy a peaceful picnic in this idyllic setting. Finally, for those seeking adrenaline and adventure, try a 35-foot cliff jump to get your heart pumping!
7. Dorset Quarry – Dorset, VT
Dorset Quarry is another hidden swimming hole in the United States with a natural ambiance. However, it also has sections of perfectly straight walls and precise right angles, a testament to its man-made origins. Established in 1785 as America’s inaugural commercial marble quarry, this historic site supplied construction materials for iconic structures like the New York Public Library.
Presently, the quarry has transformed into a haven for aquatic fun, inviting swimmers to partake in exhilarating cannonballs, graceful swan dives, and daring belly flops. The entire perimeter of the swimming hole acts as an expansive diving platform, ensuring endless thrills for all those who visit!
8. Hamilton Pool – Texas Hill Country, TX
Nestled in the heart of Central Texas, Hamilton Pool is a breathtaking oasis and one of the region’s most captivating swimming holes. Cascading over limestone formations, Hamilton Creek forms a majestic 50-foot waterfall, creating a dramatic spectacle within the confines of a steep box canyon.
Surprisingly, the pool’s water level remains relatively constant, defying periods of drought. However, visitors should be prepared for the chilly water temperature, which can dip below 50°F during the winter and spring. So, you might be better off visiting this swimming hole in the summertime!
To reach the pool, a quarter-mile hiking trail awaits, characterized by steep and rugged terrain with uneven steps. Wearing sturdy shoes is highly recommended for this adventure!
9. Rattlesnake Pool – Blueberry Mountain, ME
One of the best swimming holes in the United States is Rattlesnake Pool, a stunning swimming hole accessible through an enjoyable and brief hike. As you embark on your journey, traverse open fields before immersing yourself in the serene woods where this hidden pool awaits to reward you for your efforts.
It’s important to note that both the trail and Rattlesnake Pool reside on private land, emphasizing the significance of practicing leave-no-trace principles. Prepare to be enchanted by this beautiful location, adorned with a small waterfall and crystalline emerald waters. Swim in the deep pool, offering opportunities for jumps and leisurely relaxation.
Keep in mind that Rattlesnake Pool’s water is sourced from an underground spring, ensuring a refreshingly cool experience, particularly in the summer. Don’t forget to bring a towel for your visit!
10. Emerald Pool – White Mountains National Forest, NH
Sitting in the picturesque landscapes of New Hampshire, Emerald Pool is one of the best hidden swimming holes in the United States. To get there, start your journey on an enjoyable, flat hike lasting around 15 to 30 minutes, offering easy access to this natural wonder.
When you arrive at the destination, prepare to be enchanted by the crisp, clear water that emits a mesmerizing green glow. The pool is fed by a graceful 20-foot waterfall meandering through the boulders. Moreover, the surrounding rocks provide various heights for exhilarating jumps into the deep pool, ranging from 5 to 15 feet.
While the location exudes beauty, it’s important to note that the pool itself is rather small, and you may find it crowded on weekends with fellow jumpers. It’s best to visit this swimming hole during the week.
11. Meadow Run Natural Waterslide – Ohiopyle State Park, PA
For a thrilling combination of hiking and aquatic fun, check out Ohiopyle State Park’s Meadow Run Natural Waterslide. The scenic Meadow Run Trail unveils not only two waterfalls but also this exhilarating natural waterslide.
Brace yourself for an exciting glide, but expect a few bumps and bruises as you slide along the ancient sandstone, boasting a rich history spanning millions of years. Keep in mind that the popularity of the natural waterslide surges, particularly on scorching summer days, so anticipate a bustling atmosphere.
Furthermore, don’t miss the nearby Cucumber Falls, renowned as one of the most photogenic and frequently photographed waterfalls in western Pennsylvania.
12. Rocky Falls – Winona, MO
Start your journey with a short and scenic hike from the parking lot to discover the captivating Rocky Falls. This popular destination offers not only a picturesque swimming hole but also the opportunity for adventure seekers to climb to the top of the falls, which boasts ancient rocks dating back 1.5 billion years.
The main attraction is undoubtedly the refreshing pool at the base of the waterfall, perfect for cooling off on those scorching Missouri days.
Just a stone’s throw away from the falls, convenient amenities such as picnic tables, grills, and bathrooms await, allowing you to easily enjoy a full day of exploration and relaxation at Rocky Falls, one of the best swimming holes in the United States.
13. Turner Falls – Davis, OK
Enjoy the natural wonder of Turner Falls, an iconic waterfall nestled amidst the ancient mountains of Oklahoma. Witness the captivating sight of a stunning blue waterfall gracefully descending from the rocks, creating a picturesque swimming pool below.
The symphony of sound, mesmerizing sight, and refreshing spray combine to create a truly spectacular experience. Located in Davis, Turner Falls Park proudly boasts the tallest waterfall in the state, standing tall at an incredible 77 feet. This hidden gem is a perfect haven for summertime adventures with loved ones.
Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted by the abundance of trails that offer breathtaking vistas and close encounters with nature’s beauty at every turn.
14. Rutledge Falls – Tullahoma, TN
Embark on a delightful adventure with the short yet rewarding hike to Rutledge Falls, offering an unforgettable experience. This family-friendly 0.8-mile out-and-back trail guarantees a huge payoff for all.
Daredevils can climb up the right side of the falls and take an exhilarating leap into the refreshing pool below. With its idyllic swimming hole, Rutledge Falls is a haven, particularly in Tennessee’s scorching summers.
Prepare for both wet and dry conditions, bringing along snacks and water for an impromptu romp in the water. Marvel at the jaw-dropping beauty of this natural wonder, perfect for picnicking and swimming!
15. Rock Pool – Malibu Creek State Park, CA
At Malibu Creek State Park, take a scenic 2-mile hike leading to the stunning Rock Pool among impressive volcanic rock formations.
Take a moment to savor a picnic amidst the serene surroundings and dip your feet into the crystal-clear water. Keep an eye out for the park’s native wildlife, including toads, salamanders, frogs, turtles, and lizards.
Exercise caution if tempted to leap from the majestic cliffs, as the pool’s depth varies and scattered rocks pose potential hazards. Remember, diving in Rock Pool is strictly prohibited to ensure the safety of all visitors.
16. Youngs River Falls – Clatsop County, OR
Youngs River Falls is a secluded oasis located approximately 10 miles south of Astoria. Tucked away amidst lush forests, this enchanting waterfall provides a serene escape from the bustling world. Witness the Youngs River gracefully cascading over a rocky ledge, forming a breathtaking 54-foot drop into a tranquil pool below.
To get to this hidden swimming hole, take a short and scenic 0.25-mile trail from the parking lot. Alternatively, enjoy a picturesque view of the waterfall right from the parking lot.
Don’t forget to capture the essence of this remarkable place, known for its cameo appearances in movies like Free Willy 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.
Summary of the Best Hidden Swimming Holes in the United States
|1||Hali’i Falls||Kauai, Hawaii|
|2||Mooney Falls||Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona|
|3||The Crack Swimming Hole||Yavapai County, Arizona|
|4||Beaver Falls||Northern Oregon Coast, Oregon|
|5||Indian Spring Swimming Hole||Lake Tahoe, California|
|6||Paradise Cove||Southern Front Range, Colorado|
|7||Dorset Quarry||Dorset, Vermont|
|8||Hamilton Pool||Texas Hill Country, Texas|
|9||Rattlesnake Pool||Blueberry Mountain, Maine|
|10||Emerald Pool||White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire|
|11||Meadow Run Natural Waterslide||Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania|
|12||Rocky Falls||Winona, Missouri|
|13||Turner Falls||Davis, Oklahoma|
|14||Rutledge Falls||Tullahoma, Tennessee|
|15||Rock Pool||Malibu Creek State Park, California|
|16||Youngs River Falls||Clatsop County, Oregon|
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