The Best Swimming Holes in Kansas

Sunset at Shawnee Mission Park, KS
Nick Tre. Smith/

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: August 16, 2023

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When many people imagine Kansas, the last thing they imagine is beautiful waterfalls and shimmering blue lagoons. While the Wizard of Oz showcased a yellow brick road, we’re bringing you back to Kansas to show you just how incredible the swimming holes are in this great state. 

There are a plethora of spots to choose from, but our team has done the research to find the best options to ensure you get the most out of your summer in Kansas!

Crawford Lake

The shore & lake at Crawford State Park.

Crawford Lake is located in Crawford State Park, where you can camp along the waterfront.

One of the state’s most stunning parks is Crawford State Park. Redbud trees, which are found on the fringe of the Ozarks, are incredibly beautiful in the spring and have colorful leaves in the autumn. Unmatched possibilities for wildlife and beautiful excursions can be found here. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this 150-acre lake for the 500-acre park in the 1930s.

Campers and residents of nearby towns frequently visit the beach to take advantage of the sun and waves. The day-use park,  shelter, and restroom/shower building are all close to the beach. The beach area is not a camping place. It’s best to leave Fido at home, as pets aren’t allowed at this go-to summer spot. 

They are all lakefront and have easy access. This property has a number of trails, such as the Spider Leg Bridge Trail and the CCC Memorial Trail. Both are distinct and provide information about local history. We suggest enjoying the water here from Memorial Day through the end of fall! 

Shawnee Mission Park

Money Magazine ranked Shawnee Mission Park Beach as the top beach in Kansas. The brand-new beach home was built and made available for the 2018 summer season. Among the amenities are a sizable lakefront swimming zone, a beach volleyball court, a sizable shaded snack area, and restrooms.

The swimming area is open from the end of May through August. Something unique about this spot is that it has shorter hours and often closes around 5 pm. Want to switch up your water workout? Are you training for a triathlon soon? The Shawnee Mission Park Beach in Johnson County, Kansas, hosts open water swim training sessions every Tuesday and Thursday.

Overall, this is a great spot to bring the entire family for a relaxing day on the water! 

Big Hill Lake

Welcome to the “Little Ozarks” of Kansas! East of Cherryvale, Kansas, 5 miles away. The Corps of Engineers provides five lovely park sites for camping, picnics, and other recreational activities. Visit one of Kansas’ clearest lakes today. 

Many fishermen are familiar with Big Hill Lake, which is regarded as a trophy fishing lake. This is the location to be if visitors wish to participate in any aquatic sports! This sandy beach has gained popularity as a place to escape the summer heat and have a picnic with the family.

Glass bottles are not permitted in the sea or on the beach in order to protect your safety and that of others. Additionally, data show that a majority of drownings include alcohol, hence alcohol is not permitted on the shore or in the beach car park.

Cedar Bluff State Park

cedar bluff

The northern shore of Cedar Bluff Reservoir is nearly 350 acres.

For all of your outdoor needs, the Bluffton Area on the northern shore of Cedar Bluff Reservoir offers roughly 350 acres. There are five contemporary guest cabins, two boat ramp sites, 96 electric campsites, two public shelters, a large electric campground that can be reserved, several unoccupied primitive campsites, and picnic spaces. 

To work up a sweat before diving into the water, visitors can shoot hoops on the beach, play horseshoes, or beach volleyball, or visit the BMX track.  Although not as developed, the Page Creek Area on the reservoir’s south bank offers good rustic camping, along with big trees that give shade and sandy shorelines. If you want a more peaceful retreat, the refreshing water is waiting for your visit! 

Chase Lake Falls

The stunning Flint Hills region is where Chase Lake Falls is located. Those who conceive of Kansas as being absolutely flat are shocked when they see these rolling hills! Numerous trails in the area are ideal for sightseeing. It’s a little bit cooler while trekking than when you’re out in the open since the woods offer some protection from the sun. 

Even at low flow, the chain of waterfalls that make up the area is breathtaking. The flow varies widely from year to year, with the summer months experiencing the strongest currents right after a particularly severe downpour.

There is a decent-sized swimming area at the base of the falls. It’s the perfect place to spend a humid summer day in the great state of Kansas. Because there are a lot of rocks and boulders in the area, it’s best to wear grippy swimming shoes to prevent any dangerous slips. 

Summary of the Best Swimming Holes in Kansas

NumberSwimming Hole
1Crawford Lake
2Shawnee Mission Park
3Big Hill Lake
4Cedar Bluff State Park
5Chase Lake Falls

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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