The Best Swimming Holes in North Carolina

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: August 15, 2023
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A popular pastime is soaking in a crisp, pleasant North Carolina swimming hole. The temptation of diving into a chilly pool never grows old, regardless of your age. It’s the ideal time to organize a pleasant day excursion to a swimming hole now that the weather is starting to warm up and vacation mode is setting in. Whether you’re searching for the ideal location for a family vacation or a romantic retreat, these incredible swimming holes in North Carolina won’t let you down.

Skinny Dip Falls Trailhead

Go to Skinny Dip Falls, which is a collection of stunning flowing waterfalls on a clean river not far from Asheville off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Looking Glass Rock Overlook, a prominent destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located one mile east of the wildly popular Graveyard Fields waterfalls. 

The viewpoint at milepost 417 on the Parkway is typically busy with cars on warm-weather weekends, but it rarely has pedestrians on it. The overlook provides amazing scenery of the immediately recognizable and distinctively sculpted Looking Glass Rock Mountain close-up. 

But the majority of people who visit the viewpoint typically hike the short, very simple trek to the close-by Skinny Dip Falls, a stunning collection of tumbling waterfalls that culminates in deep, clear waters.

Bust Your Butt Falls

Quarry Falls is a less fun name for this well-liked swimming spot and natural cascade on the Cullasaja River close to Highlands along US Highway 64. From a few parking pull-offs, it is only a short distance to cross some hills. 

There is a “plunge off” cliff where divers can venture into the frigid waters to add to the thrill. Be exceedingly cautious because there are so many slick stones in this area! Bringing swimming shoes is in your best interest.  

Additionally, before swimming, make sure to verify the water’s depth because it depends on rainfall. The numerous big rocks are also excellent places to view, have lunch, and relax.

Bust Your Butt Falls

There are many slick, slippery stones in Bust Your Butt Falls, so bring swimming shoes.

©Shane Shelley/

Hunt Fish Falls

Hunt-Fish Falls, which is just 12 miles from North Carolina’s famous Linville Falls, is one of the jaw-dropping sights many locals don’t even know about that is concealed in some less-traveled areas of the forest. The Wilson Creek area, where this multi-layered waterfall is located, drains water from Grandfather Mountain to the foot of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. 

A broad rocky ledge that has been shaped and eroded by many years of water flow is where the falls are located. The state’s greatest waterfall pool is located at its base. Take a dip to discover how chilly the mountains remain year-round.

Some visitors have been known to pack or don bathing gear and enjoy a lovely day here, watching the falls, periodically cooling down, and lounging in the sun on the large granite boulder that has been smoothed out by the water flow.

Elk River Falls

The most magnificent waterfall in terms of sheer volume is Elk Falls. Due to its size, the diving pool is sure to be popular during the summer. Just before the river levels off, there are a few quick, five-foot waterfalls downstream of the pool. Twisted Falls are located further downstream as well.

At the falls, kindly use caution and good judgment. Although lovely, it may also be incredibly dangerous. Elk River Falls, often referred to as Big Falls, is characterized by tremendous amounts of water plunging 50 feet down a rock cliff into a magnificent circular pool. 

Additionally, avoid attempting to climb the rock wall or swim beneath the falls. Even strong swimmers are dragged under the water by the powerful currents the cascade creates in the extremely deep pool.

Upper Creek Falls

Upper Creek Falls, which is unassumingly situated alongside NC-181 on the route to the well-known Linville Falls and Linville Gorge, might be one of North Carolina’s most natural wonders. The Harper Creek and Wilson Creek sectors of the Pisgah National Forest are approximately bordered on the west by Upper Creek. 

Nearly all of the waterways in this region plunge precipitously into constrained gorges with substantial waterfalls from the Blue Ridge escarpment. In Upper Creek, the cascade is the highlight of the gorge’s picturesque section, which also has two lesser waterfalls and a number of swimming holes. 

Despite the short length of the circular trail, the ascent out of the gorge is steep and taxing. With numerous waterfalls and a swimming area equipped with a rope swing for jumping, Upper Creek Falls is a stunning location. Turn left to go to the swimming hole after going down a short stairway to the water’s edge.

Summary of the Best Swimming Holes in North Carolina

NumberSwimming Hole
1Skinny Dip Falls Trailhead
2Bust Your Butt Falls
3Hunt Fish Falls
4Elk River Falls
5Upper Creek Falls

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Craig Zerbe/

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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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