Yes, you could take a dip in a regular swimming pool, but why not try something a little more adventurous? Nature’s swimming pools are refreshing, unique, and surrounded by beautiful scenery. And with Washington’s lush green vegetation, you will feel like you’re bathing in a forest. Check out the seven best swimming holes in Vancouver and learn what makes them special!
Note: most of the picks on this list are a short drive outside of Vancouver.
1. High Rocks Park (Best Swimming Holes in Vancouver WA)
If you don’t mind driving 30 minutes to Gladstone, Oregon, you should definitely check out High Rocks Park. It’s a favorite spot in the area for fishing, picnicking, and swimming. You will find rocky outcroppings along the Clackamas River, where people like to dive, play, float, and lounge around on the large rocks near the water. However, the area can get pretty crowded during the hot summer months. But there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy your own little slice of the river. While the water gets pretty deep, you should still use caution while diving.
2. Sandy Swimming Hole
Located in Washougal, Sandy Swimming Hole is about a 20-minute drive east of Vancouver. The swimming area is in the Washougal River, where there are shallow areas for smaller children and deep pools for diving for older children and adults. It’s a very popular spot during the summer, where people come to swim, snorkel, float, BBQ, and layout in the sun. The evenings can get crowded, so be sure to get there early if you want to find parking. Also, the rocky shore has limited shade; bring your own umbrella!
3. Dougan Falls
Also in Washougal is Dougan Falls. This waterfall and swimming hole is about 45 minutes northwest of Vancouver and right next to the Dougan Campground. Whether you’re camping or just stopping by for the afternoon, Dougan Falls is a must-see close to Vancouver. There are multiple shallow and deep pools along the river and right next to the waterfall. And while it can get pretty crowded, especially during the warm months, there is still plenty of space to stretch out and swim to yourself. Just be careful walking on the slippery rocks! Also, you must have a Discover Pass or purchase a day pass from the convenience store before parking (if you don’t want a ticket).
4. Naked Falls
A little further north in Washougal, you will find Naked Falls. This fun swimming area is about an hour’s drive from Vancouver, but it’s well worth the day trip. You will need a day pass and grippy shoes to climb down slippery rocks to the river bed. But once you get there, there are plenty of spots to relax on the rocks around the water. The water is crystal clear but can be very cold, even in the summer. But for those brave enough, there are shallow areas for lounging and deeper pools for cliff diving. There are also campsites close to the water, so you can make a weekend of it.
5. Scott’s Mills Falls
Scott’s Mills Falls is an hour south of Vancouver in Clackamas County, Oregon. This is an excellent spot for a family fun day during the summer. You can enjoy BBQing, playing on the playground, and swimming in a pool near a gushing waterfall. However, the current near the falls can be strong, so proper precautions should be taken, especially with young children. But there is a small manmade wading pool nearby they can play in. There are also private beach areas above the waterfall for you to lay out and relax.
6. Swift Shore Park
About 30 minutes south of Vancouver, just outside of Portland is Swift Shore Park. It’s located on the Tualatin River and features slow-moving water with warmer temperatures during the summer. It’s a popular spot during the summer, so prepare to deal with crowds during midday. If you prefer a more quiet and tranquil experience, aim to visit earlier or later in the day. There are areas for cliff diving, roping swinging, and tube floating. Bring a cooler and make a day of it!
7. Mosier Falls
Mosier Falls is the furthest stop on this list. It’s about an hour and 15-minute drive east of Vancouver in the Columbia Gorge. Unlike the other swimming holes, Mosier Falls requires a short hike to the waterfall and swimming hole. Be sure to bring good shoes and water. You will enjoy wildflowers on your walk before reaching the scenic falls. This area is not great for small children, as it is a smaller swimming area with lots of people jumping off cliffs.
Best Swimming Holes in Vancouver, WA: A Recap of the Top 7
|Rank||Best Swimming Holes in Vancouver, WA||Distance From Vancouver (Driving)|
|#1||High Rocks Park||30 minutes|
|#2||Sandy Swimming Hole||20 minutes|
|#3||Dougan Falls||45 minutes|
|#4||Naked Falls||1 hour|
|#5||Scott’s Mills Falls||1 hour|
|#6||Swift Shore Park||30 minutes|
|#7||Mosier Falls||1 hour and 15 minutes|
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