The Best Swimming Holes in Washington

Lake Cushman
Stacey Lynn Payne/

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: June 4, 2023

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Washingtonians endure a lot of gray skies because their state has the highest rainfall in the lower 48 states. As a result, it is fair to argue that no community is more worthy of summers filled with bright blue skies. 

Fortunately, all of that rain results in a state that is evergreen and dotted with the nicest streams, cascades, and lagoons. and swimming holes.  Simply said, when the summer heat rushes in, there are plenty of refreshing spots to unwind and have fun in Washington.

Green River Gorge

This exciting area is a gorge with a river running through it and a waterfall. This stream has a distinctive shade of green and provides tubing, cliff diving, and a rope swing. The Green River Gorge is divided into two sections to descend to the river. 

For the first section, park in the space marked with a yellow “river trail” sign in the center of Franklin’s ghost town. The first section is a little climb, but it is still necessary because you can see the waterfall clearly from the other side.

Depending on the time of year, the water can be quite cold. The later in the summer you arrive, the more enjoyable the water is for swimmers! Please practice leaving no trace because this swimming area is privately held and you do not want it to be closed down again in the future.

Lake Cushman 

Located about two hours from Seattle, Lake Cushman is a great swimming hole for those looking for a variety of water activities. There are several summertime options at this lake, including cliff diving, a secret rope swing, rowing, jet skiing, paddling, tubing, and more. 

Lake Cushman is a 4,010-acre lake with a number of cliff-jumping locations. In addition to jumping off the bridge, there are many rocks to pick from. Summertime traffic in this neighborhood can make parking challenging.  

To secure a decent place, get there early. There are several hiking spots in the region if you wish to prolong your adventure. For this area’s hiking trails, you would require an America the Beautiful pass. There is camping nearby in the Olympic National Park. 

We’d advise visiting Whatcom Falls and Whirlpool Falls for a breathtaking view.  Whatcom, a native word that means “noisy water,” is the ideal moniker for Bellingham’s most famous cascade. 

Whatcom Falls

Bellingham park, which spans 241 acres, is home to the Whatcom Creek Falls, which connects Bellingham Bay to Lake Whatcom. The park boasts four separate waterfalls, miles of well-kept hiking pathways, and a fishing lagoon where children under 14 may learn how to cast a line and set a fishing hook. 

You can easily navigate the paths and woods thanks to new trail maps that were posted in 2019, and you can locate Whirlpool Falls for a relaxing swim near the Waterline Bridge. All of the lush greenery surrounding the area makes this place a true getaway. 

Whatcom Falls Park

You can easily navigate the paths and woods, and locate Whirlpool Falls for a relaxing swim near the Waterline Bridge.

Pacman Cliff

If you’re looking for a rush of adrenaline or a relaxing afternoon, both can be found at Pacman Cliff. For starters, it rests on the shoreline of the Yakima River where you can spend the day casually floating. 

If that’s not your thing, there are two cliffs to jump from. One is much taller than the other and might require a pep talk before taking the plunge. The reason behind the name is quite interesting.

The explanation for it is that, when you’re floating down the river, a huge happy face that was painted on the rocks was transformed by someone into a Pac man. No matter the meaning, it’s an awesome place to spend a summer day! 

Eagle Falls

One of the many picturesque riverside oases in Washington State, Eagle Falls on the South Fork of the Skykomish River provides a 25-foot descent and a quiet reprieve on hot summer days. Not only is this a beautiful place to swim, but it’s also generally a great place to unplug. 

When you arrive, an unmarked trail will take you down a hill that is covered in the forest canopy to the mesmerizing emerald-blue waters. Sincerely, you’ll believe it to be a paradise! The constrained gorge created by the icy, glacier-fed waters’ powerful currents makes this a place for only experienced swimmers who are in great shape. 

Whether you want to sun on the rocks, pack a picnic to enjoy with the best of companies, or bring your favorite flamingos to float down the river, there’s plenty to do at this natural pool.

Summary of the Best Swimming Holes in Washington

RankSwimming Hole
1Green River Gorge
2Lake Cushman 
3Whatcom Falls
4Pacman Cliff
5Eagle 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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