The 5 Best Yosemite Swimming Holes

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: September 8, 2023
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Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. Here, you can find long rivers, tall mountains, refreshing lakes, and over 750 miles of hiking trails. Not only can you bird-watch, hike, and camp but also swim in one of the many swimming spots. Follow along to discover the 5 best Yosemite swimming holes and more about the national park.

About Yosemite National Park

Ellery Lake, set in the upper Lee Vining Canyon,few miles from Yosemite National Parks east entrance. Ellery Lake offers beautiful Alpine scenery,great fighing and camping.

Yosemite National Park was established on October 1, 1890.

©Mara Phraner/

Yosemite National Park is a large and popular national park in California. The surface area is 759,620 acres. As a national park, Yosemite has a long history. It was established on October 1, 1890. This park’s natural beauty is so stunning that about 3.3 million people visit from all over the world each year.

There is a lot to do and see in Yosemite National Park. For instance, you can take a day to hike, camp, raft, climb, and star gaze at night. Some of the most iconic points in the national park include Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, Mariposa Grove, Mist Trail, and Clouds Rest.

The Best Yosemite Swimming Holes

One of the best things to do while visiting Yosemite National Park is to swim! However, always look at the website for closures. Swimming is a great summer activity, but it’s not recommended in winter or early spring as Yosemite receives snow and as the snow melts, it can be dangerous. This shouldn’t scare you though, just take caution while swimming in Yosemite. Keep reading to discover the 5 best Yosemite swimming holes.

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake was created by the Tenaya Glacier.

© Jordan

The first swimming hole on our list is Tenaya Lake. It’s a stunning alpine lake in Mariposa County, California. This lake sits at an elevation of 8,150 feet. It was created by the Tenaya Glacier, which interestingly also created the Half Dome, a massive rock formation in Yosemite. Swimming is permitted, but it’s important to know that the water is very cold. Apart from swimming, you can also hike, canoe, and sail.

However, motorized boats are not allowed. To get to Tenaya Lake, you need to take Tioga Pass Road. This road is closed during winter because of heavy snow and ice.

Fish Camp Falls

Are you ready for a hidden gem? Fish Camp Falls is a beautiful and secret swimming spot near the national park. This beautiful swimming spot is in Madera County, California, and sits at an elevation of 5,400 feet. Fish Camp Falls is found by walking a trail, which leads to an abandoned wooden cabin. Walking further, you can find two swimming holes, Arrowhead and Skinny Dip. In total, it’s about a 2.5-mile hike. In Fish Camp, you can find other scenic and peaceful waterfalls like Red Rock Falls.

Cathedral Lakes

The next best Yosemite swimming hole is the Cathedral Lakes. Technically, the Cathedral Lakes are two lakes, not just one. Swimming in the Cathedral Lakes is a great way to beat the heat, but only go during late summer if you’re looking to swim. If not, the water may be too cold or even icy. The Cathedral Lakes are in Mariposa County near Cathedral Peak and Tenaya Lake. Even if you don’t like visiting, hiking to the lakes is worth the stunning views. Surrounding the lakes are mountains that reflect in the water.

Housekeeping Camp Beaches

River view from housekeeping camp in Yosemite Valley.

The Housekeeping Camp is on Merced River.

©Zubair imagery/

Another great Yosemite swimming hole is in Housekeeping Camp, an inexpensive lodging. It’s a great way to stay in Yosemite National Park with nearby sandy beaches. You can relax on the river and soak in the sun while visiting the Housekeeping Camp beaches. This camp is on Merced River.

Lake Eleanor Reservoir

The next Yosemite swimming hole on our list is the Lake Eleanor Reservoir, also just called Lake Eleanor. This lake is in Tuolumne County, California. It sits at an elevation of 4,657 feet and has a surface area of 953 acres. This beautiful lake is crystal clear, cool, and peaceful. It’s a great place to soak in the sun and also hike! There are many hiking trails around Lake Eleanor. To reach the lake, you need to hike a trail from the Cherry Lake Dam. Lake Eleanor is wonderful for a day trip. You can hike from the lake to Miguel Meadow. Visitors can also spend the day fishing from the shore or on a canoe. Rainbow and brown trout are abundant. You also have a chance of seeing wildlife like black bears and bald eagles.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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