The 10 Best Secret Swimming Holes

Published on 08/31/2012

by Shelby Trueax

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  • Havasu Falls, AZ

    Looking to beat the heat and crowds for a day or two? Find your inner cliff-jumper and adventure out to the best (somewhat) secret swimming holes the U.S. has to offer. Oh, and feel free to “forget” your swimsuit, skinny-dipping is encouraged for all you active junkies.

  • Screw Auger Falls, ME

    This hole is somewhat responsible for Gulf Hagus’s nickname “The Grand Canyon of the East”, and as you can see, it’s no lie. This beautiful landscape provides several unfamiliar waterfalls and swimming holes, and even a historic glimpse of the Appalachian Trail!

  • Paradise Cove, CO

    A cliff-jumping haven for those of every level of adventurous, from 16 to 100 feet, this hole is super-deep, so good luck touching the bottom. Once again, hot sun and cold water make for a match made in heaven in this isolated spot. Insider Tip: visit Garden of the Gods on the way out for a stellar hike post-swim.

  • Candy Rock, CA

    All it takes is a short, easy hike and a little heat tolerance and suddenly you’re at one of the most perfect swimming holes in CA. Candy Rock may be the most naturally luxurious spot in the Turtle River Falls area, with natural lounging spots and a swimming hole to die for.

  • Photo Credit: TIMOTHY H. JOYCE

    Yosemite Creek, CA

    This swimming hole embodies America’s beauty, surrounded by Yosemite National Park. The water is like glass in this perfect triangle, and the view of the mountains is nothing short of incredible. With several sand spots to lounge, and a nice-n-low rock for jumping, you can’t go wrong in Yosemite Creek on a hot summer day.

  • Salome Canyon, AZ

    Get your feet off the ground and plunging off a 30-foot cliff into the cool, deep water of Salome Canyon. That leap of faith occurs at the end of your half-mile journey through a series of pools in the Salome Wilderness. Be warned, once you’re in, there is no looking back; there’s no trails near the water and you’re in deep, literally, ‘til you reach the finish line.

  • Peekamoose Blue Hole, Catskills New York

    This extra-deep escape from reality is not only Just-What-the-Doctor-Ordered for a sweltering New York summer; it’s also hours of fun with a secret rope swing for all you daredevils out there. With plenty of shade, you’ll get the most blissful day New York has to offer without the outrageous spa prices.

  • Buttermilk Falls, ME

    The water may be cold, but with the perfect amount of hot summer sun, the refreshing swimming hole beneath Buttermilk Falls presents a heavenly chill. Furthermore, the Pleasant River has carved out one hell of a canyon with three other basins if you’re feeling adventurous (we know you are!)

  • Glen Canyon, UT

    Take your Powell trip to the Glen Canyon Recreation Area this summer for a series of secluded swimming hole ecstasy complete with blue skies, green water, and red-orange rocks. Once you see this stunning sight, you’ll probably never want to leave.

  • Photo Credit: TIMOTHY H. JOYCE

    God's Bath, CA

    This self-explanatory spot in Sonora, CA will have you wondering if you’re still among the living or if you’ve entered an alternate universe. It’s almost unreal how jaw-droppingly gorgeous this swimming hole is. Let’s not forget the good stuff, though; God’s bath is extremely versatile with cliff jumping, waterfalls, snorkeling and sunbathing.

  • Mad River, Waitsfield, VT

    The Mad River includes a swimming hole that’s anything but; rounded boulders, a grassy surrounding, and an inviting leap into the energizing cool waters exemplifies a scene of nothing but happiness. This “not-so-secret” hole may have you running into some crowds, but it’s out-of-the-way enough to remain fairly secluded.

  • Devil's Punchbowl, CO

    Here you will find a series of waterfalls that leads to a deep swimming hole. The water can stay relatively chilly year-round. Enjoy different levels of cliffs jumps and even do a little rock climbing on the walls of the pool. A watering hole that is found in the middle of the mountains is sure to bring you some relaxation. 

  • Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, AZ

    Found in the beautiful town of Sedona, you can spend your day slipping and sliding through rock chutes in shallow water. The rock bed has mellow inclines so you can sit down, give yourself a little push, and let the whitewater do the rest. If you want to explore the park a bit more you can find some pretty scary cliff jumping areas.

  • Roaring Run Falls, Botetourt, VA

    Head into the woods for a short hike and follow the sound of waterfalls. Once you arrive you will have you choice from a few different pools with rocks that you can slide all the way down into the water. Watch your step because these things are slick. 

  • Johnsons Shutins, MO

    Shut-in's occur when boulders block or slow a rivers flow. This maze of rock formations has created tons of individual pools. You can take a dip in a relaxing still water pool or get more of a cold jacuzzi feel with whitewater rushing through. It can get crowded here in the summer so get there early for first pick.

  • Cummins Falls, Cookeville, TN

    This one is straight out of the movies; a backdrop with a crashing waterfall and stair-like steps where other small waterfalls flow. At the bottom, a pool awaits for you to enjoy. A very beautiful setting requires somewhat of a technical approach.  You will first have to hike to the overlook, wade across a stream, and use a rope guide to get yourself to the water. 

  • Image Source Photo Credit: Greg Vaughn

    Seven Sacred Pools, Maui, HI

    You can find this somewhat popular swimming hole off the picturesque Road to Hana. There are waterfalls, over a dozen different swimming holes, and some places for cliff jumping (although there are signs advising against it). Get here early to grab a spot because as the day progresses this dream-like destination on the east side of Maui can get pretty crowded. 

  • Texas Beach, Richmond VA

    During the summer The James River is packed with people trying to take a dip in the water. Texas beach is one of those hidden local spots to stray away from the crowds so you will have to ask for better directions when you get there. There is a nice river beach here that you can sit an enjoy the flowing water or take a turn on the rope swing. Hike in a cooler if you want to spend the day. 

  • Image Source Photo Credit: TIMOTHY H. JOYCE

    Yuba River, CA

    The Yuba River offers many spots along its banks for people to swim. This hidden location will bring you to a mix of boulders and pools to create a unique swimming experience. With the crystal clear water you might even see a fish or two swim underneath your feet.

  • Hamilton Pool Preserve, TX

    Near the town of Austin, this watering hole was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion. Limestone walls surround this Jade green pool, and the roof of the dome is littered in stalactites. 

  • Opal Pool, Willamette National Forest, OR

    Take a 3.5-mile hike through the forest to reach these sparkling pools. The water does not receive a ton of sunlight so you will be glad you worked up a sweat on the way in. Although you would think these waters were named after their color, the pools were actually named after a park ranger’s wife.

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