Healthy Outdoor Living

Ten Best Swimming Holes to Visit this Summer

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter April / May Outdoor Living Newsletter

It's almost summer once again, and what better way to beat the heat than cooling off in an old-fashioned swimming hole on your next RV trip? These natural pools let you relive your childhood days of cannonballing into the refreshing water amidst a breathtaking view and a sense of quiet and calm you won't find in many public pools today.

From California to New York, we've put together the best swimming holes to choose from for your summer camping trip listed by state.

1.  Little River Canyon (Alabama)

Tucked away in the northeastern part of Alabama, this is a 12-mile long canyon bordered by broad-faced cliffs and large blocks of sandstone is home to a handful of secluded swimming holes continuously filled by the Little River Falls. The most visited of these is Hippy Hole, which is located three-quarters of a mile down from Eberthart Point. Here, you can find rope swings dangling from trees and cliffs to serve as springboards for those looking for a bit of adrenaline rush.

Directions: Little River Falls is located off Highway 35 next to the bridge in Gaylesville, Alabama.

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2.  Havasu Falls (Arizona)

Located just a mile and a half from the Havasupai Indian Village on the bottom of the majestic Grand Canyon, the turquoise-colored waters of Havasu Falls are accentuated by the sunburnt-colored rock face of the Canyon, making this as breathtaking as its waters are refreshing. The best way get here is by driving (4x4 is highly recommended) and then hiking 1.5 miles down to Supai. From here its an easy walk to the falls. You can also take 3-day mule assisted tour in which the mules carry all your gear so you can hike comfortably down. This swimming hole is a perfect retreat for those looking for a relaxing and serene summer destination.

Information about Camping and Tours near Supai.

3.  Aztec Falls (California)

Located in San Bernardino National Forest, serious cliff jumpers head to this swimming hole to dive off the 30 to 60 foot ledges. It is surrounded by smooth rock and rich green conifers. It is located on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Directions: Take the 210 east to the 18 north for 18 miles to reach Crest Park. Drive 3.1 miles north on State Road 173 through Lake Arrowhead to Hook Creek Road. Travel 3 miles east on Hook Creek, then bear left a short distance on Squint Ranch Road to a right-handed descent leads 0.45 miles to Splinter's Cabin and access the Pacific Crest Trail. Hike 0.4 miles downstream on the trail to find some spray-painted trees on the right. This is the trail spur that leads to the swimming hole.

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4.  Carlon Falls (California)

The swimming hole below Carlon Falls is one of Yosemite National Park's hidden jewels. Surrounded by towering ponderosa pines, purple lupine meadows and sunflowers, the swimming hole is a two-mile hike from Evergreen Road along the South Fork Tuolumne River. One of the best things about this swimming hole is that it is one of the few that you can enjoy all-year round, so you don't have to wait for summer to schedule a camping trip here.

Directions: From the Big Oak Flat Entrance, drive a mile north on Hwy 120 to the signed turnoff to Mather and Hetchy Hetchy on Evergreen Road. About a mile along Evergreen Road, look for a pullout on the north side of the bridge near the Carlon Day Use Area sign. This pullout is where the Carlon Falls Trail begins.

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5.  Johnson's Shut-Ins (Missouri)

Hailed as Missouri's unofficial state water park, Johnson's Shut-Ins are a series of small pools strewn throughout the East Fork of the Black River, which were created when areas of the river where blocked by smooth volcanic stones formed millions of years ago. It is one of the most popular spots within the Ozark Mountains so expect to share the swimming holes with a lot of other people.

Directions: Hike down the Shut-Ins trail 0.3 miles to find an observation platform over the flowing waters of Shut-Ins.

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6.  Emerald Pool (New Hampshire)

Right on the border of Maine and New Hampshire, Emerald Pool is and great place swimming experience and summer getaway. What draws many visitors to this hot spot is the nice plunge into the large green pools that sit between the large jagged rocks. When first see it, your instinct will be to jump in immediately.

Directions: Take the Baldface Circle Trail from Route 113. The hike is about as easy as they come, and takes about 15 minutes to get to Emerald Pool.

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7.  Peekamoose Blue Hole (New York)

If you're looking for a swimming hole that has a romantic atmosphere and privacy, then this is the place for you. Located right in the heart of the Catskills Forest, Peekamoose Blue Hole is shaded by tall trees lending a bit of shade from the hot summer sun. Summer ropes can be found over the deepest part of the swimming hole where you can cannonball into the cool waters. Perfect for rowdy groups of people and couples looking for a romantic getaway while on their camping trip.

Directions: From Kingston, go west on RT 28. Pass the left turn for Route 28A. Go another 10 miles. Then in Boiceville, go left on RT 28A about 2 miles to West Shokan. Then at the intersection of RT 28A and RT 42 in West Shokan is a series of hanging wooden signs; the top one says "Town Offices", the bottom one says "Sundown". Turn right (southwest) on county RT 42, toward Sundown. Go about 10 miles on RT 42 until you see a large parking area on the right with a sign for the Peekamoose Mountain area. Park here and cross the road to the creek and walk back the way you came a short distance then down a short path to the creek. The swimming hole is here.

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8.   Sliding Rock (North Carolina)

Smoothen by the rushing waters, this 60-foot boulder located in the heart Pisgah National Forest is a natural water slide offering hours of fun for the whole family. If you should choose to visit this swimming hole on your next RV trip, make sure to bring an old pair of shorts to protect your legs (and swimsuit) from getting snagged on the bumps on the surface of the rock. It is very popular so be prepared to share!

Directions: From the intersections of US 276 and US 64 in Pisgah National Forest, NC, go about eight miles north on US 276 toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. You Will pass Looking Glass falls on the right after five miles. Look for signs directing you to the Sliding Rock recreation area with a parking lot on the left.

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9.  Cummins Falls (Tennessee)

Halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, the waters of Cummins Falls cascades down 50 feet of a natural staircase of wide smooth rocks, ending in a cool and inviting swimming hole. It is truly a sight to behold, but be careful! The smooth rocks can be quite slippery, so make sure to firmly hold on the rope guide as you make your way down the swimming hole.

Directions: From Interstate 40 exit 286 and go north on South Willow/TN 135 for 3.2 miles. Turn left at TN 290W/West 12th St. and continue 7.4 miles to follow Gainesboro Grade. Turn right on Cummins Mill Road. Go 2.9 miles to Blackburn Fork Road, turn left and then look for a gate on your left to enter.

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10.   Hamilton Pool Preserve (Texas)

The Hamilton Pool Preserve is a one of the best swimming holes in all of Texas. It's a great place to swim, picnic, and spend some quality time in the hot Texas summers. The pool was formed when the dome of an underground river collapse due to constant erosion thousands of years ago. Hamilton creek now spills out over a limestone outcropping to create a 50 foot waterfall that plunges into the pool. The parking lot can fit up to 75 vehicles and it is an easy hike from there. The preserve is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm daily.

Directions: Hamilton Pool is approximately 30 miles southwest of Austin. Take Highway 71 west of Austin through the town of Bee Cave and turn left onto FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road). Travel 13 miles to the Preserve entrance, on your right.

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