During the summertime in most parts of the U.S., the weather is HOT! Sure, swimming pools will do the job, but getting chlorine in your eyes can be a total bummer. Plus, public pools tend to look the same, are super crowded, and full of kids that may or may not be using the water as a toilet. Yuck! And let’s face it, summer is all about adventure, road trips, and making new discoveries. Driving to a public pool or swimming in the backyard doesn’t really check these summertime boxes, does it?
Instead, grab your towel, hop in the car, and take a road trip to some of the best natural swimming holes in the U.S. You might be surprised by how many there are. These natural swimming holes are gorgeous, have ridiculously clear and clean water, and are often surrounded by woodlands, waterfalls, and gorgeous natural scenery. What could be better than swimming in pools made by mother nature?
Some of these natural swimming holes require you to hike to them, others are so exclusive that you’ll need reservations. One of these pools must be entered by an underground tunnel, and another is so warm that it feels like a hot tub. Listen, summer won’t last much longer, so this is the best time to uncover some of nature’s most refreshing swimming holes in the USA. Happy swimming!
21 Hamilton Pool, Texas
This may be one of the most popular natural swimming holes in the USA. You may have even seen photos. It’s a natural reserve just outside of Austin, and it’s located in a canyon. A waterfall feeds into the pool so visitors can get a natural shower after taking a swim. The pool itself is like a clear, blue grotto, that may even make you feel like royalty. This swimming hole was formed after the dome of an underground river caved in on itself. And the result has been pretty epic. There’s plenty of opportunity for hiking around the canyon, swimming and having a picnic. Hamilton Pool is now reservation only, and each car must pay a fee. Make sure to book early because this place is in high demand.
20 Homestead Caldera, Utah
Want to find some Instagram gold? Homestead Caldera is it. You may have seen photos of this in your feed already because it’s so stunning that people can’t resist snapping a shot. It’s located on private property and family-owned, but visitors can pay to visit. This geothermal spring is hidden inside a cone-shaped limestone formation and is endlessly blue. The heated water can be found two miles below the Earth’s surface and is reached by a tunnel in the rock wall. Visitors can soak in the waters, which stay at about 90-96 degrees all year. There have been SUP yoga classes inside too. So look into this option if you’re a yogi!
19 Blue Hole, Texas
Located in the Texas Hill Country outside of Austin, Blue Hole is a family favorite. This natural swimming hole is beautifully blue and runs vertically to the land. It’s surrounded by trees on each side, many of which are coming out right from the water. Two of the trees are equipped with a metal ‘rope’ swing, so kids and adults can be seen jumping in all day long. The land was saved from residential development and is now a park. If you aren’t swimming, floating in your inner tube, or sunbathing on the grass, you can hike one of the nearby trails. Make sure to reserve a spot before showing up, especially during the busy summer season. The water is cold but it feels amazing in the Texas heat.
18 Mooney Falls, Arizona
Mooney Falls is located on the Havasupai Reservation in Arizona. Visitors love this spot because of its stunning waterfall. However, it can be a bit treacherous to reach, so make sure you’re fit enough to climb. There’s a hike leading up to the falls as well, so be prepared to walk. There will also be a steep cliffside to climb down, as well as some tunnels. While it does sound a little scary, this swimming hole is definitely worth it. Plus, the landscape is everything you could want from rugged Arizona. It’s a true beauty so bring a waterproof camera because you’re going to want to capture the moment for sure.
17 Barton Springs, Texas
This is one of the top attractions in Austin. And, it happens to be all natural (mostly.) This city swimming hole is fed by natural springs. However, it looks similar to a man-made swimming pool since the city has built infrastructure around it. It’s about the size of a football field, has a diving board, and a shallow end for kids. Sometimes you’ll see the occasional turtle sunning itself on a nearby rock too. On either side of the crisp water are hills of grass, these are the perfect spots for laying out and getting a tan. Don’t pack a picnic though, because no eating is allowed once you’re inside.
16 Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
Ok, you might want to save Chena hot springs for a winter road trip instead of summer. This way, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the snow-studded, Alaskan scenery while staying warm. It was founded by a duo of coal miners over 100 years ago and has been visited ever since. The water is said to hold lots of minerals with healing properties, so a soak here is like a day at the spa. After taking some time for a swim, make sure to explore the surrounding area which is great for camping, hiking, and canoeing.
15 Jacob’s Well, Texas
Texas makes it way on the list yet again with Jacob’s Well. This natural swimming hole is said to be dangerous, as scuba divers have died to try to get to the bottom of this incredibly deep well. However, if you just want to swim, you don’t have to worried about this natural spot. The Trinity Aquifer supplies the crystal clear water to the spring from 140 feet beneath the ground. Visitors will love that the water is around 68 degrees all year so it won’t be too cold to jump right in. Underneath is an extremely intricate and dangerous cave system, making this spot a bit of a mystery. Make sure to reserve a place before showing up. And, just to be clear, don’t do any diving while you’re here.
14 God’s Bath, California
This swimming hole is just as epic as it sounds. It’s located in northern California and is quite off-the-beaten-path. Some would say that it’s hidden since it takes a bit of effort to get to. You’ll need to use (the provided) ropes to get down steep hills, dodge some poison ivy, and do a bit of hiking. However, the trail is lined with waterfalls, even before you get to the swimming hole. Score! The water is found within a canyon that many visitors will be jumping off of. It comes complete with waterfalls too!
13 Opal Pool, Oregon
This swimming hole can be found outside of Jawbone Flats mining town (which is worth a visit by the way.) The trail to the water starts off pretty boring, with a straightforward gravel road. You’ll cross a bridge over Opal Creek, and this is when things start to get more exciting. Keep going until you stumble across Opal Pool. It’s a stunning color of emerald green, and it’s flanked on both sides by old, towering trees and steep rock walls. When you’re done with your swim, make sure to explore the area. This is one of the most scenic forests in Oregon and makes a great day trip from Portland.
12 Madison Blue Spring, Florida
This picture-perfect swimming hole is located within a lush, Florida forest. It’s a super popular spot for cave diving and swimming. The spring is about 25-feet deep and is fed with crisp, clear, and clean water all day long. It’s about 82 feet wide and is surrounded by pines and hardwoods, creating a beautiful natural scene. This spot is awesome for wildlife viewing, paddling, and hanging out for a picnic. It’s actually been voted one of the top swimming holes in the USA, so you should definitely visit if you’re in the area.
11 Queen’s Bath, Hawaii
You’ll feel like royalty while visiting this Hawaiian swimming hole. This tide pool is located on the island of Kaua’i, and is essentially a sinkhole that is surrounded by volcanic rock. It will take you about ten minutes to hike to the location, but you’ll have stunning sea views along the way. Since it’s connected to the sea, the pool fills up with ocean water as the waves come in. You’ll have a safe haven to soak while getting super close to the wide open sea. Plus, there will be fish and the occasional sea turtle joining you for a swim.
10 Paradise Forks, Arizona
This natural swimming hole can be found in Sycamore Canyon. It’s extremely difficult to get to, but not impossible, especially for those with an adventurous spirit. Experienced rock climbers who feel comfortable repelling down to the water are usually the people who get to experience this natural beauty. The swimming hole has two waterfalls which makes it a true beauty for visitors. Honestly, if you aren’t into roughing it, and you’re no good at mountain climbing, you might want to skip this one. However, if you’re a true outdoorsman (or woman) you might just fall in love with the thrill of reaching this natural pool.
9 Warren Falls, Vermont
Traveling in Vermont during summer? Fantastic! You’ll want to make a pit stop here. This natural pool can be found below the waterfalls and is full of crystal clear water. Most people who visit take some jumps off the cliffs, which can be thrilling, especially since the water is deep enough. If heights aren’t your thing, you can stick to swimming down below. The gorge walls that surround the pool are beautiful, making this a destination for photographers as well as swimmers. Vermont summers don’t last too long, so make sure to hit up this spot before it’s too late.
8 Juniper Springs, Florida
This is one of the oldest and most well-known natural swimming holes on the East Coast. It can be found in Ocala National Forest and is crisp, clean, and a stunning shade of blue. The spring vents can be seen by the bubbles they produce all day long, adding fresh water on a constant basis. The limestone wall around the pool makes it easy for swimmers to get in and out of the water. This recreation area is visited frequently so there are some facilities for picnicking and camping. After taking a dip, make sure to wander around the nearby hiking trails. The whole area is beautiful.
7 Devil’s Pool, Pennsylvania
Devil’s Pool is located in Wissahickon Park, right on the outskirts of Philadelphia. It’s a fan favorite during the summer but is often considered dangerous. People are warned not to swim here, but if you pass by on the nearby hiking trail, you’ll see tons of people. There are families, colorful inner tubes, and people jumping off the rock walls. There’s a small waterfall and a rope swing so people are always having fun, staying active, and staying cool during Philly’s ridiculously hot and humid summers.
6 Cummins Falls, Tennessee
This swimming hole is located in Cummins Falls State Park. It’s a popular swimming destination for travelers, but especially tourists. It has the eighth highest waterfall in Tennessee and is surrounded by hiking trails and picnicking spots. The pool is surrounded by tiered rocks that have various waterfalls running into the main swimming area. Visitors can be seen climbing up the tiers, taking a bath under the waterfalls, or just lounging on one of the rocks. It’s a fun place to climb around, relax, and cool off during the hot, southern summers.
5 Havasu Falls, Arizona
In order to get to Havasu Falls, you’ll need to get a permit, which proves to be very difficult for travelers. This site is so beautiful, and so epic, that it’s often booked up for months. It’s located on Reservation land in the Grand Canyon and is a staggering turquoise blue. This swimming hole is fed by a waterfall, making the water crisp, clean, and clear. It’s definitely a journey to reach Havasu Falls, so if you manage to get a permit, make sure that you’re up for a 10-mile hike before even reaching the water. After all that time hiking in the dry, Arizona heat, you’ll be happy to jump right in. This is one of the most sought-after natural swimming holes in the entire country. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a camera. It’s beautiful!
4 Sliding Rock, North Carolina
This is more than just a natural swimming hole. Sliding Rock is like a natural water park. Locals have been coming here for years to slide down the slippery rocks into the cool, crisp water. It’s technically a waterfall, but it isn’t steep, so kids and adults can slide right down it into the pool of water. It’s located quite close to Asheville, so it’s a great day trip if you’re visiting this city during the warmer months. 11,000 thousand gallons of water flow down this flat, 60-foot slope, so you’ll always have a great time while staying cool!
3 Wekiwa Springs, Florida
Located in Orange County, Florida, these springs are one of the oldest attractions in the area. In fact, they’ve been around since the mid-nineteenth century, keeping visitors cool during the hot, Florida summers. The emerald green springs are only a few minutes from downtown Orlando, making this a great getaway when you just want to experience some nature. It’s a great spot for wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing, or kayaking. Make sure to visit if you are spending some time at Disney. It’s a great way to uncover the natural, Florida landscape that is often missed while exploring the amusement parks.
2 Redfish Lake, Idaho
Located in Idaho, this swimming spot isn’t exactly a hole. But, it still made the list because you can swim here and it’s totally stunning! The views of the Sawtooth Mountain range are absolutely stunning, and they are reflected perfectly in the water. It’s essentially a gem in the backcountry and it’s full of beautiful birds like falcons and warblers. The water is pristine but used to turn red due to the huge population of sockeye salmon. This is where it got its name, but the spawning salmon are no longer there in such great quantities. The lake is nearly five miles long and has lots of opportunities for activities besides swimming.