Have waterfall, will hike. That’s the mantra for waterfall chasers everywhere, with these natural wonders providing the most alluring carrot at the end of a difficult trek. So a waterfall wherein one can actually swim? That’s next-level, and certainly a bucket-list-worthy adventure. Happily, there are wondrous waterfall swimming holes all across the country that offer this experience, though to call them “swimming holes” is a bit misleading. These aren’t your typical watering holes; but rather, stunning cerulean-blue pools with sublimely cold waters offering a real-life oasis for adventurers willing to take the plunge. And we guarantee that once you encounter these waterfall swimming pools, you’ll most certainly want to take the plunge.
1. Toketee Falls - Oregon
Toketee Falls, OR 97447, USA
First up on our list of the best waterfalls you can swim in the USA is a wonder of intense grace and grandeur.
is located on the North Umpqua River in the Umpqua National Forest, carved through ancient black basalt adorned with emerald-green leaves. The falls themselves feature a 28-foot upper tier that plunges into a pool flanked by a deep alcove, followed by an 85-foot plunge where the water pours endlessly into a large pool. The entire scene unfolds in something of a dream sequence; and accessing this enchanting oasis requires a quick-and-easy hike that’s less than a mile long, round trip. After just about half a mile, you'll reach the observation platform, which offers stunning views of Toketee, the Chinook word for "graceful." And indeed, when you take the plunge into the cool and refreshing waters of the falls, you'll be awestruck by the grace and grandeur of these harmonious cascades.
2. Carlon Falls - California
Carlon Falls, Old Big Oak Flat Rd, Groveland, CA 95321, USA
For those willing to venture
over the (proverbial) river and through the woods
is a marvelous reward for your efforts. One of California's most glorious hidden gems, to get to Carlon Falls, you’ll take a path located along the south fork of the Tuolumne River. The trail leads you to a waterfall with an accompanying swimming area that is open year-round and truly a real-life oasis. Water flows into a refreshing pool that sits surrounded by soaring ponderosa pines and meadows of purple lupine and golden sunflowers, creating a scene straight out of a fantasy. People say it's as close to Heaven as it gets, and once you visit this glorious waterfall swimming hole for yourself, you'll wholeheartedly agree.
3. Firehole River Thermal Swimming Area - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Firehole River, Wyoming 82190, USA
Within the wondrous wilds of Wyoming's Yellow National Park,
Firehole River Thermal Swimming Area
is a vision of breathtaking beauty. This clear-blue swimming hole is a resplendent place to spend a few blissful hours soaking following an intense hike in the acclaimed national park. The water consists of small cascades and rapids flowing into a deeper section, as well as shallow sections outside of the current. As its name suggests, the waters of Firehole River are actually warm; the swimming area is fed by thermal activity below the surface. But after a day on the trails, with tired and achy muscles, there's nothing better than soaking in the healing waters of this wholly unique and wondrous Wyoming river.
4. Havasu Falls - Arizona
Havasu Falls, Arizona, USA
Located in the arid Arizona desert, within the red, rocky walls of the Grand Canyon, you'll find a
pristine oasis with clear, azure waters and an abundant, rushing waterfall
. While the Grand Canyon gets all the credit in terms of Arizona's most spectacular natural wonders, Havasu Falls is a showstopper and very popular hippie hole in Arizona. Right next to Grand Canyon National Park, the falls are located at the base of Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Havasu Falls is just under 100 feet tall and its powerful cascade spills into its iconic aquamarine waters -- caused by a series of chemical reactions -- below. It's one of the most startlingly sublime natural spectacles in the country; an experience to which pictures simply cannot do justice.
5. Hamilton Pool Preserve - Texas
Hamilton Pool, Texas 78620, USA
One of the most beautiful places in Texas (and the country),
features a cerulean blue pool located beneath an expansive limestone grotto. A 50-foot waterfall flows into the pool, making for a completely enchanting experience that's truly too beautiful to be real. This place of pure fantasy formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion; today, it's a popular swimming hole for Texans looking for their very own summertime oasis. For the best waterfall swimming experience, visit after a healthy rain!
6. Blanchard Springs - Arkansas
Blanchard Springs Caverns, 704 Blanchard Springs Road, Fifty-Six, AR 72533, USA
While Blanchard Springs is best known for its caves, they're not the only natural wonder hiding in this Arkansas treasure. Just beyond the cave's exit, there is a woodland trail leading to a marvelous waterfall swimming pool. The
is accessible and family-friendly, and leads to the shockingly blue Mirror Lake, created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lake is spring-fed and is perfect for trout fishing -- and swimming. Whether you visit for the water recreation or just to take a couple of photos, the gorgeous reflections on the lake will instantly make you feel calm. The blue water spills over into Mirror Lake Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in the state, and the perfect respite from the sweltering Arkansas heat.
7. Little River Canyon National Preserve - Alabama
Little River Canyon National Preserve, 4322 Little River Trail #100, Fort Payne, AL 35967, USA
Often touted as the
most beautiful place in Alabama
, Little River Canyon is one of those places that you simply must see to believe. The crown jewel of this 15,000-acre preserve is the eponymous Little River Canyon, which is best known as the "Grand Canyon of the East." It's one of Alabama's top outdoor attractions and is home to seemingly endless natural splendor, including Little River Falls. Considered one of the Southeast's most beautiful waterfalls, this popular waterfall pool is a perennial favorite for Alabamans, with the river's Hippie Hole its most popular swimming hole. Crowds of people flock here each summer to beat the heat, but this waterfall pool is so pristine, it's definitely worth braving the crowds to experience!
8. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park - Missouri
Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, 148 Taum Sauk Trail, Middle Brook, MO 63656, USA
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
is the crown jewel of the Show-Me State's parks, offering 8,781 acres of magnificent Midwest beauty. Opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation abound at Johnson's Shut-In State Park, but there's added incentive to visit during the summer, in the form of an epic natural waterslide. The park's titular shut-ins are a popular destination for Missourians who want to cool down – by slipping down the natural waterslides and relaxing by the waterfalls – during the summertime. But really, no matter what time of the year you visit, you don’t want to miss the shut-ins. Even if you’re just admiring the gushing water, as it's surrounded by fall foliage or frozen in the winter, you’ll be bedazzled by the sheer natural beauty.
9. Bridal Veil Falls - Georgia
Bridal Veil Falls, Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail, Tallulah Falls, GA 30573, USA
Natural waterfalls aren’t too hard to come by in Georgia, but what about a natural
? Why, that's a horse of a different color, and exactly what you'll find at
. Within this Peach State paradise, Bridal Veil Falls is a natural waterfall waterslide that, while it might take a little bit of planning (including a Gorge Floor Pass) and some patience to access, is absolutely worth the effort. A three-mile hike later, you'll reach your destination: a thrilling, fast-paced, smooth-and-slick, 30-foot natural waterslide in Georgia that will dunk you into the deep pool below. This is the kind of place sure to bring out the kid in everyone, which, if you ask us, is exactly the kind of unbridled joy and wonder we could all use a bit more of.
10. Sliding Rock - North Carolina
Sliding Rock, North Carolina 28768, USA
A beautiful oasis complete with cascading waterfalls and a natural waterslide, the aptly-named
Sliding Rock in North Carolina
is a rite of passage for all self-described waterfall chasers. Because not only is Sliding Rock a 60-foot thrill that rivals any man-made attractions, but it's found very near to another popular waterfall, Looking Glass Falls, and is powered by the flow of Looking Glass Creek. In other words, Sliding Rock is the kind of epic, all-day waterfall-chasing adventure we live for, and swimming, sliding, and splashing in this waterfall wonderland is absolutely an experience for your bucket list.
11. Cummins Falls - Tennessee
Cummins Falls, Tennessee 38501, USA
In terms of amazing waterfall swimming holes in the U.S.,
is certainly no secret, but there's a reason it's Tennessee's most popular cascade. You'll find the 75-foot falls located in Cummins Falls State Park in Tennessee, and you'll need to lace up your boots for a short, but rugged, hike to this wonder. The scene that awaits is straight from a fantasy: the waterfall (one of the tallest in Tennessee) plunges over a rocky cliffside to the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River below. Such a sublime scene comes with a price, however; as one of the top 10 waterfall swimming holes in the country, Cummins Falls can get quite crowded on a hot summer day in the South. But you'll be so awestruck by this unbelievably beautiful scene, you surely won't mind the crowds.
12. Warren Falls - Vermont
Warren Falls, 3919 Vermont Rte 100, Warren, VT 05674, USA
With a waterfall swimming hole and natural waterslide,
is the perfect way to spend a warm summer day in the Northeast. Known for its enchanting emerald hue, Warren Falls, with its abundant pools and tiered cascades, really is the Platonic ideal of waterfall swimming holes. And with lots of places to explore and splash about, you're sure to find your very own oasis in this Vermont paradise.
13. Diana's Baths - New Hampshire
Dianas Baths, Bartlett, NH 03812, USA
Located in the small town of Bartlett, New Hampshire, in the White Mountains,
is a series of small waterfalls and natural pools located along a scenic 1.3-mile trail accessible to most hikers. Along the way, you'll pass beautiful waterfall upon beautiful waterfall, punctuated by brilliant bathing pools that feel incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating. The waterfalls at Diana's Baths reach as high as 75 feet, making for a commanding scene more wondrous with each and every step. This Northeast waterfall swimming hole reflects its natural surroundings, framed by verdant forests, cobalt skies, and stark granite rocks, making for an incredible experience you can only have in New Hampshire.
There’s nothing quite like Mother Nature’s glorious cascades, and we guarantee that these waterfall swimming holes will surely ignite your waterfall-chasing wanderlust in the very best and most delightful way.
Have you ever been to any of these waterfall swimming holes? If so, which ones were your favorites? Would you agree that they are among the best USA swimming holes? We’d love to read about your experience in the comments section below!
If you’re still in the mood for more across-America adventures, take a look at this video:
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More to Explore
More adventures across America
Where can we find national parks in the U.S.?
The Fort Point National Historic Site in San Francisco, California played a major role in defending the San Francisco Bay beginning with the Gold Rush-era right up through World War II.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has been named the 10th most beautiful park in the world.
Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States.
Read on to learn about some of the many other amazing
national parks in the U.S.
What the some of the biggest cities in the U.S. ?
New York City, NY — known as the Big Apple — is by far the biggest city in the country with an estimated 8.6 million people.
Phoenix, AZ – known as The Valley of the Sun – ranks fifth in the nation with a population of approximately 1.7 million people.
San Jose, CA - named after el Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, which means the Town of Saint Joseph of Guadalupe in Spanish, has a population of just over 1 million people.
Read on to learn about some of the other
biggest cities in the U.S.
Where can we find major historical sites in the U.S. ?
The White House in Washington, D.C. is not only the home of any current sitting president, but a wealth of history dating back to 1792 when construction first began.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA is where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Site in Atlanta, GA encompasses several entities related to the life and work of the famous civil rights leader, including his birth home.
Read on to learn about some of the many other
major historical sites in the U.S.