By Courtney Lambert
Summer is here people, it’s time to break out those meticulously sculpted bikini bods and hit the road for beach, beer, sunburn and glory. But, hold it right there amigo- forget beaches filled with sweaty bodies and the 80-year-old men that proudly strut their G-strings. Instead, here’s 10 of America’s finest natural swimming holes to get you diving off canyons, sliding down waterfalls and exploring crystal clear freshwater springs all summer long.
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Dripping Springs, Texas
If you find yourself sweating profusely in Austin, TX this summer, the answer to your woes is Hamilton Pool. Find yourself immersed in the green blue waters of a beautiful natural rock grotto with the comforting sounds of a 50 ft waterfall cascading over slabs of cool limestone. Float on your back and take in the large, jagged stalactites, moss and fern that have blanketed the limestone ceiling for thousands of years. Do you miss the beach yet?
Sliding Rock, Brevard, North Carolina
This popular swimming destination is part of the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, NC offering not only a refreshing dip but also boasts a 60-ft-flat natural rock slide. Skip through lush mountain forest to the top of the falls and zip down the flat surface, ending in an 8 ft deep pool of invigorating spring water.
Diana’s Baths, Bartlett, New Hampshire
Sitting pretty along Lucy Brook, here’s a little gem to remember when you start to that regret that middle of the day hiking trip. This mountain fed swimming delight has got it all- pools of various depths, decorated with enormous boulders and a 75 ft drop of slanted falls dancing over smooth rocks and stones.
Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona
The Grand Canyon can get a little dry and toasty during the long summer months; good thing Havasu Falls is just a hop, skip and jump away. The main chute plummets over deep red rocks 120 ft into a mineral rich turquoise pool of bliss. Leave the floaties at home; the breathtaking beauty of this canyon oasis is all you need.
Ginnie Springs, Florida
Florida is the land of water, and I don’t just mean the beach. Take a dive into one of central Florida’s many fresh water springs- a true fountain of youth. Ginnie Springs is an especially nice little venture, where visitors can float down the Santa Fe River on tubes. The Springs are easily accessible by river, bring your goggles and partake in a little free diving to explore the mystical caves that feed the crystal clear springs.
Johnson’s Shut Ins, Middlebrook, Missouri
Part of the Black River just south of St. Louis, Johnson’s Shut In’s is just that- a cerulean blue pool “shut in” by hard volcanic rock. The outcropping rock forces the river to divide into hundreds of winding chutes, waterfalls and deep/shallow pools…need I say more? Spend the day splashing about like a little kid at Christmas.
Cummins Falls, Cookeville, Tennessee
If you want a challenging trek with a nice reward, check out the 8th largest waterfall in Tennessee. Finding this paradise involves plenty of hiking, wading, climbing and finally- a rope guide to get you down to the water. The reward as mentioned: Shimmering falls plummet into a cool, heavenly abyss below. And just think- the strenuous journey to reach the pool will probably leave the falls a little less crowded.
Travertine Creek, Sulphur, Oklahoma
This multi-faceted creek, located in National Chickasaw National Park, is well known for offering a variety of swimming options, from mineral springs heeded for its medicinal qualities, to waterfalls, streams and tranquil pools perfect for wading.
Homestead Crater, Midway, Utah
It’s like swimming in a beehive- but much better. Impress that special someone with this natural “hot tub” open commercially to swimmers and divers year round. Though commercialized, it is definitely worth checking out just because of how unique it is. This ancient crater creates a sheltered dome that allows the pool to stay at a comfortable 90- 96 degrees year round.
The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, New Mexico
The name is spot on. It’s just a giant, 80 ft deep blue hole, but it’s a swimming and scuba diving dream come true. And at a year round temperature of 64 degrees, you don’t have to wait till summer to wade in these tranquil, cerulean blue waters.