When it starts to warm up, nothing makes a vacation better than adding some water fun to the mix. Whether a lake, river, beach or waterfall- a wet destination is the best for enjoying natural beauty and cooling off in the hot sun. Explore some of the most stunning U.S. water destinations—here are 8 to get you clamoring for those swim trunks.
Colorado River, Arizona
If you are looking for a white water rafting trip that offers a little bit of everything, including incredible of views of the Grand Canyon, then plan a trip on the Colorado River, offering 226 miles of river that boast rapids ranging from class I-V. Follow this infamous American waterway through desert canyons and stop off for some hiking on the side or enjoy some gourmet food at restaurants located along the river.
Salmon River, Idaho
Another beautiful river with scenery so breathtaking it will engulf your entire being. Located just outside of Alaska, this river flows through the largest stretch of U.S. wilderness with no roads and plentiful wildlife. Jump on the rapids (one of the most popular white water rafting spots in the world) and get your adrenaline pumping.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Ever dreamt of diving in a flooded volcano? You can get your chance at Crater Lake, which also happens to be the deepest scuba diving location in the U.S. Though it is impossible to reach the bottom without a submersible, the shallows are refreshing and easy to navigate with crystal clear water, gently swaying grasses, and curious fishies.
Chain of Lakes, Florida
If water skiing is your jam then head to Winter Haven, the Water Skiing Capital of the World. Get on your skis and start carving that wake—there are 16 deep blue lakes that connect in a chain. Check out some savvy water-ski shows at Cypress Gardens—the first aquatic theme park in the U.S.
Hanalei Beach Kauai, Hawaii
For true tropical bliss, take a trip to Kauai’s north shore, where the living is easy and time slows down. Explore the two-mile stretch of feather soft sand overshadowed by lush Green Mountains and crashing crystal waterfalls. Jump in the waves and try your hand at surfing and body boarding. Finish the day with a short five minute walk to town where there are plenty of shops and local restaurants to check out and enjoy.
The Florida Keys, Florida
Any key will suffice when it comes to experiencing island living at its finest. Plan a trip that takes you through at least a few of the keys to really get a taste of the local vibe. Camp on the beach at Bahia Honda State Park or enjoy a scenic drive along the infamous 7-mile bridge. Spend a night getting rowdy on Key West and enjoy some deep sea fishing, snorkeling and kayaking during the day- the Keys have got it all!
Alamere Falls, California
All you need to picture is this: A towering waterfall that spills onto the sandy beach with the sweet sound of the salty waves crashing nearby. Need I say more? But, there’s a catch—this beautiful sight must be earned. Visitors must endure a challenging 8.5-mile hike through poison oak, along cliffs, and through a stream to get there. Totally worth it.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
You’ll find this natural gem tucked deep within the remote Havasupai Indian Reservation, where turquoise waters tumble over red rocks and travertine stalactites into a glittering pool below. It’s a true desert oasis, and visitors can spend the day admiring the beauty of the falls while taking a dip in the bright emerald waters.
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.