The soaring temperatures across the nation have prompted us to seek advice from travel experts on local swimming spots. Join us in exploring the top small-town swimming holes for a refreshing escape from the late summer heat.
Castle Hot Springs – Arizona
You might think that going to hot springs in the desert isn’t a good way to beat the heat, but wait until you hear the description from Visit Phoenix’s Lily Presson, and don’t worry- it’s a dry heat:
Following a dusty dirt road, you will find the lush and magical oasis of Travel + Leisure’s 2022 World’s Best Award winner: Castle Hot Springs. Whether you’re looking to unwind in the hot springs or go on an adventure in the Sonoran Desert, this inclusive experience takes you on a memorable journey, and you’ll leave feeling better than when you arrived.
Tucked away in the heart of the Bradshaw Mountains, Castle Hot Springs gives you access to some of the most beautiful parts of the Sonoran Desert. As one of the few registered Dark Sky locations in the country, Castle Hot Springs’ unique location gives you a glimpse at the galaxy few ever experience. Starting as rain, seeping through the underground cracks while being warmed by the Earth and soaking in a unique mineral blend, the three naturally heated swimming holes are a hotspot for healing and relaxation. For centuries, people have sought out hot springs for bathing, healing, socializing and spiritual intentions. The unique water is particularly rich in lithium, magnesium, and bicarbonates, which help lift your mood, calm your mind, and ease aching joints and muscles.
Carrigan Farms – North Carolina
Suzanne Brown from Visit North Carolina recommends Carrigan Farms for visitors to the Tar Heel State:
This fifth-generation farm is home to more than you-pick fruits and vegetables — specifically a 25-foot-deep quarry that hosts summer swims. Surrounded by rocky cliffs, the swimming hole is fed by water from a natural spring that refreshes those who take the plunge from the rocks or use the rope swing to make a grand entrance. Lifeguards are on duty, and reservations are strongly recommended.
And if you work up an appetite, feast on seasonal favorites and other fare at the on-site farm-to-table restaurant. Draft beer and wine are also available. Other activities: catch-and-release fishing on a pond (bring your own gear) and sunflower photo sessions.
Puu Kaa Falls – Hawaii
Nick Mueller from HawaiianIslands.com offers this beautiful swimming hole from the Aloha State:
Puu Kaa Falls is in a tropical rainforest and offers a swimming hole at the bottom of the falls. If you want to immerse yourself completely in nature, this waterfall and swimming hole is the perfect option. You can even go behind the waterfall for a picturesque view of the water. It also is a great way to cool down in the summer heat.
Puu Kaa Falls is in the Puu Kaa State Park off Hana Highway. Hawaii offers several other swimming holes like Waioka Pond or Twin Falls. The Road to Hana may take a while, but you’re bound to enjoy the scenic views and refreshing water.
Balmorhea Swimming Hole – Texas
Ky Harkey, Chief Adventurer with Lone Star Parks, recommends Balmorhea Swimming Hole:
Balmorhea State Park, in the desert landscape of West Texas, is the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. The crystal clear, cool waters gushing from the San Solomon Springs have been an oasis gathering humans for 11,000 years. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the historic structures visitors still enjoy today. Swimmers at Balmorhea enjoy 1.3 acres of pool access as deep as 25 feet in some spots. With abundant aquatic life, including the endangered desert pupfish and Comanche Springs pupfish, Balmorhea is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. All of this was found unexpectedly off I-10 in an otherwise barren landscape of West Texas.
The Sinks – Tennessee
Jasmin Diaz from smokymountains.com suggests The Sinks in Great Smokey National Park:
The Sinks, located in the Smoky Mountains. It is a roadside stop that offers incredible views of a waterfall. This makes The Sinks one of the most picturesque spots along the Little River. This natural pool is outlined by humongous river boulders that are tempting to jump off of. However, we strongly advise not to do so because of the strong undertow and currents that can form in the deeper areas of this swimming hole. Other than that, this is a popular swimming hole during the summer and can be a great activity enjoyed by the whole family.
Blue Hole – Texas
Jeremiah Shaw, CEO of Running Wilder, has not one but two recommendations. His first is Blue Hole in Wimberley, Texas:
This swimming hole is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The crystal clear, cool water is fed by natural springs, making it the perfect spot to cool off during the hot summer months. Blue Hole is surrounded by 126 acres of natural forests and native plants, making it not just a swimming hole but a nature lover’s paradise.
Sliding Rock – North Carolina
Jeremiah’s second suggestion is Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina:
This natural water slide is a 60-foot flat, smooth boulder in a well-loved creek, where thousands of children and adults alike go to slide down the rock into the eight-foot-deep pool below. The water is chilly, but it’s the perfect way to cool off in the summer heat.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park – Missouri
Joel Efosa, the CEO of Fire Cash Buyers, has traveled the country looking for fire-damaged property and shares his favorite hometown swimming hole:
A fantastic swimming hole that I’ve come across in my travels is Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri. This natural water park is formed by the Black River, which has carved out chutes, pools, and waterfalls in hard volcanic rock. The shut-ins are a great place to swim, slide, and jump into the cool, clear water. The surrounding park also offers camping, hiking, and picnicking, making it a great destination for a summer getaway.
Greenbrier Valley – West Virginia
Valerie Pritt from the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends the Greenbrier Valley for travelers looking to beat the summer heat:
Here in the Greenbrier Valley, we have some great swimming holes along the Greenbrier River and Anthony Creek. With clear, cool water flowing along some of our best trails, it’s easy to dive in on a hot day. Along the Greenbrier River Trail, hikers and bikers have been known to make a pitstop to dip their toes in the river. About two miles from the Caldwell trailhead, a large rock hugs the side of the river bank providing a perfect spot to sunbathe, dangle your toes in the water or take the plunge and enjoy the water.
Wrapping Up the Best Small Town Swimming Holes
These are only a small sample of the fantastic swimming holes in America! Let us know if you’ve been to one of these locations or have a local favorite you want us to know about.
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