Swimming holes are one of nature’s most enchanting and invigorating destinations. Providing a much-needed escape from crowded beaches and swaths of tourists, the best swimming holes in the U.S. traverse the American wilderness, contain untamed beauty, and will have you coming back for more. Perfect for peaceful retreats or for awakening the adrenaline junkie within us all, the crystal-clear waters of swimming holes have a way of improving our connection with nature.
And this is a good thing for most of us, according to a recent study. The poll of 2,000 Americans found that two in three regret not spending more time outside growing up. The survey finds that most of America’s childhood outdoor experiences came alongside mom and dad (53%) or other relatives like their grandparents (37%). And given that findings from this study reveal that spending time in the natural outdoors will make you happiest, it’s all the more reason to pack your bags and take a trip off the beaten path. The top outdoor activities Americans are eager to try out include boating, hiking, fishing, and camping. Just over one in five respondents are keen to even try horseback riding and surfing.
In all honesty, though. There’s something holistically healing about being with nature. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or to base jump into the unknown depths of the world’s deepest waters, there’s something for everyone in the great outdoors. This is good because an interesting study found that nature sounds can lower stress, decrease pain, and improve our mental health. Scientists say the sounds of water boost positive emotions and health outcomes, while bird sounds combat stress. The new study, which uses recordings from 251 sites across 66 U.S. national parks, reveals the beautiful sounds of nature come with a slew of striking health benefits.
Beyond the health benefits, swimming holes are a wondrous oasis for all to enjoy. For these reasons, we’ll be compiling a list of the best swimming holes in the U.S. So, get your goggles and swimwear ready, we’re about to go on an adventure that will take you coast to coast. Have a favorite swimming hole that didn’t make the list? Feel free to let us know in a comment below!
The List: Best Swimming Holes in the US, Per The Experts
1. Diana’s Bath
Named after the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana’s Bath is perched among the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Surrounded by a cascade of small waterfalls and pools, this swimming hole is a peaceful sanctuary that offers long-lasting tranquility. As Best Life Online says, “Diana’s Bath provides a nice break from New England’s humidity with its cool, crisp waters.” Tucked away in the White Mountain National Park, “the spot entices visitors to take a dip with its 12-foot granite waterfall and various potholes, slides, and plunge pools.” On some weekends, the area can become crowded, but if you “wade upstream, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a secluded space.”
Diana’s Bath is well-known for bringing people closer to nature. Situated outside North Conway, this swimming home is one of New Hampshire’s most beloved hidden gems. “In the summer, Diana’s Bath is a popular spot for families,” says Travel and Leisure. This swimming hole “puts on a fantastic nature show and doesn’t get crowded.”
Surrounded by lush foliage and the soothing sounds of water, Diana’s Bath casts a serene landscape for all who visit. There’s a reason why first-time explorers keep coming back. Perhaps it’s “the soothing sound of a 75-foot waterfall that lures bathers to this swimming hole,” writes Time Out. Or maybe it is due to the “pools’ deep roots with locals dating back centuries.” Once located near a “family-operated sawmill, Diana’s Bath is now considered a historic site and is protected by the US Forest Service.”
2. Peekamoose Blue Hole
Peekamoose Blue Hole is the true hidden gem of New York City. Located in the heart of the Catskill Mountain range, this swimming hole offers an invigorating and idyllic escape. As A-Z Animals states, “Peekamoose Blue Hole is one of the many delightful swimming holes…Its cool, cerulean waters attract swimmers of all ages and are ideal for those seeking a quieter escape.” Also, “don’t forget to try the rope swing for some added fun!”
Peekamoose Blue Hole in Sundown NY pic.twitter.com/62CtoeRXW6
— Jennifer Maggio photography (@Jennymagg) August 2, 2020
Peekamoose Blue Home is a pristine and unspoiled beauty located just two hours from New York City. With beautiful surroundings and crystal-clear waters, this swimming hole is nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, “It’s not uncommon for city folk to flock to this secluded spot to take a dip in its jewel-toned waters,” mentions Time Out. As for its history, it was “formed by sand and swirling gravel in an ancient whirlpool.” Although first-time visitors should know you will need a permit to enjoy this spot.
Taking the plunge into Peekamoose Blue Hole will give you a greater appreciation for the natural beauty of the world around you. Best of all, this swimming hole caters to all visitors, from thrill-seekers to those seeking a peaceful retreat. As explained by Best Life Online, “Cool cerulean waters, shady picnic spots, and a good ol’ fashioned rope swing draw swimmers to this Catskills creek. The iconic New York attraction is deep enough for cannonballs, jackknives, and headfirst dives but down stream, you can find a quiet spot to stretch out or wade with little ones.”
3. Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is one of the best swimming holes in the U.S. With breathtaking beauty and adventure, this natural water park is renowned for its unique rock formations and refreshing waters. For a bit more background, Jet Setter describes Slide Rock State Park as, “a half-mile stretch of Oak Creek that’s just 15 minutes north of Sedona.” Sloping gently into the creek, this swimming hole features “an 80-foot-long natural slip n’ slide…composed of worn sandstone slick with algae.”
Slide Rock State Park. Sedona 🌵 pic.twitter.com/lohcnaVW1Q
— David (@David42778434) June 27, 2023
The cool and clear waters of Slide Rock State Park offer a nice retreat from the Arizona heat. From floating lazily with the creek’s gentle current to plunging down natural water slides, this swimming hole caters to anyone and everyone. Rated as the top swimming hole in the U.S., Best Life Online says “Slide Rock State Park is a popular spot just seven miles north of Sedona.” Boasting a “seven percent decline,” this algae-slick sandstone “whisks visitors from top to bottom in the blink of an eye.”
Slide Rock State Park is a one-of-a-kind aquatic playground that offers unimaginable beauty. Perched in the heart of red rock country, the park is surrounded by towering cliffs, vibrant foliage, and red sandstone rocks. As U.S. News Travel explains, “Locals and visitors alike love to come swim in this state park to cool down.” For those visiting, you can “glide down a natural chute or enjoy cliff jumping,” while “there are plenty of campgrounds nearby.”
4. Madison Blue Spring
In the center of North Florida’s pristine wilderness is Madison Blue Spring. As a spring-fed oasis, the waters of this swimming hole offer amazing clarity, which allows visitors to see remarkable depths beneath them. As Martha Stewart says, “this radiant blue, 80-foot-wide natural spring provides tourists with a picturesque place to spend the afternoon.” You can “explore underwater sea life like turtles or go fishing and snorkeling.”
Have you ever been to Madison Blue Spring State Park? It’s definitely one for your #bucketlist. ❤️
— AuthenticFlorida.com 🌴 (@AuthenticFL) June 11, 2023
Madison Blue Spring beckons visitors to relax and float. It’s a must-visit as one of the best swimming holes in the U.S. Like A-Z Animals describes, “The spring is an impressive 83 feet wide and 25 feet deep and features pristine, transparent waters that flow over limestone boulders before joining the river.” It offers “excellent swimming and cave diving opportunities,” and the “park’s abundant birdlife adds to the charm of the surroundings.”
Madison Blue Spring is perfect for people seeking relaxation, as its surroundings bring a serene and tranquil ambiance to the area. From taking a dip in the clear waters to taking a hike through scenic trails, this swimming hole offers a bit of everything for outdoor enthusiasts. “Located in Florida, Madison Blue Spring is filled with crystal-clear waters that merge into a river,” notes Travel and Leisure. For setting, “it’s surrounded by hardwoods and pines,” which makes it an ideal place to “admire the park’s many birds.”
5. Johnson’s Shut-Ins
One of the best swimming holes in the U.S. is also one of the oldest. Created over a million years ago, Johnson’s Shut-Ins is an enchanting oasis tucked away in the rugged landscapes of southeastern Missouri. As Only In Your States explains, “Johnson’s Shut-Ins are the result of volcanic activity over a billion years ago.” It is a “great place to take a dip in the US” and offers more than just swimming with “hiking, camping, and more.”
If you're hunting an accessible Missouri swimming hole with spring-fed waters, check out Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. It can get busy, but if you move upstream you have a piece of the waters to yourself and then swim to the shut-ins area when ready. https://t.co/rA644t5idr pic.twitter.com/2SuTwQISrH
— Noah J. Sabich (@NoahSabich) July 6, 2023
The water-carved formations of Johnson’s Shut-Ins provide abundant beauty and a playful experience. For those seeking adventure, the smooth rock surfaces make it safe and ideal for sliding and gliding along the water. For visitation, Jet Setter writes, “Johnson’s Shut-Ins is located well out in the Ozarks, roughly two hours from St. Louis.” This swimming hole “follows along the east fork of Missouri’s Black River for more than 8,000 acres” and gets its name from the “pink granite, blueish-gray rhyolite, and dolomite bedrock forms that ‘shut-in’ the oasis.”
Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a designated state park with rugged terrain, adventurous waterways, and many opportunities to explore and relax. As a protected site, this swimming hole is well preserved and will continue to be so for generations to come. Like The Travel describes, “Johnson’s Shut-Ins is an amazing geological feature and is one of the best swimming holes in the US.” In the summer, “it is a cooling paradise from the heat, while in the spring it offers a refreshing escape from the humidity.” With “so many swimming holes created, having a private experience at Johnson’s Shut-Ins is easy.”
You may also be interested in:
- Best Waterfalls in the World
- Best Hiking Trails in the U.S.
- Best Water Parks in America
- America’s Best Campgrounds
- Most Beautiful Countries in the World
- Most Beautiful National Parks in the World
- Time Out
- Jet Setter
- The Travel
- A – Z Animals
- Martha Stewart
- Best Life Online
- U.S. News Travel
- Only In Your State
- Travel and Leisure
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.