With the arrival of the summer swelter, we dive into a few of our favorite swimming holes around the country, from clear Hill Country pools to clothing-optional mountain springs with a view!
Madison Blue Springs | Lee, Florida
Fed by a natural spring that bubbles up from north Florida’s limestone bedrock, Madison Blue Spring State Park is home to a 25-foot-deep basin along the west bank of Withlacoochee River. The popular spot attracts locals and visitors alike for a dip in the crystal-clear waters and picnicking in this picturesque park. The swimming hole is also the entry point for divers exploring the underwater network of caves.
Conundrum Pass | Aspen, Colorado
Imagine an infinity pool, but without the price tag of a five-star hotel room. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, of course, so the price of admission is a nine-mile hike in to reach this pristine clothing-optional pool, perched at the top of Conundrum Pass in Colorado. Situated at 11,500 feet among the mountains above the Rocky Mountain town of Aspen, you’d be forgiven for not feeling a little smug that you get to enjoy this view together with the knowledge that you might even have shaved a few ounces off your load by leaving your swimming togs at home.
Havasu Canyon | Havasupai, Arizona
The swimming hole at the base of the stunning 100-foot waterfall at Havasu is the reward for intrepid hikers who make the steep ten-mile trek in. (You can also get here by pack animal or helicopter, but we say you need to earn your splash in the iridescent pool.) Located about a mile and half from the Havasupai Indian village of Supai, Havasu Falls is to the west of Grand Canyon National Park along the South Rim of the Big Ditch. “Pretty much the best swimming hole ever,” according to Travel+Leisure, Havasu may be blissfully remote, but it’s not exactly a secret. Some advance planning is required to snag a permit to hike into the canyon, plus you have to camp overnight at Havasupai (get more information here).
Krause Springs | Spicewood, Texas
Located about 30 miles west of Austin, Krause Springs is a privately owned 115-acre property that was founded in 1955. With over 32 springs throughout the park-like setting, this is where Austinites have been going for decades to escape the summer heat. The springs feed a manmade pool as well as natural swimming hole, both of which feed into the waters of snaking Lake Travis. Given that this is a private park, an entry fee is required and it can sell out on those hot summer weekends. Overnight tent and RV camping is available. Other popular swimming holes in the Austin area include Wimberley Blue Hole, Barton Springs and Jacob’s Well.
Bridal Veil Falls | Tallulah Falls, Georgia
Pouring over a gently sloping rock face within Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park, the poetically named 17-foot Bridal Veil Falls has a rather more prosaic nickname: Sliding Rock. Show up early to get one of 100 free daily permits to hike down into this two-mile-long, 1,000-foot-deep gorge. After a steep entrance, the level Gorge Floor Trail culminates at the natural water slide that drops you in the cooling waters of the Tallulah River—the only place for swimming inside the park.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins | Middlebrook, Missouri
A sparkling natural swimming area is the highlight of Missouri’s relatively compact 8,780-acre Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, sitting in an ecologically diverse landscape of woodlands, glades and river-carved canyons. The park itself supports more than 850 plant species, accounting for some 40 percent of the plant species in the state. Its namesake shut-ins are a series of rock pools that have been eroded over thousands of years by the Black River’s incessant pounding of the underlying volcanic stone.
Go on, share your secret swimming-hole stashes! Tell us in the comments section about your favorite spots for a summer soak outdoors.