Swimming

6 Swimming Holes for Your Bucket List

There's nothing like a relaxing swim on a hot day, and when you get to take a dip at a secluded beach or spring-fed stream in the heart of one of our national parks, so much the better.

These six national park swimming holes should definitely be on your bucket list this summer!

Little Niagara Falls

Oklahoma
Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Don't let the name make you nervous—Little Niagara Falls doesn't flow at anywhere near the same volume as its namesake. But with plenty of spring rainfall at Oklahoma's Chickasaw National Recreation Area, the deep pool beneath the scenic falls on the Travertine River provides ample room to take a dip throughout the summer months.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Children's Programs

Sand Beach

Maine
Acadia National Park

The ocean waters off the Maine coast seldom exceed 55 degrees Fahrenheit even in the middle of summer, which means you have an important choice to make: ease gingerly into the surf, or get a running start and hope for the best. Either way, Sand Beach in Acadia National Park is a beautiful spot surrounded by rugged cliffs on the shore of Mount Desert Island. Lifeguards are posted in summer.

Things to Do

  • Arts & Culture
  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing

Medano Creek

Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The tallest dunes in North America are reason enough to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve year-round, but the summer months usher in an array of warm-weather activities you can enjoy with the whole family. Medano Creek is the perfect place to cool off on a hot day, and with higher than average snowfall this year, you can expect peak flow times to last 2-3 weeks longer this summer. Take a dip, build a sandcastle, or slide on a skimboard for a refreshing experience you aren’t likely to forget!

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Children's Programs
  • Climbing

Trunk Bay

Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands National Park

Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by whoever is in charge of ranking such things, Trunk Bay offers a perfect stretch of powdery white sand, bordered by shimmering teal waters on one side and verdant jungle on the other. But Trunk Bay’s best feature is below the surface, where a 225-yard snorkeling trail leads through an otherworldly landscape of rocks, coral, and underwater vegetation teeming with fish. Lifeguards monitor the beach, and snorkels are available for rent.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Arts & Culture
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing

Whiteoak Canyon

Virginia
Shenandoah National Park

In a park known for its waterfalls, the Whiteoak Canyon Trail is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The canyon is home to six falls ranging from 35 feet to 86 feet in height, with a swimming hole at the base of each. The Upper Falls is the largest of the bunch, and it's a 4.6-mile round trip hike from the trailhead on Virginia’s famous Skyline Drive. The path is mostly downhill all the way to the falls, but keep in mind that it will be uphill most of the way back! Plan your hike on a weekday to beat the crowds.

Things to Do

  • Camping
  • Birdwatching
  • Children's Programs
  • Climbing
  • Fishing
  • Geocaching

Summer is the perfect time to explore our national parks and go for a swim in these one-of-a-kind swimming holes. With more than 400 additional National Park Service units in every state, chances are there's a quiet place to take a dip near you.

Woman holding a camera walking in a field
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