10 Best Secret Swimming Holes in the U.S.
Skip the crowded pools and public beaches and keep cool with a dip in any one of these secret all-natural pools all season long.
There’s nothing like taking a refreshing dip in the pool in the middle of a summer heatwave. The magic of summer splashing is well-known and loved, but there’s a new and exciting twist you can add to your summer swimming adventures: secret swimming holes.
These remote and little-known swimming areas are perfect stops along your RV camping adventures. You’ll find no concession stands or lifeguards here (be careful!). These swimming holes are all natural and consist of hot springs, ponds, coves, waterfalls, and more. Let’s dive into ten of our favorite secret swimming spots.
Smith River (California/Oregon)
At the tip-top of California, the Smith River winds through some beautiful country. With the Sierra Nevada mountains as your backdrop, the secluded and densely forested riverbanks are perfect for a private swim session. You’ll find plenty of access points off of Highways 1 and 199. For a particularly calm setting, head to Sandy Beach where the water is shallow, and the current is calm.
Mono Hot Springs (California)
Perhaps you’re looking for some warmer water for your secluded swimming sessions. Also up in the Sierra Nevadas, the Mono Hot Springs offer a large variety of these natural pools warmed by geothermal heat. To access the more remote ones, you’ll have to do some legitimate hiking. If you’re up for it, try to make it to the Little Eden hot spring. Perched right on the edge of a ridge, this spring provides you incredible views that on clear days, can reach all the way to Yosemite.
Buffalo National River (Arkansas)
The gorgeous Ozark Mountains are known for their rugged topography. The large layers of limestone have allowed mother nature to work her erosion magic, creating tons of cliffs, ridges, and some pretty incredible waterfalls. The Buffalo National River, which winds through this beautiful terrain, is a swimmer’s dream. Here, you’ll find countless unique spots to take a dip, like the Cecil Cove area which features the Broadwater Hollow Falls. For a truly secret spot, however, you’ll want to hike along the river until you find one of the many coves, bends, pools, etc. that speaks to you.
The Black Hole at Dunkley Falls (New York)
Not far off from the mighty Hudson River in upstate New York, you’ll find one of the best swimming holes at Dunkley Falls. After you scamper through some unmarked trails, you’ll come across a beautiful little waterfall that empties into a mid-sized pool with relatively calm waters. The area is quite scenic, with mature pine forests surrounding you and boulders scattered along the shoreline. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there’s even a rope swing or two hanging from tree limbs near the water’s edge.
The Devil’s Punchbowl (Colorado)
Located in the outskirts of Aspen in prime ski country, the true thrill-seeker will be delighted by the discovery of The Devil’s Punchbowl off of Highway 82. Likely getting its name from the steep, rocky outcroppings surrounding the deep blue pool, this swimming hole is perfect for those looking to do a little cliff jumping. Be aware that if you choose to take the plunge, the water is largely sourced by run-off from the surrounding mountains and can be quite cold.
Upper Falls of Seneca Creek (West Virginia)
If your RV exploration and camping adventures bring you through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia, a visit to the Upper Falls of Seneca Creek is definitely worth it. A five-mile hike from the nearest parking area will bring you into the gorgeous valley created by thousands of years of erosion from Seneca Creek. Once you work your way up to the falls, you’ll find them delicately cascading into a perfect little pool about 10-15 feet deep that makes for a quaint and scenic spot to take a dip.
Lakewood Pond (Maine)
In a remote area of Acadia National Park, little Lakewood Pond beckons you for a refreshing New England summer swim. The north end of the pond comes to a secluded cove and contains a small but high-quality beach. For a pond, the water is exceptionally clear and clean and due to its small size, it can reach pretty favorable temperatures in the heat of summer.
Sitting Bull Falls (New Mexico)
Not too far from Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Mexican border, Sitting Bull Falls is a true oasis in the hot desert sun. Among the mountains, the cool waters of the small nearby stream have gratuitously congregated to form some very welcome swimming habitat. Although it looks incredibly welcoming, swimming is not permitted in the pool containing the falls, themselves, so you’ll want to look at the other areas both above and below them.
Salmon Hole (Idaho)
Among the lush greenery of the hilly Salmon-Challis National Forest in central Idaho, you’ll find a beautiful hot/cold swimming combo. Like you’ve probably seen or heard about before, some folks seek out the thrilling sensation of jumping out of a hot tub or sauna and into a lake in the dead of winter. Although it won’t be THAT intense, Salmon Hole offers a great pairing with a toasty hot spring located right next to the refreshingly cool waters of the Salmon River.
Riga Falls (Connecticut)
At the very northwestern tip of Connecticut, there’s plenty of great exploring to do in your RV. You’re definitely going to want to explore the Bear Mountain area and if you’re looking to take a swim after a day of hiking, you’ve got to make the trip to Riga Falls. Having a scenic mountain waterfall serenade you as you float around in your secluded swimming hole doesn’t sound half bad, does it?
Summer and swimming are like peanut butter and jelly. Consider changing things up from your local pool this season and find yourself a sweet little secret swimming hole like these during your camping adventures.
An important thing to keep in mind when enjoying these secret swimming holes is that while they offer tons of ambiance and tranquility, many lack infrastructure like toilets or trash cans. They also have no lifeguard staff on duty so all swimming will be at your own risk. As long as you are prepared for these likelihoods, however, you’re bound to have an excellent time.