In the dog days of summer, not anything beats a leap, wild and free, into a good old-fashioned swimming hole. Grab your swimming suit and head for the river. We've curved up 10 stimulating pools where you can float after plunging waterfalls, swan dive from rocky ledges, ride from side to side chutes, and find skinny-dipping privacy. C'mon in. The water's fine.
Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona
This shocking Caribbean-blue pool—on the foundation of the Grand Canyon near the Native American society of Supai—is for the most insistent of swimming-hole devotees. There are only three ways to get to Havasu Falls: hire a helicopter, hike 10 miles, or ride a pack mule. Plus, you'll need to obtain an entry permit, and, except you're a hardcore trail runner, book a night at the Havasupai Lodge or campground.
Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Break out your old discontinue jeans shorts for this 60-foot natural waterslide just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water pour over a huge, typically even boulder and into a seven-foot plunge pool. If the ride doesn't ake your breath away, the water heat will.
Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, Dripping Springs, Texas
When summer temps hit 100, Austinites have abundance of great swimming holes to choose from, as well as Barton Springs right in the middle of town. But the renowned get-away-from-it-all spot is Hamilton Pool Nature conserve, about 25 miles west of Austin off Highway 71. A quarter-mile trail descends to the canyon pool.
Diana's Baths, Bartlett, New Hampshire
Once the position of a sawmill process and now a sheltered chronological site in the White Mountain National Forest, the Diana's Baths swimming hole is best on a warm, full-moon night. Locals say it's the most quixotic spot in Mt. Washington Valley: sheltered, private, and just right for skinny-dipping under the stars.
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
It's a parched land, Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But the 126-foot Lower Calf Creek Falls are astoundingly pliant, with a year-round flow into a lush oasis and pool. Set out early to beat the desert sun on the five-and-a-half mile round-trip trail. The loop, which starts at the Calf Creek Campground, cuts from end to end a deep canyon and past Anasazi picture before coming to the falls.
Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
For swimming-hole enthusiast who thinks one is by no means enough, there's Whiteoak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park, 75 miles from Washington, D.C. Here, just off of Skyline Drive, you can go pool-hopping at the base of six diverse waterfalls that are linked by steep, rocky trails that wind all the way through the canyon.
Baker's Bridge/Animas River, Durango, Colorado
In the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s famed jump scene, bank robbers on the lam, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, make a death-defying leap into a steep river gorge. The jump was filmed on the Animas River in Durango, just upstream from a popular confined jump spot: Baker's Bridge, off Highway 550.
Enfield Falls, Robert H. Treman State Park, New York
As these New York college towns accepted green T-shirts proclaim, "Ithaca is Gorges." No doubt the land is stunning, but it also creates a picture-perfect backdrop for swimming holes. There are about 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of downtown, and Robert H. Treman State Park's Enfield Falls are a much loved amongst locals and undergrads.
Johnson's Shut-Ins, Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri
A two-hour drive south of St. Louis, the East Fork of the Black River swirls in the region of giant volcanic chunks at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri's preferred normal water park. You can mess up over the rocks, slip and slide from end to end the chutes, and relax in your own private pool (or "shut-in").
Firehole River Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
In Yellowstone National Park all of the geysers and hot springs fall under the look-but-don't-touch rule. But this warm swimming hole, fed by remote thermal skin tone, is one of only two spots in the park where you're permissible to take a dip. Near the park's western way in, the Firehole River Canyon pool hits the spot after a long day of summertime tourism.