One of the most beautiful things I’ve found about traveling, you’re not sure what tomorrow will bring. No matter where the journey take’s me, I’m bringing you along with me! Happy Traveling!
Plunge into Nature: Exploring the Best Waterfalls in the US to Swim in
April 8, 2023
Waterfalls are more than just cascades of natural beauty; they’re also fun swimming places. The trick is finding the best waterfall for swimming in the US, which can be tricky because some waterfalls are death traps and others are boring. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks based on location, size, and gorgeous scenery.
Exploring the Best Waterfalls in the US to Swim in
Can you swim in a waterfall plunge pool?
Don’t dive into the pool. Logs and rocks can sometimes hide beneath the surface, and sudden impacts from cold water can cause temporary paralysis and cause drowning. Never take water from the waterfalls to the plunge pool. The hydraulic turbulence of the water will trap you under the water.
Tips for Visiting Waterfalls in the United States
Waterfalls are some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the United States. They’re also popular destinations for swimming, hiking, and picnicking, so it’s important to know how to enjoy these beautiful spots safely.
Here are some tips for visiting waterfalls in the United States:
Find a waterfall that has a swimming hole near it. If there’s a way to swim in the water that falls from the waterfall, all the better! You can cool off after climbing slippery rocks or hiking through brushy forest trails.
Wear protective gear. Waterfalls can be very slippery and dangerous, especially if you’re rock climbing or jumping off waterfalls. Make sure you have sturdy shoes on, and don’t go barefoot. Also, wear sunscreen since many waterfalls are in sunny areas with little shade.
Look for low-traffic times of the year. The busiest time at most of these falls is during summer vacation when kids are out of school and parents have time off from work. A few weeks before or after summer vacation is usually the best time to visit most falls without waiting in long lines or dealing with crowds.
Stay hydrated! Getting dehydrated while hiking or swimming at a waterfall is easy because you sweat and lose water through your pores. Bring plenty of drinking water on your trip so you won’t get thirsty while enjoying nature’s beauty!
Check weather reports before heading out on any hikes or swims around waterfalls in case there may be storms coming in later that day or evening (this is especially important if you want to swim at night). If thunderstorms are forecasted for your area, don’t risk getting struck by lightning by being near a waterfall during those times!
Havasu Falls, Arizona
The waterfalls at Hvasupai may be the largest waterfall in Arizona. These highly protected areas typically bring large crowds all year round. There are 5 spectacular falls whose centerpiece is a 100ft waterfall in the Havasu Valley. This untouched water will require preparation and planning for your 10-kilometer-long trek. The terrain is remote, without roads or a hazardous desert climate. It’s 4-5 hours from most Phoenix and Los Vegas cities.
The Havasu Falls in Arizona’s southernmost Grand Canyon attracts many tourists to the Havasupai reservations, a report by travel + leisure said. This is because their turquoise and beautiful pool is also surrounded by red rocks, enhancing the contrast. The swimming pool requires a 10-mile walk. Alternatively, you can sleep in a camping or lodge. This is 100 dollars for an overnight camping trip and requires extensive planning because bookings are usually hot commodities.
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural wonder 30 miles outside Austin, Texas. It features a 50-foot waterfall that cascades into a crystal-clear pool of water that’s perfect for swimming on a hot summer day. This natural pool was formed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed, creating the picturesque setting that visitors can enjoy today.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is special because of its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. The pool is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, giving visitors the feeling of being immersed in a tropical oasis. The preserve is also home to various wildlife, including birds, fish, and turtles, making it a popular spot for nature lovers and photographers.
In addition to swimming, visitors can explore the preserve’s hiking trails and picnic areas or relax and soak up the sun on the pool’s rocky shores. The preserve is open to the public year-round, but visitors are encouraged to make reservations in advance to ensure access to the pool, which can get crowded during peak season.
Whether looking for a peaceful escape from the city or an adventure in the great outdoors, Hamilton Pool Preserve is a must-see destination that offers something for everyone.
Cummins Falls, Tennessee
Cummins Falls is a breathtaking waterfall in Cummins Falls State Park in Tennessee. The waterfall cascades over 75 feet of limestone rock, creating a stunning natural pool perfect for swimming and cooling off on hot summer days.
Cummins Falls’s unique due to its remote location and rugged terrain. The falls are only accessible via a strenuous 1.5-mile hike through the park’s wooded trails and rocky terrain, making it a true hidden gem worth visiting. The hike to the falls is rewarded by the opportunity to swim and relax in the refreshing waters of the natural pool below the falls.
In addition to swimming, visitors can explore the park’s other natural wonders, including hiking trails, rock formations, and the nearby Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. The park is open year-round, but visitors are advised to check the park’s website for information on weather conditions and trail closures.
Cummins Falls is a must-see destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers seeking a unique and challenging outdoor experience. Whether you’re hiking to the falls or relaxing in the cool waters of the natural pool, the beauty and tranquility of Cummins Falls will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Rainbow Falls, Hawaii
Rainbow Falls is a stunning waterfall in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. The waterfall is named for the rainbows that often form in the mist created by the falling water. The falls are easily accessible and popular among tourists, but the surrounding area has been carefully maintained to preserve its natural beauty.
Rainbow Falls is part of Wailuku River State Park. Visitors can enjoy the waterfall from various viewpoints, including a lookout platform that provides a panoramic view of the falls and the surrounding rainforest. The falls drop over 80 feet into a large pool, and visitors can often see the pool’s resident population of fish and turtles.
In addition to the falls, the park also features several hiking trails that wind through the lush rainforest and provide birdwatching and wildlife viewing opportunities. The park is open year-round and is free to visit, making it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.
Alamere Falls, California
Alamere Falls is a beautiful waterfall on California’s Point Reyes National Seashore coast. This waterfall is unique because it cascades directly onto the beach, where visitors can watch the water flow into the ocean. The waterfall is fed by Alamere Creek, which runs through the lush and scenic landscape of the national seashore.
The hike to Alamere Falls is approximately 8.5 miles round-trip and takes visitors through various landscapes, including forests, coastal bluffs, and open grasslands. The trail can be challenging in some areas, with steep inclines and uneven terrain, but the stunning views and refreshing waterfall make it well worth the effort.
In addition to the waterfall, visitors can enjoy the beautiful beach, ocean views, and abundant wildlife that calls the national seashore home. Alamere Falls is a popular destination for hikers, nature lovers, and photographers and is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area.
Rainbow Falls, North Carolina
Rainbow Falls is a stunning waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina. The falls are known for their unique shape and colorful mist, which creates a beautiful rainbow effect in the sunlight. The waterfall is approximately 150 feet tall and flows into a deep pool at the bottom, popular for swimming and wading.
The trail to Rainbow Falls is a moderate 2.5-mile hike that winds through the forest and along a river, offering beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife. Visitors can also access the nearby Turtleback Falls and Drift Falls, which are popular for swimming and exploring.
Visitors should know that the area around Rainbow Falls can be rocky and slippery, and the water can be deep and have a strong current. Always be mindful of posted signs or warnings, use good judgment, and follow safety guidelines when swimming or exploring natural areas like Rainbow Falls.
The Cascades, Virginia
The Cascades is a beautiful waterfall in the Jefferson National Forest near Pembroke, Virginia. The waterfall is approximately 66 feet tall and is formed by Little Stony Creek as it cascades over a series of rock ledges. The water falls into a serene pool at the base, surrounded by lush forest and rocky terrain.
The Cascades is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is accessible via a moderate 4-mile round-trip hike that offers stunning views of the surrounding forest and streams. The trail follows Little Stony Creek, passing by several smaller cascades and rapids before reaching the main attraction at the end of the hike.
In addition to hiking and sightseeing, visitors to The Cascades can enjoy swimming in the designated swimming areas located downstream of the waterfall. The area is known for its crystal clear water and is a refreshing place to cool off on a hot summer day. Camping is also available nearby, making it a perfect destination for a weekend getaway in nature.
Gunpowder Falls, Maryland
Gunpowder Falls State Park is a beautiful nature preserve in Maryland, just outside Baltimore. The park is centered around the Gunpowder River, which runs through the park and features several stunning waterfalls and swimming holes. Visitors can hike, fish, bike, kayak, and canoe in the park, and there are several designated swimming areas, including the Hammerman Beach area. The park is known for its pristine natural beauty and abundant wildlife, including bald eagles, ospreys, and river otters. With over 18,000 acres of forests, fields, and wetlands to explore, Gunpowder Falls State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Gulf Hagas in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, Maine
Gulf Hagas, also known as the Grand Canyon of Maine, is a popular hiking destination in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness area of Maine. It features a series of waterfalls, gorges, and pools along the West Branch of the Pleasant River and is surrounded by scenic views of the forested landscape. While swimming is allowed in some of the pools along the trail, it is important to be cautious and aware of the strong currents and slippery rocks. The area also offers opportunities for camping, fishing, and wildlife watching.
Toquerville Falls, Utah
Toquerville Falls is located in southwestern Utah and is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The falls are accessible via a moderate to difficult hike, and visitors can swim in the pool beneath the falls. However, it is important to note that water levels and conditions can be unpredictable, so caution should be exercised when swimming. The surrounding area also offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, and exploring the region’s natural beauty.
The Narrows in Zion National Park is a world-famous slot canyon hike where the Virgin River has carved a deep and narrow gorge through the sandstone. The hike requires walking in the river most of the way, which is generally not deep but can have strong currents and slippery rocks. Swimming in the Narrows is possible but not recommended due to the cold water temperature, swift currents, and potential dangers of flash floods. The park service advises visitors to wear appropriate footwear, carry a walking stick, and be aware of weather conditions. The Narrows can be a challenging but rewarding experience for adventurous hikers, offering stunning views and a unique perspective of the canyon walls.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina in the southeastern United States. It is renowned for its scenic beauty and diverse plant and animal life. The park boasts over 800 hiking trails, including portions of the famous Appalachian Trail. Visitors to the park can also enjoy camping, fishing, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives.
While many bodies of water are in the park, swimming is only allowed in designated areas, including:
Abrams Creek – Several spots along the creek are popular for swimming.
Deep Creek – This area has several swimming holes and waterfalls.
Greenbrier – Several swimming spots can be found along the river.
Little River – Several spots, including the Townsend Wye area, are popular for swimming.
It’s important to note that swimming is only allowed in designated areas, and visitors should always follow park rules and safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Jump Creek Falls, Idaho
Jump Creek Falls is a popular destination in Owyhee County, Idaho. The falls are located in the Jump Creek Canyon and are surrounded by cliffs, creating a beautiful and serene environment. The waterfall drops about 60 feet into a large pool, ideal for swimming on a hot summer day. The pool is shallow near the edges and deeper in the middle, making it perfect for children and adults. The hike to the falls is relatively short and easy, making it accessible to most visitors. It’s important to note that no lifeguards are on duty, so visitors should swim at their own risk. Additionally, visitors should be mindful of the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles while enjoying this natural wonder.
Oahu Waimea Falls, Hawaii
The Waimea waterfalls at Hawaii’s Oahu Island belong to the state of Hawaii but are still in the US. Hawaii has many waterfalls, some better than other places. However, Waimea Falls are the best access. The hotel is situated in the Waimea Valley and has a unique landscape of flowers resulting in exotic botanical gardens. A 45-meter-long waterfall is part of a tributary flowing out of the Koolau Mountains. The nearby swimming area has a changing room and lifeguards for your protection.
Lower McCloud Falls, California
Lower McCloud Falls is a popular natural attraction in Northern California. The falls consist of three cascades, each with a height of around 10 to 15 feet. The area around the falls is known for its scenic beauty, and there are several trails and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy. While the water can be cold, many people swim in the pools at the base of the falls. However, visitors are advised to exercise caution and be aware of hazards such as slippery rocks and strong currents. Lower McCloud Falls is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy the beauty of northern California’s wilderness.
Hooker Falls, North Carolina
Hooker Falls is in Dupont State Recreational Forest in western North Carolina. The waterfall is approximately 12 feet high and cascades down a granite face into a pool below. The pool at the base of the falls is a popular swimming spot for visitors, especially during summer. The water is relatively shallow and calm, making it a suitable spot for swimming and wading. However, visitors should exercise caution as no lifeguards are on duty, and water levels can change quickly due to rain and other factors. Additionally, visitors should follow all posted signs and stay on designated trails to protect the area’s natural beauty. Hooker Falls offers a refreshing spot for a swim in a beautiful natural setting.
Little River Falls
Little River Falls is in the Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama. This waterfall cascades down a steep rock face, dropping approximately 45 feet into a beautiful clear pool below. While swimming is allowed in the area, visitors should exercise caution and pay attention to warning signs as the water can be deep in certain areas, and there may be strong currents. It is important to follow all safety guidelines and be aware of hazards such as slippery rocks and sudden drops in depth. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and picnicking in the park, making it a great destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Turner Falls, Oklahoma’s Tallest Waterfall
Turner Falls is a popular natural attraction in the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma. The park’s centerpiece is the 77-foot Turner Falls, the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. The waterfall cascades into a natural swimming pool below, making it a popular spot for swimming and other water-related activities during the summer months.
In addition to the waterfall and swimming area, Turner Falls also features hiking trails, caves, picnic areas, and campsites. Visitors can explore the park’s natural beauty and wildlife, including various bird species and fish in the clear waters of Honey Creek.
It’s important to note that while swimming is allowed in the designated areas at Turner Falls, visitors should always exercise caution when in or near bodies of water, especially during periods of high water flow. Visitors should also follow park rules and regulations to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!