Grab your swimsuit and some eco-friendly sunscreen — it’s time to explore the outdoors. The heat has arrived in the U.S., and that means swimming. Rather than splashing around in fossil-fuel-heated public pools, take your summer entertainment outdoors and relish in natural swimming holes complete with spectacular scenery. Here are six you need to visit this year:
Homestead Crater – Midway, Utah
Walking through the Homestead property in Utah, you will see what looks like a big, old rock littering the horizon. As you get closer, you’ll find a hole smack-dab in the middle of this rock, like a beehive. Look down to see a crystal-clear pool calling your name. This natural swimming hole is known as the Homestead Crater. The caldera is 10,000 years in the making and contains extremely unique and impressive geologic features. Plus, scuba aficionados will enjoy this extraordinary warm-water diving destination — the only one in the continental U.S.
Hamilton Pool – Dripping Springs, Texas
Thousands of years ago, the dome of an underground river collapsed to form a small, picturesque cave complete with a brilliant jade pool beneath a gushing waterfall. Thanks, geology. This area is now known as Hamilton Pool, just west of Austin, Texas. The ecology around Hamilton Pool is astonishing — stalactites tower over mosses and ferns galore, endangered golden-cheeked warblers find peace, and orchids thrive in the wet environment. A plot of more than 200 acres of natural habitat is preserved here. Talk about swimming in nature!
Oneonta Falls – Oneonta Gorge, Oregon
Don’t plan on bringing your beach bag to this swim spot. Lower Oneonta Falls is preserved as a natural habitat, so there are no footpaths to follow. How do you get to this botanical beauty? You swim! Swim — or wade — your way from Oneonta Creek’s outlet to its incredible waterfall to bask in its glory. In terms of swimming, this spot is more about the journey than the destination. Once you reach the falls, swimming isn’t an option, but playing in the refreshing cascade is heartily encouraged.
Queen’s Bath – Princeville, Hawaii
It may not seem surprising that one of America’s prettiest swimming holes lies in the majestic island state of Hawaii. Still, Queen’s Bath on Kauai will leave you speechless. Queen’s Bath is a sinkhole surrounded by igneous rock, filling with water and sea life with the tides. Hawaiian fish, urchins and aquatic plants call this tide pool home and, when full of water, Queen’s Bath is top-notch when it comes to swimming holes.
Havasu Falls – Supai, Arizona
A valid permit and a 10-mile hike stand between you and this one-of-a-kind locale. Believe us, Havasu Falls is worth every effort. After a breathtaking trek through Arizona’s Grand Canyon, find paradise in the blue-green waters of the falls. Whether you take a plunge into the pool from the vibrant red cliffs or find refuge from the heat under nearby Cottonwoods, you’re guaranteed to be refreshed.
Chena Hot Springs – Fairbanks, Alaska
There’s something special about relaxing in a hot pool in chilly weather. That luxury doesn’t always call for an energy-guzzling machine to keep you warm — head for natural pools like Chena Hot Springs in Alaska. Natural, geothermal energy beneath the pool will keep you nice and toasty while gazing at the snow-capped peaks and flickering northern lights. There’s even a hotel resort on-site, so there’s no need to limit your soak time to an afternoon.
Diana’s Baths – Bartlett, New Hampshire
Searching for a tranquil spot the whole family can enjoy? Look no further than Diana’s Baths in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Here, a series of waterfalls cascade into a variety of larger pools — the perfect spot to cool off while enjoying nature’s beauty. Relax on an outcropping, explore the rock ledges, or splash around in the falls and shallow pools along Lucy Brook. There truly is something for everyone here, especially nature lovers.
What natural swimming holes top your list?