Nature's Pool Party

Nature's Pool Party


Photos by  Wes Frazer, Oliver Sjöström, & Matt Hardy
Illustration by Nathalie Maxey

North Carolina

Deep Creek - Bryson City

There are a number of great rental locations at the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you can get inner tubes - and you’ll only have a less than a mile trek until you reach Deep Creek Trail. Decide if you want your ride to be relaxing and lazy or wild and bouncy. The upper whitewater section ends at a wide, deep swimming hole, while the lower, smoother section ends at the parking lot.

Sliding Rock - Pisgah National Forest - Brevard

The true joy of Sliding Rock is standing in the spectator area where this smooth rock waterslide empties into a small pool and watching the surprised swimmers emerge from the cold bath. It’s usually all smiles going into the 7-foot-deep pool, and a teeth-chattering look on faces coming out. Located on the upper reaches of the Davidson River. Small entrance fee applies. 


Fall Creek Falls State Park - Spencer

Located in the most visited state park in Tennessee, the 256ft Fall Creek Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Other waterfalls within the park are Piney Creek Falls, Cane Creek Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades, with gorges for swimming. There’s also a swinging bridge over the swimming hole where locals like to dive into the water.

Harpeth River State Park - Kingston Springs

The park runs along 40 scenic miles of the Class II Harpeth River, a popular route for canoe and kayak trips, and there are several swimming holes and rocky beach spots along the way. There are also numerous upstream and downstream access points for beginners and advanced kayakers. Try the five-mile float with several small beaches to stop for a swim, or visit the Narrows of the Harpeth to see one of the oldest (1818) man-made tunnels.


Blue Hole Falls - Hiawasee

Take a one-mile hike via the High Shoals Trail to a sweet little swimming hole complete with falls and an observation deck. The pool can reach depths of more than 10 feet!

Gober Beach - Ballground/Canton

An old-style county swimming hole off a back road in Ballground and Canton. The parking is there for people putting in kayaks on the Etowah River, but you can just stay in place and enjoy the shallow water and rocky beach spot. Dogs are welcome!

South Carolina

Oconee State Park - Blue Ridge Mountains

This swimming hole is really bigger than a hole at 20-acres, but what a place they have here. Not only is the water nice, but they also have low and high diving boards! There is a small entrance fee into the park, but the swimming is free and there is a lifeguard on duty here.


Hippie Hole - Little River Canyon

Located in northwest Alabama, within the Little River Canyon, the Hippie Hole is a very popular Alabama attraction. In addition to swimming, visitors enjoy leaping and diving from the surrounding cliffs. It’s a very sunny area with almost zero shade, so don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Mardis Mills Falls - Blount County

Mardis Mills is a gorgeous 15-foot waterfall. The area below the waterfall is very popular among kayakers and swimmers.There’s even a fun rope swing you can use to jump into the water!


Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park - Dawson Springs

Within this underrated state park, you'll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Kentucky. The park has spent a lot of time making a pristine swimming spot, and they've succeeded with soft, white sand and gorgeous views of the surrounding landscapes.

Laurel River Lake - London Ranger District

One of the deepest and cleanest lakes in Kentucky! Laurel River Lake is located on London Ranger District and features 5,600 acres of clea water and nearly 200 miles of tree-lined shore. The quiet coves and cliff-lined shores offer relaxation and quiet reflection, as well as boating, fishing, skiing and scuba diving


Krause Springs - Spicewood

This swimming hole and 32 natural springs are located at a campground about 30 miles outside of Austin. The swimming hole has a crashing waterfall above it, and some of the springs feed into an on-site man-made pool. 

Swimming Hole at Neal’s Lodge - Concan

This section of the Frio River, located in the town of Concan about 75 miles from San Antonio, is popular for floating and relaxing in spring-fed water. You can stay overnight at a campsite or in cabins at Neal's Lodge.