It’s easy to assume that travelers need to trek to Thailand or some undiscovered South American waterfall to find the perfect swimming hole. But, many of the world’s most stunning lagoons are located right in the Lower 48. Here are five of the most jaw-dropping swimming holes in the contiguous United States.
Havasu Falls (Arizona)
Nothing about the Grand Canyon disappoints and Havasu Falls is no exception. Situated on the 188,000-acre tribal reserve of the Havasupai people — long considered the guardians of the Grand Canyon — the falls provide a unique destination for hikers that’s unlike any other in the U.S. The stunning falls are difficult to get to, requiring a 10-mile hike each way, so the journey isn’t for the feeble. They can be reached on foot or on horseback and it may be best to go with a guide like Wildland Trekking to handle the logistics. The company even offers a helicopter option to cut the hiking down to just two miles.
Hamilton Pool (Texas)
Opal Pool (Oregon)
Carlon Falls (California)
For visitors to Yosemite Park’s Hetch Hetchy, Carlon Falls is an easy diversion just off Evergreen Road. The aptly named Carlon Falls Trail leading to the falls is a mostly level, two-mile amble — much of which is rarely seen by park visitors. The 35-foot falls run year-round and, on most days, you’ll likely have them all to yourself. The idyllic, boulder-laden swimming hole near the falls is surrounded by ponderosa pine trees and brilliant fields of sunflowers.
Little River Canyon (Alabama)
The aptly named Little River Canyon provides 12 miles of idyllic swimming holes for visitors to Alabama’s Lookout Mountain area. The 600-foot-deep canyon offers one of the most dramatic drops east of the Mississippi River. A short drive downriver from the state’s Highway 35 bridge, you’ll find the easiest access lagoon at the base of Little River Falls. Go when water levels are low as high water can prove dangerous. For something a little more adventurous, hike 0.75 miles from Eberhart Point to the floor of the canyon where several cliffs provide ideal launchpads for cliff-diving.