11 Refreshing Swimming Holes in Oregon

Posted by
Arthur McMahon
December 05, 2022
Updated September 01, 2023

best swimming holes in oregon
Photo: Thomas Shahan

You dip, I dip, we dip — these are the best swimming holes in Oregon.

There’s no better way to beat the heat than by jumping into a swimming hole. It’s been a pastime for centuries and offers the perfect combination of fun, adventure, and even relaxation. Luckily for travelers, Oregon is rife with swimming holes. There are countless mountain creeks and alpine lakes that can provide respite from the summer heat.

Below, you’ll find several of Oregon’s most iconic swimming holes as well as a few out-of-the-way natural pools where you can have fun with your friends, or, maybe, all alone. Read on to discover your next favorite summer spot.

Related Read: 12 Spots to See Gorgeous Fall Colors in Oregon

1. Opal Creek Three Pools

oregon swimming holes - Opal Creek Three Pools
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Nearest town: Mill City
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

Often hailed as the best “secret” swimming hole in Oregon, Opal Creek has quite a reputation to live up to — and it most certainly does. The emerald waters of this luscious canyon offer something for everybody — sandy beaches, deep pools, cliff jumping, natural water slides, waterfalls, and more.

East of Salem, the Three Pools Parking Area offers the most accessible water access. Here, you can find your own spot among the summer crowds in the nearby pools, or you can scramble your way up or down the creek for a bit more privacy.

However, there are many more great swimming holes along the length of the creek. If you’re up for an explorative drive or a short hike, you’re bound to find a spot to call your own for the day.

**Access to this location is currently closed due to fire damage but it is expected to reopen in spring 2023**

2. Fall Creek

  • Nearest town: Lowell
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

The Winberry State Recreation Site at Fall Creek Reservoir east of Eugene is a popular local swimming and boating destination, but if you’re willing to drive a little further, you’ll discover the magic and solitude that Fall Creek itself has to offer.

Follow Big Fall Creek Road around the north side of the reservoir and continue on past the lake’s end. Within minutes you’ll come across multiple small campgrounds, creekside pullovers, and the trailhead to Fall Creek Trail. Each and every one of these parking areas has its own small swimming hole to enjoy. Some are deeper than others, and some are even home to small basalt cliffs from where you can jump.

Related Read: 11 Awe-Inspiring Glamping Spots in Oregon

3. High Rocks Park


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  • Nearest town: Gladstone
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

High Rocks Park is a great place for Portland city-dwellers and visitors to cool off on a hot summer day. It’s not ideal for small children as the rocks can be tricky to navigate and the current is swift, but adults and teenagers frequent this spot for some fun in the sun.

The water runs deep here, and the cliff-jumping opportunities are aplenty. Though there are lifeguards on duty at the popular jumping-off points during the summer, it’s recommended to swim with caution and wear safety gear such as water shoes and a life vest.

Related Read: 8 Refreshing Swimming Holes in Washington

4. Alfred S. Tyson Park

oregon swimming holes - Alfred S. Tyson Park
  • Nearest town: Elkton
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

Tucked behind the main thoroughfare through the quaint town of Elkton, Alfred S. Tyson Park provides access to an immensely beautiful stretch of the Umpqua River. During winter, the rushing river looks large and fierce, but waters recede during the summer months to reveal large slabs of river-carved basalt rock that you can walk out onto and explore.

Past the freshwater tidepools and patches of moss, the basalt drops off where the river’s main current has etched its path. Here, you can swim freely in the deep river water or hang on to the basalt and float. As you survey the area, you’ll also find smaller channels that you can wade into or dip your feet in. The whole family is sure to have fun at this swimming hole.

Related Read: The 10 Best Scenic Drives in Oregon

5. Brice Creek Falls


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  • Nearest town: Cottage Grove
  • Hike to swimming hole: 0.3 miles

This is another Oregon creek that features many swimming holes along its length. The Brice Creek Trail gives access to several excellent and secluded swimming holes, but the most popular and most breathtaking is the deep pool at Brice Creek Falls, which lies just a short walk down the trail from Cedar Creek Campground.

The pool here was formed by plunging waterfalls, and the scenery is out of this world. This rocky, forested canyon is straight out of a storybook. The stone cliffs and slabs make for stellar sunbathing and jumping, and the cool pool is perfect for wading.

Related Read: 9 Gorgeous Places to See Fall Colors in Washington State

6. Wilson River Footbridge

  • Nearest town: Tillamook
  • Hike to swimming hole: 0.3 miles

The Wilson River is a slow-moving river situated in the Tillamook State Forest. There is a 21-mile trail along its length that provides access to several outstanding swimming holes, and the most popular swimming spot even has its own parking area – the Wilson River Footbridge.

Families will enjoy the calm water here under the footbridge. Though the water gets deep underneath the cliff jumping area, much of it is fairly shallow and slow-moving. Small rapids upriver can provide some excitement for adults and older children with tubes and other floats, while the main pool near the bridge is a prime spot to relax in the warm sunlight.

Related Read: The 9 Best Beaches in Oregon to Enjoy the Pacific Vibes

7. Deschutes River State Recreation Area

oregon swimming holes - Deschutes River State Recreation Area
Photo: Mitchell Friedman
  • Nearest town: The Dalles
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

After melting from eastern Oregon’s glacial heights and meandering through hundreds of miles of high desert terrain, the Deschutes River empties out into the famous Columbia River Gorge, but not before passing by the Deschutes River State Recreation Area.

The river is a favorite for swimmers, thanks to its slow current that’s easy to swim in. Plus, after crossing the desert, the water is exceptionally warm during the summer months. Some portions of the river do pick up speed though, making it attractive for rafting.

8. Latgawa Creek


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  • Nearest town: Medford
  • Hike to swimming hole: 0.7 miles

Looking for a remote pool that you’re likely to have all to yourself? Latgawa Creek may just provide you with the privacy you’re looking for.

The short hike crosses a footbridge and follows Latgawa Creek (formerly named Dead Indian Creek) upriver toward the small, picturesque waterfall. The swimming hole isn’t much larger than a typical above-ground backyard pool, but it’s plenty deep and refreshingly tranquil. Feel free to soak and swim to your heart’s content. Plus, the waterfall can be used as a waterslide, and the surrounding cliff walls are great for jumping.

Related Read: 8 Stunning Waterfall Hikes Throughout Oregon

9. Hood River Waterfront Park

oregon swimming holes - Hood River Waterfront Park
Photo: David Lebech
  • Nearest town: Hood River
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

There’s nothing remote or secret about Hood River Waterfront Park. This man-made sandy beach was cut into the riverbank of the Columbia River within the town of Hood River. While it’s quite popular and easy to access, it’s also an excellent place to swim for the entire family.

Hood River is known as a windsurfer’s paradise. The waters surrounding this waterfront park are frequented by windsurfers of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals, both local and from around the world. When the weather’s nice, you’re certain to see windsurfers riding the breeze.

10. Wildwood Falls

oregon swimming holes - Wildwood Falls
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Nearest town: Dorena
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

At Wildwood Falls, a large, dark green swimming hole rests beneath a 15-foot waterfall that pours down from a strikingly wide basalt ridge. While the waters directly beneath the waterfall can be tumultuous, the rest of the pool is relatively peaceful and protected.

You can safely walk along much of the upper basalt ridge when the river’s flow is low during the summer and cliff jumpers can find several spots along its edge. Rafters also frequent the falls, as do scuba divers who search the depths beneath its plunge.

Related Read: The 9 Best Small Towns in Oregon for a PNW Escape

11. Jefferson Park

oregon swimming holes - Jefferson Park
Photo: Rob DeGraff
  • Nearest town: Detroit
  • Hike to swimming hole: 5.5 miles

Jefferson Park is a backpacker’s delight. It’s possible to make this journey and go for a swim all in one day, but it’s best enjoyed by spending a night or two in this special area. There are multiple access points, but the shortest hike to this area is from the Whitewater Trailhead.

Jefferson Park is an alpine destination part-way up Mount Jefferson’s northern flank that is naturally protected by surrounding buttes and ridges. The forest gives way here to vast meadows that hold five swimmable lakes, the most visited of which is Scout Lake.

Time spent in Jefferson Park is never quite long enough. If you do decide to camp, make sure to get a Central Cascades Wilderness Pass, and you’ll need to register one of the designated camping sites if you plan to pitch your tent within 250 feet of any of the lakes.

12. Clear Lake

oregon swimming holes - Clear Lake
Photo: Flickr
  • Nearest town: Sweet Home
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking area

Situated high up near the precipice of Santiam Pass, Clear Lake is a pristine body of water that is often overlooked by travelers on their way between Salem and Bend. Fed by the adjoined Great Spring, this crystal clear lake is a prime spot for a summer swim.

The lake has multiple access points — a resort, a campground, and a day-use area. Any of these shoreline access points make for great swimming. At the resort, you can rent kayaks and canoes, and even stay the night in one of the cabins.

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