8 Refreshing Swimming Holes in Washington

Posted by
Brittany Varano
February 20, 2023
Updated September 01, 2023

best swimming holes washington state
Whatcom Falls. Photo: Thye-Wee Gn

Come on in, the water’s fine at these refreshing swimming holes across Washington state.

As winter turns to spring and summer, and sunshine begins to peek through the clouds, locals flock to the great outdoors. From expanses of desert, lush rainforest, and coastal retreats, there’s a whole lot to love in Washington in the summertime – especially the state’s many swimming holes.

Some of Washington’s most exciting swimming holes are found at the base of waterfalls, the confluence of rivers, or nestled between canyon walls. Some require a hike, while others are more family-friendly and within reach of the parking lot. No matter where you go, swimming holes tend to be quiet places in nature, and you should always take caution before cliff jumping or swimming in areas with a strong current.

Without further ado, here are some of the most beautiful swimming holes in Washington for any summer day.

1. Rocky Brook Falls

swimming holes washington - Rocky Brook Falls
Photo: Jesse Stephens
  • Nearest town: Brinnon
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking

Not far from the shores of the Hood Canal lies the Rocky Brook Falls. This majestic horsetail waterfall creates a dramatic cascade off a 230-foot-tall cliff. At the base of the falls, a shallow pool makes an excellent place to splash and relax. Lush greenery and jagged peaks surround the falls creating a sense of serenity.

To reach Rocky Brook Falls, keep your eyes peeled for a gravel pull-off near mile marker 306 on Highway 101. From there, it’s a short 200-yard walk to the swimming area. The falls are just outside Olympic National Park, making it an excellent stop for anyone visiting the peninsula.

2. Lyons Ferry

swimming holes washington - Lyons Ferry
Photo: Jim Culp
  • Nearest town: Washtucna
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking

Nestled in eastern Washington, Lyons Ferry is a designated state park where the Palouse River meets the Snake River. It’s here at the confluence where people come to dive beneath the cool and refreshing waters on hot days. The river has over nine miles of grassy shoreline, offering a perfect place to enjoy a picnic or fish for trout, sturgeon, and more. The park also offers kayak and boat rentals for those itching to get out on the water.

Before swimming, consider getting in a warm-up with the exciting canyon hike to Palouse Falls, less than 15 minutes from Lyons Ferry State Park. This remote area leads hikers to a picturesque waterfall that cascades 200 feet over a cliff face, surrounded by columnar basalt formations.

3. Dougan Falls

swimming holes washington - Dougan Falls
Photo: Matthew Warner
  • Nearest town: Washougal
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking

Dougan Falls is a popular summer destination for those visiting Portland or southern Washington. While the waterfall isn’t particularly tall, it marks a point in the Washougal River that’s over 100 feet wide, perfect for a refreshing dip. The pool is deepest at the bottom of the cascade, but there are other areas along the river where you can swim and dip your toes. Surrounding the river are many flat rocks ideal for sunbathing.

Swimmers can easily turn their visit into a day-long affair thanks to nearby picnic and bathroom facilities. The falls are within walking distance from the first-come, first-serve Dougan Creek Campground managed by Washington’s DNR. A Discover Pass is needed to enter the park.

4. Douglas Creek Falls


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  • Nearest town: Palisades
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking or 1.5 miles

Smack dab in the middle of the state is the Douglas Creek Recreational Site, a span of desert that offers excellent remote hiking, mountain biking, and primitive camping. Douglas Creek flows through this protected area between a rugged canyon, creating a beautiful oasis in the desert. This hidden gem is often quiet and offers scenic cliff jumping and swimming at the base of a small but wide waterfall.

Driving a 4WD is a must to navigate the steep, uneven dirt road leading to the trailhead. Or you can walk the 1.5 miles along Slack Canyon Road SW if you don’t want to tackle the bumpy drive. Rattlesnakes and coyotes are known to frequent the area, so keep your eyes peeled, and come prepared with ample water.

5. Blue Hole Swimming Area


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  • Nearest town: Randle
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking

Hidden away in La Wis Wis Campground are the bright blue glacial waters of the Blue Hole. Dramatic cliffs frame the passing Ohanapecosh River before opening up to create this vibrant swimming area you have to see to believe. The river is glacier-fed, which means the waters are icy cold and best for sweltering hot days.

Additionally, this spot is deep enough for adrenaline seekers to jump from the 20-foot cliffs that surround the base of the pool. The river is also a favorite spot amongst experienced whitewater rafters and kayakers. You can find the beautiful Blue Hole near Mount Rainier National Park, making it a perfect stop on a weekend getaway to the state’s highest mountain.

6. Eagle Falls


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  • Nearest town: Baring
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near parking

Equipped with a rope swing, the swimming pool at the base of Eagle Falls is best for those who crave excitement. At its deepest, the swimming hole has a depth of 20 feet, filled by a mighty waterfall that drops from 25-foot tall granite cliffs. The pool is known to be a bit chilly thanks to the glacial waters that replenish it.

Just down the road from Eagle Falls is a hiking trail that leads to the Heybrook Lookout Tower, where you can witness the vast beauty of the surrounding Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the snowy peaks of Mt. Baker. There is no designated parking near the falls, just a gravel pull-off on Highway 2, so be cautious when visiting.

7. Franklin Falls

swimming holes washington - Franklin Falls
Photo: Nathan Zwally
  • Nearest town: Snoqualmie Falls
  • Hike to swimming hole: 1.2 miles

Franklin Falls is a striking, three-tiered waterfall located about an hour outside Seattle near Snoqualmie Pass. The waterfall measures an impressive 70 feet tall, and the hike to reach the base takes you through dense, old-growth forest. Even if you don’t wish to swim, the mist produced by the powerful waterfall is enough to cool you down after your hike.

The trail that leads to the waterfall is open year-round. And while the summer is undeniably the best time to dip your toes into the plunge pool, the waterfall is particularly striking in winter when icicles begin to form. To reach the falls, you must travel down a one-way road where you can take advantage of paid parking at the trailhead.

8. Whatcom Falls Park

swimming holes washington - whatcom falls
Photo: Brandon Harvey
  • Nearest town: Bellingham
  • Hike to swimming hole: Near Parking

Whatcom Falls Park is one of Washington’s best swimming holes for families. This 240-acre park is best known for its four waterfalls created by Whatcom Creek on its way to the lake. While some prefer splashing in the smaller waterfalls within the park, the best swimming holes can be found at the base of Whatcom and Whirlpool Falls.

Here the plunge pools get as deep as seven feet and are surrounded by towering cliffs. Other things to do in the park include hiking the 3.5-mile-long trails, admiring the scenic bridges that cross the creek, and visiting the fishing pond. This park provides a natural oasis just 15 minutes outside of Bellingham.

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