Three Pools on the North Fork of the Santiam River is among the best swimming and cliff-jumping locations in Oregon. The unique combination of basalt outcroppings and emerald pools have helped to establish Three Pools as a favorite summer getaway. You will almost certainly see some crowds here on a sunny day, but the area is large enough to provide a little space for anyone who looks.
Options are limited if you would like to stay overnight in the area. Shady Cove Campground has 12 campsites, there are campsites along NF-2207, and there are campsites surrounding the Three Pools day-use area. These latter sites fill up quickly, so a Thursday or Friday arrival for a weekend stay may be in order.
Attention!: The Forest Service is considering closing the Opal Creek Wilderness to all camping outside the Shady Cove Campground due to excessive tree cutting, trampled plants, and large amounts of garbage, human waste, and toilet paper left at the backcountry campsites. They simply do not have the staff or the funding to attend to these issues. If you want to continue camping in the area, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, bury your feces six inches down and more than 100 feet from the river, bring in your own firewood, and stay on established paths. Using the area responsibly will increase the chance that people can continue to enjoy it.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.