The word "Whatcom" is derived from a native word meaning "noisy water," and it is appropriate here, where Whatcom Creek Park explodes with bathers, swimmers, cliff jumpers and general weekend warriors in the months of summer when temperatures get above 80 degrees.
Whatcom Falls itself is a popular bathing spot, but downstream Whirlpool Falls is certainly the park's epicenter for refreshment. Here, at the 8-foot cascade, a relatively deep pool makes for a perfect swimming spot, and 20- to 25-foot cliffs surround its waters where folks of all ages take the plunge.
After the 1999 Olympic Pipeline explosion the creek was designated off limits for bathers, but it wasn't long before the summer crowds came back to their favorite swimming hole ignoring all cautionary signage. In fact, Whatcom Creek is so popular that the city put up little resistance to the swimmers' obsession, and before long the area was again a mecca of summer recreation.
Note: Both falls are best accessed from the park's lower parking lot. Whatcom Falls is a mere 100-yards from the parking area, while Whirlpool Falls is another 0.3 miles downstream past Whatcom Falls.
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.