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Tyson Gillard | 07.02.2013

As the temperature soars this summer we want to make sure you’re well prepared, and staying refreshed is certainly going to be the key! Below is a list of some of the best local spots. Granted, not all of them are actually within the state bounds of Oregon, with a few just on the northern side of the Columbia, but we know they're worth crossing over into Washington for. Some of them you may already know about, others may be new to you, and all of them are amazing! 

Before heading out though, remember that these swimming holes are sacred to many and proper etiquette and ethical behavior are crucial to keeping them open to the public for years to come. Stay safe, be courteous, and have fun!

  1. Salmon Falls (deep and chilly waters welcome one of the state's best cliff jumping spots)
  2. Brice Creek (deep emerald pools shaded by tall conifers)
  3. Rowland Lake (big sun with the warmest waters)
  4. Lewis + Clark State Recreation Site (doesn’t get much closer if you’re from PDX)
  5. Fall Creek (intimate pools, lush forest, and good access from Eugene)
  6. Collins Beach (you can’t beat 3 miles of continuous beach)
  7. Opal Creek Trail (Opal Pool… enough said)
  8. Elephant Rock (rocky beach, jumping spot, one of the Chetco's finest)
  9. Three Pools (arguably the king of swimming holes, but heavily impacted by crowds; consider an alternative)
  10. Ritter Road (A small cliff and a lot of solitude on the Middle Fork of the John Day River)
  11. The Narrows (Clackamas River’s mini basalt gorge)
  12. Footbridge Day-use Area (cliff jumping, beach, fishing… need anything else?)
  13. Salmon Creek Falls (a long, calm stretch of the otherwise wild Salmon Creek near Oakridge)
  14. Alder Flats (beat the heat and the crowds)
  15. High Rocks (rivers don’t move much slower than here, but expect company)
  16. Wilson River, Keenig Creek (who knew the Wilson River was so incredible?)
  17. Niagara County Park (North Santiam's best swimming spot)
  18. North Fork Middle Fork Wilamette River (plenty of opportunities just out of Westfir)
  19. Cascadia State Park (South Santiam River's classic tubing and swimming spot)
  20. Deschutes River State Recreation Area (the warmest waters in the state make the Deschutes spectacular)
  21. Youngs River Falls (this riverside beach outside Astoria won't disappoint)
  22. Dead Indian Creek (small waterfall and pool in the Rogue River-Siskyou National Forest)
  23. Meadow Camp (cold water and a big plunge)
  24. Snyder Bridge, Idanha (deep North Santiam pools east of Detroit Lake with easy access)
  25. The Spit + Hood River Event Site (Hood River's sandy playground)
  26. Hood River Waterfront Park (Hood River's best spot for kids)
  27. Three Bears Recreation Site (cool pools along the Molalla River)
  28. Big Eddy Picnic Area (another Clackamas River classic)
  29. Cedar Butte Road Bridge (don't jump from the bridge over the Wilson River, but it's adjacent cliffs are perfect)
  30. Wildwood Falls (giant pool at the base of the 15-foot falls surrounded by basalt cliffs)

Caution! Be Safe

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.

Leave No Trace

The Forest Service and other local management agencies are considering closing access to many of these sensitive locations due to excessive trampling of plants, large amounts of garbage, cans and glass bottles, human waste, and toilet paper left behind.  They simply do not have the staff or the funding to attend to these issues.  If you want to continue enjoying these areas, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, use vault toilets and other restroom facilities when provided, and stay on established paths.  Using these areas responsibly will increase the chance that people can continue to enjoy them.


Somewhere in Jackson County. All I remember is I walked for miles.

Kate M.
Hey All, thanks for the great guides! I second Alex's comment. A map feature would help planning trips a lot. Thanks!!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take this down. To start with, these are not even all in Oregon. Those of us who live in southwest Washington really find this frustrating. Second, in the years I've lived in Washington, I've seen the Washougal River turn from a pleasant, local friendly place to visit on a sunny weekend and enjoy swimming with family and friends in a beautiful watershed we pay for through taxes, city water, and the Discover Pass (which is REQUIRED in order to visit the WR), into a horrific scene that looks like the Jersey Shore and Portlandia had a baby and threw it up all up and down the bank of our beloved river. NAKED FALLS IS NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED! This was a place people have been enjoying for generations. Over. We don't even go to this river anymore, and this breaks my heart. About 90% of the cars have Oregon plates, and there is never a time when piles upon piles of trash aren't left sitting by the road. When I moved here, it was because I didn't want to live in Portland, I wanted a quiet town close to nature. I discovered this watershed by getting out and exploring with friends. What kind of adventure is there in posting a list of places where people too lazy to actually find a special place of their own are given a road map to a location where they can also be too lazy to pick up their beer bottles and cigarette butts. I am so sick of seeing this article posted over and over again on facebook, knowing that locals like me have been pushed out of our favorite "Oregon" swimming hole by the absolute worst kind of river rats out there. Shame on you. Since your readers need to be spoon fed directions to nature, next time I try to get a parking spot in my town and enjoy a nice swim, I hope to see you personally out there picking up your readers' trash for them as well.
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