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Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Tyson Gillard | 06.30.2021

In the state with the most rainfall in the lower 48, Washingtonians put up with a lot of gray sky, so we think its fair to say that there's no other population more deserving of bluebird summer days. And, luckily all that rainfall equates to an evergreen state sprinkled with the best rivers, waterfalls, lakes... and, yes, swimming holes. Simply, Washington is flush with relaxing places to cool off and have fun when the heat of the summer arrives. Just be sure to play it safe; much of Washington's river water is extremely cold, coming straight from snow or glacial melt. When in doubt, stay out.  

So, to get your summer kicked off just right, we've assembled a list of Washington's 50 best swimming holes.

We'll admit, there are many favorite spots that we've probably missed, and, unfortunately the eastern half of the state is severely underrepresented...something we hope to remedy over time. But all-in-all, if you get the chance to hit up just a few of these spots this summer, we know you won't be disappointed! We've also left out beaches on the sound (salt water), which we'll leave for another post.

For each adventure we've assigned a set of tags, or key attributes you'll likely care about. They are:

  • Kid-friendly (KF)
  • Sandy beach (SB)
  • Cliff jumping (CJ)
  • Restrooms/Vault toilets (RR)
  • Hike-in required (H)

​Bellingham + Mount Baker Area

  1. Whatcom Falls + Whirlpool Falls (CJ)
  2. Baker Lake, Lower Sandy Beach + Campsites (RR)

San Juan Islands

  1. Lake Dale Resort + Campground (KF, RR)

Western Olympic Peninsula

  1. Lake Crescent Lodge Beach (KF, RR)
  2. Lake Crescent, La Poel Day Use Area (RR)
  3. Lake Crescent, Fairholme Beach (KF, RR)


Hood Canal + Eastern Olympic Peninsula

  1. Lake Cushman, Bear Gulch Day Use Area (KF, RR)
  2. Lake Cushman, The Big Rock (CJ)
  3. Lake Cushman, Skokomish Park Beach + Day Use Area (KF, RR)
  4. Lake Cushman, North Shore West
  5. Lake Cushman, North Shore East

Chehalis/Lower Cowlitz Area

  1. Louis Rasmussen Day Use Park (KF, SB, RR)

Seattle/Tacoma Metro Area

  1. Enatai Beach Park (KF, SB, RR)
  2. East + West Green Lake Beach + Swimming Area (KF, SB, RR)
  3. Lake Washington, Warren G. Magnuson Park (KF, SB, RR)
  4. Lake Washington, Marsh Park (KF, RR)
  5. Lake Washington, Houghton Beach Park (KF, SB, RR)
  6. Lake Washington, O.O. Denny Park (RR)
  7. Lake Washington, Matthews Beach Park (KF, RR)
  8. Lake Washington, South Canyon Trail Loop (KF)
  9. Lake Washington, Newcastle Beach Park (KF, SB, RR)
  10. Lake Washington, Juanita Beach Park (KF, SB, RR)
  11. Skykomish River, Al Borlin Park
  12. Snoqualmie River, Plum Boat Launch (SB)
  13. Lake Sammamish State Park (KF, SB, RR)
  14. Green River Gorge Swimming Hole (H)

Central Cascades - Stevens Pass

  1. Lake Wenatchee State Park (KF, RR)
  2. Hidden Lake (H)
  3. Ida Creek Campground (CJ)
  4. Lake Serene (H)
  5. Skykomish River, Big Eddy Park (RR)
  6. Rock Island Campground 


Central Cascades - Snoqualmie Pass

  1. South Fork Snoqualmie River Picnic Area (RR)
  2. South Fork Snoqualmie River at Homestead Valley Road Bridge 
  3. Lake Easton State Park Campground (KF, RR)
  4. Kachess Lake Campground (KF, RR)

Mount Rainer Area

  1. Granite, Bertha May + Pothole Lakes (H)
  2. Blue Hole Swimming Area (RR, CJ)
  3. Mowich Lake (RR)

Southwest Washington

  1. Dougan Falls (RR, CJ)
  2. Washougal River, Miles 15-16 (CJ)
  3. Washougal River, Miles 3-5 
  4. Naked Falls (CJ) (Currently CLOSED!)
  5. Moulton Falls (RR, CJ)
  6. Lewis River Falls (RR, CJ)

Eastern Washington

  1. Rowland Lake (KF, RR, CJ)
  2. Granite Point (RR, CJ)
  3. Boulder Beach
  4. Mirabeau Park Swimming Hole 


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.

The above list is a good place to start your research on Washington swimming holes, but the list of freshwater locales to cool off doesn't end here. Discover more great swimming holes, along with hikes, backpacking trips, and other Outdoor Project adventures in the onX Backcountry GPS app


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