Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
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.

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.

Note: Significant crowding, vandalism, and disruptive behavior have resulted in several new regulations. The implementation of these regulations follows an extensive public comment period. Effective May 26, 2017:

  • Cars will be turned away once the 90-space parking lot for Three Pools is full, and parking will no longer be allowed outside of the parking lot.
  • Significantly, alcohol is now prohibited at the Three Pools Recreation Site.
  • Campfires are now prohibited along the route from the Opal Creek Gate Trailhead to Jawbone Flats. Parking will only be allowed within a quarter mile of the trailhead.
  • Camping is prohibited for 5 miles up Road 46 along the Breitenbush River 500 feet from the roadway.
  • Camping is prohibited at Elk Lake outside of the official Elk Lake Campground.
  • Dispersed camping is prohibited for the first 2 miles up French Creek Road and 8 miles on Blowout Creek Road.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)


Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Open Year-round



Excellent swimming and cliff-jumping.


Heavy crowds. Cold water.


Sensitive Habitat


Nearby Lodging + Camping


The water is gonna be the clearest you've ever seen!
Went there today with some kiddos that I nanny (11 and up). It was a week day and I expected more people than there was there! VERY surprised, but more people started showing up around 2:00. I did see broken glass while we were out there, but not much. The water was a lot colder than expected, but it was nice and clear. I don't think I would want to be in this area on a weekend, because of the crowds. Overall, great swimming place!
Beware of broken glass in the river.
Glass containers NOT ALLOWED, but ignored.
Popular party spot.
We expect crowds, noise,underage drinking, and lots of trash.
C'mon people- if you carried it in, haul it out.
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