Few things can be more refreshing than taking a tantalizing—dip in the pouring waters of a scenic waterfall, heading through or under the cascading water, having lunch on a nearby rock while enjoying the soothing soundtrack of the waterfall or exploring the nearby flora and fauna. No matter your fitness and experience level, here you’ll find easy to advanced hikes for awe-inspiring waterfalls, domestically in the US to take a cool dip in.
- Top 10 Best Waterfalls in the US to Take a Dip in and enjoy swimming
- Calf Creek Falls- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
- Hooker Falls – DuPont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina
- McWay Falls – Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California
- Tahquamenon Falls – Paradise, Michigan
- Havasu Falls – Supai, Arizona
- God’s Bath – Sonora, California
- Cedar Creek Falls – San Diego, California
- Lower McCloud Falls – McCloud, California
- Sliding Rock
- North Carolina
- Bridalveil Falls – Yosemite National Park, California
Top 10 Best Waterfalls in the US to Take a Dip in and enjoy swimming
Calf Creek Falls- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Calf Creek Falls is a breathtaking desert waterfall in Utah. Walking between the beautiful mineral-streaked cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, you’ll pass beaver ponds and pre-historic rock art spots en route to the heavenly pools.
The crystal clear waters of Lower Calf Creek take a 130′ plunge over a sandstone cliff into a deep swimming hole underneath them with crystal clear cool water.
Best of all, you are warmly invited to take a dip in this desert oasis. Although, the entire creek is covered by greenery, especially the underneath part with the spray of the waterfall.
The Lower Calf Creek Falls are the most popular of the two waterfalls and have more visitors every year than the other one.
On the other hand, the Upper Calf Creek Falls are 88 feet high. It doesn’t have much water spilling over the edge that the lower falls have, but, the scenic beauty of the waterfall is still impressive. Swimming is possible here as well with a smaller crowd and much more relaxing.
Hooker Falls – DuPont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina
Although Hooker Falls is just a 12-ft. waterfall. However, its wide drop into a pool made a scenic setting and a fun site for splashing around on sizzling summer days.
Hooker Falls is the fourth one on the Little River in DuPont State Forest. And the only waterfall area that is safe for swimming. Want to ride a kayak over a waterfall or tour on an inflatable raft, Hooker Falls give you a big basin for a variety of water fun activities.
It is one of the best waterfalls in the US to take a dip in with your furry pet. Note: Only leashed pets are allowed.
You can take a 1/4-mile trail from the parking area to reach there. First, you’ll come to an observation deck above the falls for an extraordinary view. Next, continue on the trail to the pool that is in front of the waterfall.
There are many rocks to sit, enjoy the view, and throw a picnic. You can also find a separate paved trail that is wheelchair accessible and even open for a scooter. Accessible during daylight hours and no admission fee is required.
The serene pool at the base of Hooker Falls is part of the great Cascade Lake, no worries about a strong current. Restrooms and changing rooms are available in the parking area.
A visitors center is just a one-mile drive away at the High Falls access.
McWay Falls – Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California
You can’t enjoy the California sun fully without a McWay Falls swim. McWay Falls is one of its kinds of waterfalls in the US to take a dip in, as it flows directly into the ocean.
Thus, you can also enjoy the oceanic breeze. Regarded as one of the most beautiful places in California, this 80ft waterfall and beach are nestled in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
It isn’t far from the road near Big Sur. The most popular Big Sur photo was taken from McWay Falls.
However, it may not be the easiest to find and that’s part makes it so thrilling. You have to opt for a short hike along a trail in the scenic Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
During that trial, you will enjoy both the northern and southern serene coastal views. After this, you’ll enjoy McWay falls with your friend and family. Even, you can have some secluded moments here all with yourself and the waterfall music.
Tahquamenon Falls – Paradise, Michigan
Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls lies in the centerpiece of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Further, it is the very reason for its existence.
The Tahquamenon Falls State Park comprises 50,000 acres of land stretching over 13 miles in Paradise. The larger area of this state park is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings, or power lines.
There are two waterfalls named the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. The upper one is the largest waterfall in the east of the Mississippi with a drop of almost 50 feet and is over 200 feet across.
It has been recorded that there is a maximum flow of over 50,000 gallons of water per second cascading from these falls.
The Lower Falls is four miles downstream with a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. This is a family-friendly waterfall. So, take a dip near Tahquamenon Falls’ Lower Falls and have a fun experience to cherish with your family.
It is one of the most amazing waterfalls in the US to take a dip in its golden-brown colored water. It is caused by tannins from cedar swamps that drain into the river and that’s why it is also known as Rootbeer Falls. Autumn comes with shades of green and blue water.
Further, there is also Tahquamenon’s track chair that helps visitors in exploring the areas of the park where traditional wheelchairs might not work. Because these off-road, free electronic chairs smoothly handle trails, snow, sand, and up to 8 inches of water. However, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Havasu Falls – Supai, Arizona
Havasu Falls is cascading in a far-flung area of the Grand Canyon, aptly named Havasupai. It means “people of the blue-green waters”.
Falling among the fiery red rock canyon walls, the transparent waters of the Havasu falls take on remarkable hues due to high concentrations of calcium carbonate and magnesium.
The waters fall into incredible swimming holes about 5ft (1.8m) deep. It offers one of the most breathtaking spots to swim on the planet.
Although it is more powerful than Navajo Falls, however still swimmable. Even non-swimmers can also enjoy the refreshing water by putting down their feet in the water.
The best thing is that you can swim behind the falls and probe the secret corners of the cliffs.
Havasu Creek’s water temperature is about 70°F/21°C all around the year which is perfect for swimming. However, don’t go in March or late October because the weather outside is relatively cold at about 40-70°F/5-21°C.
Keep in mind that the peak season of July and August comes with crowds. And also gets hot at around 115°F/46°C is ideal for floating but not so perfect for hiking.
Best to visit between April and October to take a cool dip. This place is considered sacred by the Havasupai. It isn’t easy to reach as it needs a 10-mile hike, mule, or horse ride to get there.
More importantly, make sure not to do cliff jumping because it is not allowed there. Also, dogs, littering, alcohol, drugs, and drones are prohibited. Don’t hike at night and during a flood.
God’s Bath – Sonora, California
Besides swimming under the waterfalls, God’s Bath offers an amazing experience of cliff jumping, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
It is situated outside the Sonora town and pampered in a remote area of the Sierra Nevada Foothills. This cliff jumper’s fantasy features towering boulder formations.
God’s Bath gives an incredible combo of deep and shallow crystal clear water with reflecting deep blues and blacks.
A stunning attraction is The granite bridge – one can swim underneath and pop out in a hole milled out by the stream.
Make sure to get good boots for about a 2.5-mile moderate and unmarked hike to reach there.
Cedar Creek Falls – San Diego, California
In Southern California, Cedar Creeks Falls is one of the best waterfalls in the US to take a summer dip in. Cedar Creeks Falls are looking spectacular during winter.
As the season rains pour down to the 80-feet cascade of water and make it a fantasy land. Situated in San Diego, California, the trail that directs to the falls also takes you through the scenic San Diego backcountry.
Here, you can see the chaparral plants that bloom in the area. Do a little bird watching as it is known for the high number of bird species that call it home.
It is a natural freshwater lagoon that is covered by an amphitheater of rock formations. Cedar Creek is a famous spot to take a cool dip in the crystal clear water and relish the tranquility of the natural surroundings.
The best time to visit is after a good downpour and you can swim right under the falls to enjoy the water cascading down.
In the dry season, the falls still flow lovely mint-pure mountain water into the lagoon surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. The rainforest is filled with strangler figs and towering cedar trees.
Keep in mind, don’t opt to leap off of the very high ledges, which have a drop of almost 30 meters. Despite having many warning signs posted, it has unfortunately claimed the lives of numerous tourists and locals alike.
Lower McCloud Falls – McCloud, California
No summer is complete in Northern California without a cool dip in Lower McCloud Falls which is the lowest of the 3 levels of what is known as the McCloud River Falls.
You will enjoy a big and rejuvenating pool of the waterfall, below. You can unwind and sunbathe here on the nearby rocks. Another positive aspect is that it is one of the most easily accessible waterfalls in the US to take a dip in.
Reached by both trail and road. Thus, pick your preference and take a summer cool escape.
Moreover, the river’s waters are generally quite cold but it means an extra dose of freshness on those searing summer days. While opting for a swim in the pool at the waterfall’s base, jumping is discouraged because of the submerged boulders.
This is an incredible rock waterfall that is so smooth just like a water slide. The cool waters give a fantastic escape from the scorching summer sun.
For slipping and sliding down this natural mountain waterfall slide, you’ll have to take your turn here. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, it attracts thousands of tourists each summer to ride the nippy waters flowing down from a 60-foot flat, sloping boulder.
And fun splashing into an eight-foot-deep pool below. Around 11,000 gallons of water pour down the rock every minute, making it one of the most thrilling waterfalls in the US to take a dip in.
Bridalveil Falls – Yosemite National Park, California
Just like its name – Bridalveil Falls, it looks like the veil a bride wears at her wedding. A short walk will take you to the base of Bridalveil Fall and offer you to get a close look at this exquisite waterfall.
At 620 feet, Bridalveil Fall is the first waterfall you’ll encounter when entering Yosemite Valley. Although the waterfall trail is open all year round, however, you should know that the water is at its peak in spring and early summer, thus, you can expect to get wet!
Even in some cases, the spray is so intense that you may not easily access the end of the trail. Expect icy and very slick conditions in winter, though the view will be breathtaking.
Although, the trail is paved that leads you from the parking area to the base of the waterfall, however, it is not wheelchair accessible due to its grade.
Stay safe by staying on the paved trail because the rocks and boulders above the viewing platform are slippery even when dry. That’s why scrambling off the paved trail in this area will be so dangerous.
Drinking water is not available at the trailhead, base of the waterfall, or parking area. So, arrange it in advance.
You’ll find restrooms in the parking area. Parking is also available at the trailhead, accessible from Wawona Road or Southside Drive.
The good news for fury lovers is that leashed pets are allowed on this trail. Keep your pet food within your arm’s reach at all times.
Do not feed the wildlife in any case. Shuttle service is not accessible to the Bridalveil Fall area.
Note: The trail to Bridalveil Fall is currently closed due to the Bridalveil Fall Rehabilitation Project. Check the website for the latest information before planning to go there.
Final Few Words
Above are some best waterfalls in the US to take a cool dip in the summer season. They are natural, pure, God-gifted, and priceless.
Thus, leave nothing but your footprints behind and take nothing but experiences with you.
Check also: Best Spring Break Beach Destinations in the US
She started BeachXplore as a traveling blog covering particularly amazing beaches which she was lucky to visit and research about. Here you can find her writings on the best beaches, guides on beach wear, items, and more.