Best Swimming Hole (2015)


Nothing says "summer" quite like cooling off in a local swimming hole, and the U.S. is full of them. For the past four weeks USA TODAY 10Best readers have been voting daily for their favorite summer swimming hole, and the results are in!

  • Madison Blue Springs

    Madison Blue Springs
    Lee, Fla.

    Measuring 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep, Madison Blue Springs sits within one of Florida's newest state Parks. This secret swimming hole shaded by hardwood and pine trees along the Withlacoochee River is a popular destination for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and scuba diving, and an ideal place to cool off away from Florida's summer beach crowds.
    Photo courtesy of Paul Clark / Flickr

  • Falling Water Falls

    Falling Water Falls
    Sand Gap, Ark.

    The beautiful little 10-foot waterfall in the Arkansas Ozarks called Falling Water Falls doubles as a popular summer swimming hole. Unlike some other popular swimming destinations, Falling Water Falls sits just off the roadside, so there's practically no hiking required to take advantage of the stunning turquoise waters.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Bridal Veil Falls

    Bridal Veil Falls
    Tallulah Falls, Ga.

    At Bridal Veil Falls, located within Georgia's Tallulah Gorge State Park, water runs 17 feet down a gently sloped rock face, nicknamed Sliding Rock. Visitors who hike Sliding Rock Trail to the falls can take advantage of Mother Nature's water slide to cool off in a turquoise pool in the Tallulah River – the only place for swimming inside the park. Permits are limited and often run out early on hot summer weekends.
    Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

  • Warren Falls

    Warren Falls
    Warren, Vt.

    One of the best swimming holes in Vermont – if not all of New England – is the pool formed at the base of Warren Falls. The clear, emerald waters of the three pools range in depth from 1 to 10 feet, making it an ideal swimming spot for all ages. The area also includes a natural water slide and a few spots for cliff jumping.
    Photo courtesy of Qfamily / Flickr

  • Slide Rock

    Slide Rock
    Sedona, Ariz.

    Located 7 miles north of Sedona, Slide Rock State Park houses a smooth natural water slide formed from red sandstone that cascades into a cooling swimming hole. During the hot and dry Arizona summers, the park often sees capacity crowds coming to cool off at this picturesque desert waterfall.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Cummins Falls

    Cummins Falls
    Cookeville, Tenn.

    For over 100 years residents of Jackson and Putnam Counties in Tennessee have been coming to the 75-foot waterfall within Cummins Falls State Park to cool off in the summer. The state's eighth largest waterfall forms a scenic swimming hole with a few shorter terraced cascades perfect for climbing. The park also boasts shaded picnic areas for munching before and after the swim.
    Photo courtesy of Brenton Rogers / Wikimedia Commons

  • Johnson's Shut-Ins

    Johnson's Shut-Ins
    Middlebrook, Mo.

    Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri gets its name from the series of private pools formed over thousands of years as the Black River gradually eroded the volcanic stone. This natural water park in the Ozarks makes the ideal setting for summer swimming and splashing.
    Photo courtesy of Brad Kebodeaux / Flickr

  • Sliding Rock

    Sliding Rock
    Brevard, N.C.

    Sometimes Mother Nature does it better, and such is the case at Sliding Rock in North Carolina. This natural water slide within Pisgah National Forest lets visitors slip down a 60-foot slippery rock face into a 7-foot-deep pool. Water temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees feel delightfully refreshing in the summer heat.
    Photo courtesy of Lincolnh / Wikimedia Commons

  • Three Sisters Springs

    Three Sisters Springs
    Crystal River, Fla.

    Three Sisters Springs inside Florida's Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge provides the unique opportunity to cool off with some very unique swimming companions. The year-round 72-degree waters provide an oasis for West Indian Manatees who share the sparkling water with visitors who come to swim, snorkel, canoe or kayak.
    Photo courtesy of - Photography by Joe Detrick 2012

  • Havasu Falls

    Havasu Falls
    Havasu Canyon, Ariz.

    One of the nation's most beautiful waterfalls is also one of the top swimming holes. Havasu Falls, located within Havasu Canyon just outside Grand Canyon National Park, is named in the Havasupai language after its other-worldly blue-green waters. The swimming hole at the base of the 100-foot falls provides ample rewards for those who brave the somewhat strenuous hike to get there.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Taking the title of Best Swimming Hole by a wide margin is Madison Blue Springs in Lee, Fla. This secret swimming hole shaded by hardwood and pine trees along the Withlacoochee River is a popular destination for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and scuba diving.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Swimming Hole are as follows:

  1. Madison Blue Springs - Lee, Fla.
  2. Falling Water Falls - Sand Gap, Ark.
  3. Bridal Veil Falls - Tallulah Falls, Ga.
  4. Warren Falls - Warren, Vt.
  5. Slide Rock - Sedona, Ariz.
  6. Cummins Falls - Cookeville, Tenn.
  7. Johnson's Shut-Ins - Middlebrook, Mo.
  8. Sliding Rock - Brevard, N.C.
  9. Three Sisters Springs - Crystal River, Fla.
  10. Havasu Falls - Havasu Canyon, Ariz.

Other nominees for Best Swimming Hole included Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, N.M.; Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, Texas; Devil's Den Springs in Williston, Fla.; Devil's Waterhole in Burnet, Texas; Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, Texas; Jacob's Well in Wimberley, Texas; Juniper Springs in Silver Springs, Fla.; Queen's Bath in Kauai, Hawaii; The Sinks in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Three Pools in Santiam River, Ore.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

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