Consider swapping your days as a “beach bum” for life as a “lake lurker.”
Few feelings can match the sensation of diving into a refreshing body of water on a sweltering summer day. But you don’t have to hoof it to one of the coasts to dive into nature. From beautiful lakes to shimmering swimming holes, there are plenty of places between the Atlantic and the Pacific that are sans-saltwater paradises for swimmers.
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WHERE: Jackson County, Tennessee
Cummins Falls State Park is home to 282 acres of beautiful nature—but it’s the eponymous falls that serve as the park’s most notable feature. At 75-feet high, they’re the eighth largest waterfalls in Tennessee by volume. The falls preside over a pool of water that’s sure to be refreshing after you’ve put in the hike that’s required to reach it.
INSIDER TIPTo visit the base of the waterfall, you need to secure a permit ahead of time.
Lake Powell is a remarkable destination for travelers looking to swim, kayak, fish, and hike—just about everything you want from the outdoors. Located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell may be a manmade reservoir, but there’s nothing artificial about the striking views you’ll take in as you navigate through water that winds through canyon walls or simply gazing out at the remarkable rock formations.
In the old days, swimmers and divers looking to experience the waters of the Homestead Crater would have to rappel down into a limestone dome that’s situated over the Homestead Crater. In more recent years, a tunnel was added so that swimmers looking to experience the geothermal destination could more easily access the site. The visual impact of the Crater would be enough to make it notable, but it’s particularly well-known for its warm water—which is naturally heated with its temperature clocking in around 90 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the Crater a unique spot for scuba divers in particular as it’s one of the only places for warm water scuba diving in the continental U.S.
WHERE: California and Nevada
Lake Tahoe might be most renowned as a ski destination, but that doesn’t mean the warmer months equate to an off-season. The lake’s crystalline waters are the perfect antidote to summer heatwaves as the water is always on the cooler side (the temperature of the water tends to max out around 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Just be on the lookout for any ursine bathers that might be looking to cool off alongside you.
As wonderful as Lake Tahoe may be, it’s not the only lake with crystalline waters and stunning views of snow-clad mountaintops. Redfish Lake in Idaho features dazzlingly blue, clear water that you can sink into while enjoying the vista of the nearby Sawtooth Mountains. Plus, if you want to keep your close connection with nature going once the day is over, there are plenty of camping sites that are right next to the water.
Krause Springs is exactly the place to live out your summertime adventure dreams. This 115-acre site features 32 springs that are perfect for exploring on a hot summer day. There are waterfalls, rope swings, plenty of shady nooks, and, of course, plenty of space to simply relax or swim in the water.
Warren Falls is one of several swimming holes that can be found along the Mad River. If you’re feeling particularly brave, there are even a few spots where you can get your adrenaline fix with some cliff jumping. But there’s no shame in sticking to simply wading into the water and maybe doing a little sunbathing on the rocks afterward.
Silver Glen Springs
With its striking, saturated blue-green hues, you might think for a moment that you’ve somehow been transported to some Caribbean waters when, in fact, you are right in Central Florida. Its clear waters and the myriad of aquatic life make this a particularly good spot for snorkelers.
WHERE: New York
For swimmers that like to have a plethora of options available to them, Lake George makes for the perfect summertime destination. There are several different beaches to choose from if you prefer to simply wade out into the water from a sandy shore. Or, if you’re interested in doing more exploring, it’s common for boaters to go out into the various bays and pick a spot in the open water for diving in.
Three Pools, located in the Opal Creek Wilderness, is a spot that offers jaw-dropping beauty as well as a refreshing reprieve from the summer heat. The pools themselves are a crystalline blue-green, punctuated by striking basalt cliffs–all the while you’re nestled amongst the trees so that you’ll feel like the rest of the world (and your worries) are a million miles away.