The Best Swimming Holes in Oregon

Best Swimming Hole

Maddie Bradshaw

Most of the year Oregon is doused in a perpetual rain, but many people forget how warm and beautiful  it is during the summer season. Whether you’re an adventure bug or just like to dip your toes in the water, here are 10 of the best swimming holes in Oregon to help you beat the heat this weekend.

1. Opal Creek

Opal creek is one of the more famous swimming holes in Oregon. It is located in the wilderness of the Willamette National Forest and guarantees a very unique hiking and swimming experience. The beginning of the trail is about an hour away from Corvallis. Every part of the three-mile hike is surrounded by old trees and the sound of running water. The hike includes a few turns, crystal clear blue waters, and occasionally some mud. The end of the hike reaches Jawbone Flats, where hikers can jump off rocks into a chilling 40 degree pool in the creek.


2. Salmon Falls

If you are an adrenaline junkie this one is for you. These falls are only an hour and a half away from Corvallis located on the North Fork of the Santiam River. This swimming hole provides an experience of cliff jumping into the freezing clear water and it even has a jump as high as 22 ft. For those who aren’t as keen on adrenaline rushes, the river moves slowly so you can just relax and take a swim.


3. Three Pools

This is another swimming hole found in the wilderness of Opal Creek. However this one is much different from the Opal Creek hike. It is almost a guarantee that this will be a popular hangout spot on a sunny day. Located on the Santiam river, three pools is a great place to swim and cliff jump. It is only about an hour and a half away from Corvallis. Beat the heat and bring some friends along with you for this one!


4. Brice Creek Trail

This swimming hole is not one that you stumble upon. This sweet spot is for all of the hikers, bikers, and runners. It is located about an hour south of Eugene in the Umpqua Forest, but it is worth the drive. The trail goes along the opposite side of the current, so hikers get to see the creek weave through the canyons and hills of the forest. This is a great place to go to escape the heat and see some beautiful wildflowers that bloom in early summer.


5. Rowland Lake

This is one swimming hole that offers something other than just the freezing water, which makes the drive worth it. Rowland Lake is in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington, just a few hours outside of Corvallis. Rowland lake is unique because it was created by the Bonneville Dam in the 1930’s. This lake offers a little bit of everything from cliff jumping, to swimming, to cracking a cold one by the shore.


6. Collins Beach

This swimming hole is located at Sauvie Island just off Highway 30 about two hours from Corvallis. The three-mile stretch of sandy beach has a little bit of everything for visitors. There is a lot of swimming, tanning, and beach activities such as volleyball and badminton. This is a great place to come with a group of friends and hangout for the day.


7. Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site

Similar to Collins Beach, this body of water is located right on the edge of Portland. This destination has big open sandy beaches, a bridge for jumping into the water, and a big picnic area. This beach also allows dogs, so it is a great place to let your pets cool off as well!


8. Keenig Creek

This swimming hole is not as well-known as Opal Creek and Three Pools, but just as beautiful. Keenig is located on the Wilson River in the Tillamook State Forest just along the Northern Oregon Coast. This exclusive spot is one of the most serene places along the river. This is a great place to relax, listen to the sounds of nature, and take a dip. These forests have a long history of wildfires and logging but after a long fight, rivers like the Keenig offer prime habitats for fish and wildlife.


9. Clackamas River Float

This swimming hole is located about an hour outside of Corvallis along the Clackamas River. Many hop on their inner tubes and floaties for a nice three and a half hour trip down the the current. There are stopping points along the way to eat a lunch or have a drink. Towards the end of the float there is a rope swing and large pool area where floaters can stop and play around before getting out.


10. Cougar Hot Springs (Terwilliger Hot Springs)

In Oregon, the summer sun is great, but as we all know there is often still some rain. This is a different type of swimming hole. This is a natural hot spring located about an hour outside of Corvallis. Five of the pools offer warm temperatures from 90-112 degrees. This swimming hole is great for a cloudy or rainy summer day. Instead of cooling off, take a soak and be surrounded by the beauty of the canyons and trees.



Photography by Beverly Ngyuen (via