Looking for a cool way to beat the heat of summer? Swimming holes in and around Asheville are the perfect answer. It’s easy to make a day of it, so suit up and head out to one of these natural splash spots.
For those who want to take a quick, in-town dip, Azalea Park, on Asheville’s east side, offers an ideal spot. While the swimming hole – along a stretch of the Swannanoa River that borders the park – is not officially maintained by the city, it draws a crowd with its light current, perfect for a refreshing stop on a hot day. Bonus: There are bathrooms and a playground at the park, so you can make a day of your dip. 498 Azalea Road East in Asheville.
Lake Lure Beach and Water Park
This popular destination – famed as one of the locations where the iconic 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed – boasts a large sandy beach, a children’s park, a waterslide and water games. The lake – 45 minutes from Asheville – is nestled in Hickory Nut Gorge, with a backdrop of majestic mountains. In-season admission is $9/adult and $7/child. 2724 Memorial Hwy in Lake Lure
Carolina Hemlocks, a shaded recreation area surrounded by thick hemlock forest with a mix of deciduous trees and rhododendrons, sits in Pisgah National Forest adjacent to the South Toe River. It’s the perfect spot for you and your family to swim, tube or even camp. There’s a shaded picnic shelter, as well as hiking trails to explore after your fun in the water. https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233954
The Beach at Lake James
Popular Lake James, about an hour east of Asheville, beckons with its wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concession and kayak/paddleboard rentals. When lifeguards are on duty (from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends), there’s a fee of $5/adult and $4/child. You can make a day or even a weekend of your visit, thanks to the lake’s camping options. In addition to water activities, take in the trails – all 25 miles of them – either by foot, or on mountain bike (where designated). https://www.ncparks.gov/lake-james-state-park
This 12-foot waterfall spills into a wide, open pool, perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. The fourth waterfall on the Little River in DuPont State Forest, Hooker is easy to access via a short trail from the main parking area, which is equipped with a bathroom for changing. After swimming (and remember to take caution around waterfalls, never standing at the top), you can easily hike to the other falls – Triple, High and Bridal Veil – along a well-marked trail. https://www.dupontforest.com/explore/hooker-falls/
This favorite natural mountain waterfall in Pisgah National Forest offers the ultimate in water slide action. Fans line up to ride down the 60-foot flat, sloping rock, splashing at the bottom into a chilly, 8-foot-deep pool. If you’d rather watch than participate, there’s an observation deck to take in all the action. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48156
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