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The summer heat has settled in and is here to stay for a while. Arkansas is home to many swimming holes thanks to an abundance of rivers and lakes. Some are well-known, and some exist off the beaten path, but all are refreshing. Grab your swimsuit, gather the kids and check out a few of our favorites.
We’ve listed 15 of our favorite swimming holes below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. If we’ve overlooked one in your neck of the woods, you can probably find it on this helpful map.
Crowley’s Ridge State Park‘s swimming hole includes a sandy beach, a water slide, and access to paddle boats. The swim beach is open from noon to 6 pm, Monday through Thursday and from noon to 7 pm on the weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Spring River enters Arkansas at Mammoth Spring State Park, flowing at a rate of nine million gallons per hour, ensuring cold waters are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Several public access points are available along Route 63 between Mammoth Spring and Hardy. The river is also a popular floating river with several launch points and shuttle services.
Located adjacent to the rest area between Pleasant Plains and Batesville, the Salado Creek Swim Hole has been a popular spot for decades. The water stays cool, and there are several shallow areas along with several deeper swimming holes. An old but sturdy wooden ladder and rope swing will provide hours of excitement.
This icy cold stream flows from Greers Ferry Lake thanks to a restoration pipe added after the creation of the Greers Ferry dam. More of a wading stream than a swimming hole, the creek has tumbling falls and plenty of places to relax and cool off after a day of fishing or hiking. Collins Creek is the only natural trout steam in Arkansas and features both brown and rainbow trout. Fishing is reserved for only those ages 16 and under and is catch and release only. The falls are a short walk from a parking area, and you can enter at the top or the bottom.
Located just west of Hot Springs, this park and swimming hole are kid-friendly. Play on the playground or enjoy lunch in the covered picnic area before you take a dip in the creek. It’s the perfect break after visiting the historic bathhouses.
Gunner Pool is located about a small dam that flows into the north section of Sylamore Creek and is one of the most popular recreation spots in the area. Originally called Camp Hodges, there is a small picnic and camping area located near the kid-friendly swimming hole. Bonus: While you are in Fifty-Six, don’t miss the creek swimming at Blanchard Springs.
Photo by Julie Kohl.
Sylamore Creek is a cold and refreshing location popular for both swimming and kayaking. Several access points include Sylamore Creek Campground and Anglers Holiday Mountain Resort, which provide day use access and boat rentals for a nominal fee. Visitors to the area will also want to check out the famous Swinging Bridge, which crosses Sylamore Creek.
Cossatot State Park Natural Area has a lot to offer, and visiting this state park should be on your bucket list. After visiting the park, head to the Sandbar Bridge, where you’ll find a beautiful swimming hole ideal for fishing and enjoying time with the family.
The Richland Wilderness has several great swimming spots, but Richland Creek is a hands-down favorite. The water is crystal clear, cool and deep enough for jumping or floating around on an inflatable.
There is no shortage of swimming holes along the Buffalo National River, but Grinder’s Ferry is a favorite because of its easy access from Hwy 65. Grinder’s Ferry can fill up fast on warm days, but you can always head down the road just a short way to Shine Eye. And don’t forget to grab a sandwich at Coursey’s for a tasty picnic lunch.
Little Missouri Falls is a favorite swimming hole in the area located within the Albert Pike Recreation Area. The swimming hole requires almost no hiking and the parking area is easily accessible by any vehicle. Although the campground is now closed, the recreation area has restrooms and picnic spots that make this a prime location.
This swimming hole is a short hike from the parking area and has several deep pools that are perfect for swimming. Long Pool is another popular spot located about a mile down the road, along with camping and picnic areas.
The Mulberry River has many great swimming holes, with a favorite located within the Wolf Pen Recreation Area. The swimming hole at Redding Recreation Area closer to Cass also offers a deep swimming hole with ample room for relaxing along the shoreline.
The King’s River is a popular floating river and Trigger Gap is a cherished swimming hole in the area. The swimming hole is flanked by gravel beaches but is best enjoyed when water levels are higher if you want the full swimming experience.
This fun swimming hole is located on the Alum Fork of the Saline River. There are a few parking spots, but they can fill up on hot days and weekends. Head upstream of the low water bridge for the deeper swimming areas.
All photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism unless otherwise noted.
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