In the summer months when the sun is beating down there is nothing more cooling and relaxing than swimming in cool fresh water. Lucky for the residents of Portland there is an abundance of nearby rivers and lakes to stay cool, and many are located only a short drive from the intense heat of the city center. Check out outdoor swimming safety tips, and then consider one of these popular swimming holes near Portland, Oregon…
1. Opal Creek Pool – one of the best natural swimming pools in Oregon
This is one of the most popular near Portland, although it can take up to 2 hours to drive depending on traffic it is well worth it. Located at the base of Opal Creek this 25-foot deep blue swimming hole is ideal for just taking a relaxing swim or jumping from the rock ledges above.
You will need to park up and walk just over 3 miles down a dirt track, which only makes you want to get into the water even quicker. Some people suggest it is the state’s most picturesque place to swim.
Address: Opal Creek TrailOregon 97346, USA
2. High Rocks Park – a very popular public park and swimming hole in Oregon
Located on the Clackamas River High Rocks is an adventure playground for children and adults. Easy to find due to its proximity to Interstate 205, it can become crowded in the summer months but still worth a visit to swim and for the more adventurous jumping from the rocky cliffs.
Picnicking, sunbathing, are among many of its attractions. Open all year round and only 17 miles from Portland City it is a favorite among city dwellers, ample parking, picnic sites, drinking water, and restrooms are all provided and the park is free of charge.
Note: Please be careful if you are going to jump from the cliffs, they are often slippery and there have been accidents in the past, there is now a lifeguard presence but only during the summer months.
Address: 25 82nd Dr, Gladstone, OR 97027, United States
3. Naked Falls – cliff jumping, waterfall slides, and plenty of dry rock space for picnics and sunbathing
Naked Falls has numerous points for swimming and cliff jumping on summer days, the crisp freshwater will cool you down the instant you get in.
Nobody is really sure why it’s called Naked Falls, it just is. With shaded picnic areas, it is a family getaway for the day, the flat rocks are also perfect for sunbathing and topping up that tan.
A short walk from the parking area, although short it can be a bit steep for some, the area is beautiful and relaxing although at the height of summer can be a bit busy for some.
Address: Stevenson, WA 98648, United States
4. Sauvie Island – head for the long sandy beach which is popular with sunbathers and swimmers
Sauvie Island is huge, approximately the same size as Manhattan. It is one of the biggest river islands in the United States and has so much to offer for children and adults alike.
Sitting beside the Columbia River and the Willamette River and only 10 miles from downtown Portland it is a perfect place to swim on a hot summer’s day.
Hiking, and casual walks along the beach are few alternatives to swimming, but that’s the main reason people come here. The water is nice and even in the summer.
With the island being so big you can always find a secluded spot for swimming with kids and enjoy a picnic. Picturesque, safe and very child-friendly Sauvie Island is the perfect place to cool off and relax.
5. Oneonta Gorge – a great spot for wild swimming in shallow water
This swimming hole will require a short hike to get to the area you want to be, only thing is there is no trail, and the river is the trail.
Be very careful when walking through the river as the stones will be a bit slippy, also not far from the swimming hole there will probably be a log jam.
It is not advised if the wood is wet or has moss on it to try climbing over, it can be very dangerous. That said if you do make it, a gorgeous place to bathe in waiting, and often you will be the only people there.
6. Henry Hagg Lake – a popular swimming spot with families
The lake is a favorite for many people wishing to take a refreshing dip in its cool, deep waters but many people do not know it was man-made in the 70s.
The lake is split into two sections, one for swimming and one for motorized vessels. In the latter part, you can really open up the boat and have no fear of swimmers.
The area around the lake is not just popular with swimmers and boating enthusiasts, bird watching is very popular, cycling, and hiking, unfortunately, overnight camping is prohibited to preserve the local ecology.
Picnic areas are provided for the family to quench their hunger and thirst after a day of adventure. Very much a place for the entire family to spend the day.
7. Moulton Falls – this spot makes a fantastic swimming hole with cool and clean water
Moulton Falls is the big dog for swimming holes. This Regional Park is 387-acres and boasts many attractions for all abilities and ages.
Many people come here for hiking or simply sunbathing out in the beautiful natural setting.
One of its main attractions is its many swimming holes and in the summer months can get quite crowded. Only 1-hour drive from Portland it is ideal for city dwellers to escape the heat.
Address: 27781 NE Lucia Falls Rd, Yacolt, WA 98675, United States
8. Wilson River at Keenig Creek – a serene spot might be one of the calmest, most inviting stretches of river in the Pacific Northwest
Often billed as the calmest part of any river in the Pacific Northwest, it is ideal for swimming and cooling off from the summer heat.
If like-minded people have the same idea as you head further downstream to the mile 15 marker which is rarely crowded.
For a bit more adventure head to the Footbridge area where there is jumps of 10 feet into the freshwater. This definitely a place to bring the kids and feel safe with them in the water, cool, calm, and fairly shallow. You can relax in the shade knowing the daily is fine.
Address: .54342, -.61223, 45 OR-6, Tillamook, OR 97141, United States
9. Lewisville Park – home to swimming holes, picnic tables, playgrounds and picnic shelters
This 154-acre park is an excellent place to escape from the city, only a 45-drive it is truly a stunning area. Family-friendly with large grassy areas for the kids to play and to have a picnic by the river.
The park also boasts many swimming holes to keep you fresh on a summer’s day, the Larch area of the park has a small beach and a fantastic swimming spot.
Not too deep which is great for children and adults alike. The Ponderosa area of the park also has an incredible place to swim but is deeper and faster flowing, not ideal for children but fine for adults.
Address: 26411 NE Lewisville Hwy, Battle Ground, WA 98604, United States
10. Hood River Waterfront Park – a popular swimming beach is close to downtown
A favorite with kids, this large open space with access to the cool waters of the Hood is constantly changing. This is a community-funded project and every year it just gets better and better.
And with the new changes comes new amenities including picnic tables, drinking fountains, improved restrooms, a children’s play area, and viewing platform where you can relax and just watch the river slowly go by.
Certainly not just a favorite spot for locals, people come from miles around to swim in a secure environment.
Address: 650 Portway Ave, Hood River, OR 97031, United States
11. Rooster Rock State Park – a great park for a picnic and an ideal spot for a cool swim
With 3 miles of accessible shoreline even on a busy summer day, you can always find a peaceful spot to cool off in. Just don’t go too far east, it has one of Oregon’s 2 clothing-optional beaches, it is hidden away though.
Before or after a swim you can take a flat hike through the shading of the trees which are teeming with Blacktail deer and plant life which grows very high and very fast.
It is also a bird lover’s paradise, the oak trees are home to hundreds of species. A very tranquil place, dogs are not allowed but everybody else is, bring the family for a pleasant, safe day out.
Address: Corbett, OR 97019, United States
12. Salmon River – has numerous secluded swimming holes along its banks
Salmon River is a naturally stunning area and only about one hours drive from Portland City, perfect for a hot summer’s day.
Swimming here should be mandatory, the water is fresh and cool and the river meanders through the valley with the trees lining each which also gives you a break from the heat.
Other than swimming there are hiking trails amongst the tall trees and kayaking is also a perfect way to enjoy the river. There are also several campsites in the area if you wish to stay longer in this amazing setting.
Address: Salmon River, OR, United States
13. Columbia River Gorge – a popular beauty spot in Oregon
It would be harder to find a more perfect place to swim in Oregon than here, the gorge is ideal not just for taking a dip but for dozens of other activities and heritage.
The gorge is also the windsurfing capital of the world, has miles of trails to explore, a vast amount of wildlife to observe, mountain biking trails, golfing, and kayaking.
Those are just some of the reasons this area is so popular, people come from all over the country just to experience the Columbia River Gorge and its beauty.
Address: 902 Wasco St Suite 200, Hood River, OR 97031, United States
14. Three Pools – beautiful and deep swimming holes in Oregon
This picturesque part of the Little North Fork Santiam River is less than two hours drive from Portland City, but definitely worth it.
Only 100 feet or so from the car park the pools emerge and the first thing you are thinking about is immersing yourself in the clean fresh water.
It never really gets too busy here even in the summer months, so you are able to find a suitable place to put your towel down and spend the afternoon floating in the shaded pools. Lovely place to take the family for some peace and quiet and simply enjoy nature.
Address: Three Pools, OR, United States
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Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued his taste for seeking out new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring everything from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, street food, playing carrom, and fine wine and knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations.