Summer calls for a dip in the water, and we have fresh mountain streams and rivers that you’ll find most refreshing on a hot day. Our list has been compiled through various avenues of research, including tips from local residents. If they love these swimming holes, you’re sure to as well!
If you are unfamiliar with mountain streams, let me tell you that they’re cold. Pack a picnic and refresh yourself in the Maury River at one of these public access points in Rockbridge County:
- Ben Salem Wayside
- Goshen Pass
Upper Little Stoney Falls
Swim or wade at the base of a waterfall!
- Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah National Park
- Dismal Falls, Bland County
- Campbell Creek, Nelson County
- Roaring Run, Botetourt County
- Nottoway Falls, Lunenburg County
- Roaring Run, Eagle Rock
- Big Falls at Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, Russell County
- Little Stony Creek Falls at Little Stony National Recreation Trail, Scott County
Dismal Falls, photo credit: Michael Speed, IG account: @photosbyspeed
Choosing your James River access point can be tricky, as this gem can roar mightily in certain areas, especially after a heavy rain upstream. Try these locations, but never swim alone.
- Headwaters of the James, Botetourt County
- Horseshoe Bend, Scottsville
- James River State Park, Buckingham County
- Pony Pasture, Richmond
- Belle Isle Historic Park, Richmond
- Jamestown Beach Park, Williamsburg
- Huntington Park, Newport News
Splash around in the oldest river in North America, the New River, at New River Trail State Park in Foster Falls.
Blue Hole – many river towns have a special swimming hole they dub “Blue Hole.” Aforementioned Goshen Pass is sometimes known as Blue Hole by locals, and it turns out that University of Virginia students love their own “Blue Hole” on Moormans River near the Sugar Hollow Reservoir in Crozet. This swimming hole is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park.
Dunlap Creek beneath Humpback Bridge
Dunlap Creek flows beneath the renowned Humpback Bridge in Alleghany County. When the water’s high enough, it’s a great place for a dip. Otherwise, dipping your toes works, too, at this beautiful, historic site.
Craig Creek Recreation Area is 130 acres in Botetourt County that’s available for camping, picnics, and of course, swimming! The water is gentle and perfect for families.
While there’s no designated swimming area (like a beach) at Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park on the Shenandoah River in Warren County, you can wade out and splash around or tube to your heart’s content.
Shenandoah River, Photo Credit: Johnny Molloy
Off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Rockbridge County at Petite’s Gap (milepost 71) is an unmarked gravel road (Petite’s Gap Road). Descend, winding, for several miles until you cross East Fork Elk Creek in Sulphur Spring Hollow. At the second crossing, pull off – your swimming hole is in that vicinity.
St. Mary’s River is home to St. Mary’s Falls, which can be found in Saint Mary’s Wilderness in Augusta County. This swimming hole includes a rock slide, which can be great fun if the water level is just right. It’s just south of the falls.
Please enjoy Virginia’s swimming holes with a friend; never swim alone. Also, follow “Leave No Trace” practices when experiencing any part of Virginia’s outdoors.
Which of these have you been to? Which do you love that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment to tell us all about it.
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