Here are our favorite natural swimming holes in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville to cool off on a hot summer's day. Sliding Rock is always the most popular (and most crowded). Only Sliding Rock and the beaches at Lake Lure and Lake James have lifeguards. So be very careful. We've included a few safe waterfalls that have room for splashing around at the base. Never get into water above a waterfall since the currents can be very strong. Enjoy!
Best Mountain Swimming Spots
The most popular natural waterslide in North Carolina for generations is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. Slide down a 60-foot smooth rock waterfall into a pool of chilly water. Bathrooms and showers are open and lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway via a 1/2-mile hiking trail, Skinny Dip has beautiful waterfalls, a jumping off rock and several areas to soak and wade in very cool mountain waters.
Swim or float in a pool below the 12-foot waterfall in DuPont State Forest. Jump from a rope swing and walk behind the falls.
Turtleback Falls on the Horsepasture River drops into a pool for a fun water slide for good swimmers. It's near the beautiful Rainbow Falls, accessed from Gorges State Park. It requires a hike of approximately four miles roundtrip.
Enjoy riverside sunning and splashing at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Just a few miles up river is Jump Off Rock. There is a small parking area along U.S. Highway 74. If you are rafting, you can park your raft, climb and jump!
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers is the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Find plenty of things to do, including tubing, skiing, paddle boarding, knee boarding, waterfalls swimming and fishing. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. Open April-October.
Near Cashiers is another "Sliding Rock", created by the Chattooga River gliding over a 10-foot high rock face. It's a popular local spot during the summer because the water is quite cool. You can slide down the rock, cannonball into one of the potholes or just wade in the pool below the rock.
This state park has a wide beach with a nice pavilion with changing rooms, open for swimming May-September. Also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and more.
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-foot waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
Located along U.S. Highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin, these casades are also known as Quarry Falls or Bust-Yer-Butt Falls. For added excitement, there is a "jump off" rock for diving into the chilly waters.
Just two miles from Sliding Rock is this roadside 60-foot waterfall in Pisgah National Forest with a pool for wading (but not the best for swimming).
Rent a tube and float down Deep Creek on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City. Float by one waterfall and hike to two others.
Located near Beech Mountain and Banner Elk is a 50-foot waterfall that cascades over a rock cliff into a picturesque oval pool. Just below the oval pool is a popular summer spot for swimming and sunning on the rocks. Formerly called Big Falls, it's in Pisgah National Forest and reached via a short walk.
This beautiful waterfall setting has multiple cascades and a swimming hole with a rope swing for diving! Located in Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181, about 13.5 miles north of Morganton. It's about a half mile hike from the parking area.
Kayak, paddleboard, raft or tube down the French Broad River in Asheville through the Biltmore Estate. And rent a bike or mine for gems. Just five miles from downtown.
Rent a tube and set sail for a lazy day on the beautiful Green River near Saluda. This section is appropriate for all ages and you can choose from one to six mile float trips. It's great for beginner kayakers too. But you should be a decent swimmer and bring a life jacket. Tubing companies provide transportation.
With four rivers (French Broad, Pigeon, Nantahala, and Nolichucky) for rafting and kayaking in the mountains. Find professional companies that provide rafting guides, so no experience is necessary. You can even learn how to kayak in the rapids or paddleboard on a lake.
Enjoy a sandy beach in the mountains on Lake Lure, near Chimney Rock. Nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge, the lake is surrounded by lush mountain tops and sheer granite cliffs. Rent a pontoon or electric boat, canoe or kayak at the marina.
(2.5 mile roundtrip hike, easy) The cascade in Panthertown Valley in Nantahala National Forest is small, but really big on beauty with a great pool for a splash.
This popular hiking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway has two waterfalls. Second Falls (in pic) is just 1/3 mile walk from the Parkway. Upper Falls is on a four-mile loop trail in the mile-high meadow.
Many of the Top 60 Waterfalls that we feature are NOT safe for swimming or even wading. Careless visitors are killed every year from falling or drowning. And rocks around waterfalls are often very slippery. Stay on the trails!