Top 20 NC Mountain Swimming Holes

20 Mountain Swimming Holes near Asheville

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. Also, watch our Photo Tour of the Top 10 Swimming Holes. Enjoy!

Best Mountain Swimming Spots

Sliding Rock
Sliding Rock
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.
Skinny Dip Falls
Skinny Dip Falls
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.
Hooker Falls
Hooker Falls
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 NC
Turtleback Falls
This natural water slide on the Horsepasture River drops into a deep, refreshing pool. It's near the beautiful Rainbow Falls, accessed from Gorges State Park with a 3.5-mile roundtrip hike.
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
Nantahala River Jump Off Rock
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!
Lake Glenville & Signal Ridge Marina
Lake Glenville
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers is the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. There's even a beach!
Cashiers Sliding Rock
Cashiers Sliding Rock
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.
Lake James beach
Lake James
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.
Silver Run Falls
Silver Run Falls
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.
Bust Your Butt Falls
Bust Your Butt Falls
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.
Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls
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).
Deep Creek Tubing
Deep Creek Tubing
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.
Elk River Falls
Elk River Falls
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.
Upper Creek Falls
Upper Creek Falls
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.
Asheville Outdoor Center
Asheville Outdoor Center
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.
Green River Tubing
Green River Tubing
Rent a tube and set sail for a lazy day on the beautiful Green River near Saluda. Choose from three to six mile float trips. It's great for beginner kayakers too. Tubing companies provide transportation.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
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.
Lake Lure NC
Lake Lure
Swin and sun on a sandy beach in the mountains at 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.
Schoolhouse Falls
Schoolhouse Falls
(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.
Graveyard Fields
Graveyard Fields Waterfalls
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.
Wildcat Lake NC
Wildcat Lake
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children, there is no admission fee, but they appreciate donations. 


Watch our featured Swimming Holes video: Skinny Dip Falls

Waterfalls
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!

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