Here are our favorite natural swimming holes in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville to cool off in on a hot summer day. Only Sliding Rock and the beaches at Lake Lure and Lake James have lifeguards. So, be very careful and be a good swimmer. We've included a few safe waterfalls that have room for splashing around at the base. Never get into the water above a waterfall since the currents can be very strong.
Best Mountain Swimming Spots
Looking Glass Falls
Roadside 60-ft. waterfall in Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Enjoy from the parking area or take the steps down for an up-close look. 10 miles from Blue Ridge… read more
DuPont State Forest Hidden Lakes
(4 miles, moderate) Discover some hidden lakes on the quieter side of DuPont State Recreational Forest, as well as an airstrip with a great mountain view. Fawn Lake and Lake Julia are great… read more
Elk River Falls
Located near Beech Mountain and Banner Elk is a 50-ft. waterfall that cascades over a rock cliff into a picturesque oval pool. Just below the pool is a popular summer spot for swimming and sunning… read more
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… read more
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… read more
(2.5-mile round-trip hike, moderate) This waterfall in Panthertown Valley in Nantahala National Forest is small, but really big on beauty with a great pool for a splash. Extend your hike to a 5-… read more
This serene swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is near popular Rainbow Falls and the natural water slide Turtleback Falls. It's family-friendy but a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike to reach.
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… read more
Beach at Lake James
Our top mountain beach is found at Lake James State Park, with a wide sandy beach, bathhouse, concessions and kayak / paddleboard rentals. Nearby, camp, picnic, hike and mountain bike.
Skinny Dip Falls
Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway via a 3/4-mile hiking trail, Skinny Dip has beautiful waterfalls, a jumping off rock and several areas to soak and wade in very cool mountain waters.
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… read more
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.
Silver Run Falls
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-ft. waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
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.
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… read more
Whaleback Swimming Hole
This secluded swimming spot in Pisgah National Forest is just 5.5 miles from Sliding Rock, down river from Cove Creek Falls near Looking Glass Rock.
The most popular natural waterslide in North Carolina for generations is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. Slide down a 60-ft. smooth rock waterfall into a pool of chilly water. Bathrooms… read more
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… read more
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers has 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,… read more
Find the best places to tube down a river on a hot summer day, including the French Broad River through Asheville, Deep Creek in the Smoky Mountains and Green River Gorge - with rentals and… read more
This gorgeous lake in Graham County is mostly surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. Swim, boat, camp and fish in the pristine waters, near Robbinsville.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
We are lucky enough to have six rivers near Asheville that are good for rafting and kayaking. Find professional companies that provide rafting guides, so no experience is necessary. You can even… read more
Asheville Mountain Swimming Holes Google Map
Go to this map on Google Maps.
Plan ahead with our Waterfall Safety Tips for our mountains. Remember, most swimming holes featured do not have lifeguards, concessions or an office.
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!
See more ways to Beat the Heat!