Best Swimming Holes in the West

Via readers share their favorite places to cool off in Nevada and California.

swimming hole, South Yuba River, Cisco Grove, Calif., image

The refreshing waters of the South Yuba River are easy to reach off Interstate 80.


Take advantage of the area’s local amenities and services:

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Everybody loves to take a bracing dip on a warm day. Via readers know some of the best swimming holes in the West.

BIDWELL PARK Chico, Calif. "A haven for water lovers," writes Joe Crotts of Chico, "where Big Chico Creek's swift current has carved several holes amid gigantic basaltic boulders, including Bear, Alligator, and Brown's holes." (530) 896-7800,

BURNEY FALLS McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Shasta County, Calif. "One of the most beautiful," writes Alex Aharonov of Sunnyvale, Calif. "After you see the view at the falls' top, take the Burney Creek Trail to Lake Britton beach." (530) 335-2777,

LAKE ANZA Tilden Park, Berkeley, Calif. "A jewel of a lake for fishing and swimming," writes Andrew Aldrich of Oakland. "The lake's sandy beach is open to the sun and sheltered from wind. You'll find picnic grounds and trail access nearby." (510) 843-2137,

SALMON CREEK FALLS Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, near Gorda, Calif. "This year-round waterfall and swimming hole is a real crowd-pleaser, with fresh spring water," writes Bill Carson of Santa Cruz. (831) 385-5434,

SAND HARBOR Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park, near Incline Village, Nev. "This beautiful beach has lifeguards, showers, picnic areas with barbecues, a snack bar, and is an absolute must for the family," writes O.N. Shipman of Camino, Calif. (775) 831-0494,

SMITH RIVER Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, Calif. "In spots the water is deep and so clean, and you can jump off rocks into the clearest holes imaginable," says Gail Murphy of Portland. "I've been swimming there on family camping trips since the mid-1950s." (707) 464-6101 ext. 5112,

SOUTH YUBA RIVER Indian Springs Campground, near Cisco Grove, Calif. "The water is clear, and there are waterfalls to sit under and plenty of flat warm granite rocks to lie on and sunbathe," writes Ken Beutler of Sacramento. (530) 265-4531,

Photography by Robert Holmes

This article was first published in September 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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