Come late summer, temperatures begin to stay consistently high and the sun shines a little brighter in Southwest Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, as the kids get antsy and restless, this is the ideal time to burn off energy and cool off at a nearby swimming hole.
Southwest Washington is equipped with a number of incredible swimming holes, ranging from serene pools at the foot of a waterfall to expansive lakes and rushing rivers. Add these swimming spots to your summer bucket list before the season ends!
Siouxon Creek | Amboy
Photo Courtesy of Donaleen on Flickr
Siouxon Creek is a peaceful, sparkling creek situated in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, directly south of Mount St. Helens. The Siouxon Creek Trail runs along the creek for 7 miles, providing plenty of swimming holes along the way, including the most popular spot at the 2-mile mark. But a number of emerald green pools dot the creek, enhanced by lush old-growth forest and boulders all around.
Lewisville Regional Park | Lewisville
Clark County’s oldest park and home to several swimming holes, Lewisville Regional Park offers 159 acres of natural beauty and outdoor recreation. Embark on a hike along the 2.8-mile trail that runs parallel to the East Fork Lewis River, which provides several places to dip in the water. The Larch area offers a small pebble beach with calmer waters while the Ponderosa section of the park has a little stronger current with more seclusion and shade.
Dougan Falls | Washougal
The Washougal River provides some of the region’s best swimming holes — the most impressive of which is Dougan Falls. The 19-foot cascade tumbles into a clear blue-green pool accompanied by flat rocks, perfect for sunbathing and relaxing on a warm day. Visit during the week to avoid heavier crowds, as this natural gem is a popular destination for locals! Consider pitching a tent at Dougan Creek Campground just 100 meters away to extend your stay.
Salmon Creek Regional Park | Vancouver
Photo Courtesy of Clark County Washington
This low-key park is a convenient option for Vancouver residents. It’s the perfect place to cool off after work on a hot day, as it is just about 15 minutes from the heart of downtown. While there are plenty of places to swim in the area, Salmon Creek Regional Park is the only one with lifeguards on duty daily, between July 1 and Labor Day. Plus, the park has a bathhouse, roped swimming areas, a children’s splash pad, observation platforms and a life jacket loaner station.
Cottonwood Beach | Washougal
This gorgeous beach in Washougal has a rich history dating back to March 31, 1806, when Lewis and Clark set up camp at Cottonwood Beach while they secured provisions for their return trip through the Gorge. And today, Cottonwood Beach is a popular place for hiking, picnicking and swimming!
Battle Ground Lake | Lewisville
Photos Courtesy of Washington State Parks
Nestled in a volcanic crater at the Cascade foothills, Battle Ground Lake State Park provides endless opportunity for outdoor recreation, especially on a hot summer day. Wade in the water, enjoy a picnic, hike along a nearby trail, pitch a tent, cast a line, or do all of the above in the same day! Purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass for vehicle access to the park.
Lacamas Lake Park | Camas
This serene lake in Camas is surrounded by towering trees and trails, offering endless places to take in lake views. It’s also an ideal place to get immersed in the lake, by swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking or fishing. In fact, you’ll find a mixture of bass, bluegill and perch in the waters of Round Lake, also situated in this 312-acre park!
Moulton Falls | Yacolt
Photo Courtesy of Clark County Washington
The 387-acre Moulton Falls Regional Park offers a little something for all types of water enthusiasts, including two jaw-dropping waterfalls to admire, calm pools and 2 miles of trails winding along the East Fork Lewis River. Be careful in areas with a swift current and do not attempt to dive or jump off the arch bridge!
Lower Lewis Falls | Cougar
Perhaps one of the most scenic spots on this list, Lower Lewis Falls provides Instagram-worthy views at every turn. A wall of water 200 feet across cascades 43 feet down below into a serene turquoise pool, where visitors can wade and splash on a hot day. If this area is overcrowded, consider hiking east upriver to the Middle and Upper Lewis River Falls, about 1.5 and 2.5 miles away, respectively.
Naked Falls | Stevenson
Photo Courtesy of Naked Falls
This popular cliff diving spot along the Washougal River was temporarily closed due to safety concerns back in 2016, but opened once again in the summer of 2017. Now there are a number of (hilariously explained) rules to abide by, which includes not jumping out of trees, littering, or participating in any shenanigans or “tom foolery”. Visit this exciting swimming hole in Stevenson to see what all the hype is about. Plus, the scenery here is particularly breathtaking — whether or not you decide to jump in the water.
Lake Merwin | Ariel
Situated at the confluence of Lewis River and Lake Merwin, Merwin Park is the largest recreation area along the Lewis River. It’s an excellent place to enjoy a picnic, go fishing, play on a playground, and of course — go swimming. Keep in mind that for the safety of swimmers, no personal floatation devices are allowed, such as kayaks, paddleboards, inflatable watercraft and more.
Let us know which swimming hole in Southwest Washington is your favorite — whether or not it’s on our list.
Looking for more nearby swimming holes? Check out these swimming holes less than an hour from Portland.