The Best Natural Swimming Holes in Idaho


In the mountain state of Idaho, you’ll find an abundance of trails that are both breathtaking and idyllic. Winter transforms its scenic landscape into a snow-capped wonderland, and the rising temperatures of summer make hiking an outdoorsman’s paradise. There’s nothing better than getting a few miles under your belt and finding a refreshing swimming hole to cool off in. It’s hard to resist diving into a glacial mountain lake, natural hot spring, or the occasionally hidden waterfall tucked into the peaceful backwoods. Here are some of the best natural swimming holes in the Gem State, offering respite from the elements and views that will make your hike one to remember.

Take a drive in the late spring about an hour from Boise and you’ll reach Jump Creek Falls Trail. This scenic trail follows a small creek and is dotted with Idaho’s state flower, the purple and white Syringa. You’ll follow the trail as it winds its way through the dramatic Owyhee Mountains for only half a mile until you make it to the upper canyon. Soon you’ll discover the longest waterfall in the canyon! Go for a nice dip as you wash off the dust from the trail. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can dive alongside the 60-foot waterfall from one of the smaller cliffs or explore some of the other overlooks in the surrounding area. This is tranquil spot is quite the sight!

Are you a seasoned hiker looking for a challenge? Near Grandjean, Idaho, you’ll get to venture into the Sawtooth wilderness on a strenuous trek to Saddleback Lake. Be aware that this trail is rated as difficult, is not entirely marked, and is one of the steepest hikes in the Sawtooth National Forest. For about two miles out of the entire 6.7-mile hike, you’d be hiking a steep climb, so be sure to prepare for that. Don't let it scare you off though, the views are spectacular and incredibly rewarding! After overcoming this demanding hike, you’ll be able to float in the turquoise waters of the glacial lake while enjoying the crystal-clear reflections of the mountains around you.

Just south of Boise is Sandy Point Park, a small oasis at the southern tip of the Boise River Greenbelt Trail. The Boise River pools here, creating shallow waters that are perfect for a relaxing cool-down on a hot day. Feel free to soak up some sun on the sandy beaches that surround the pool or take part in any of the park’s other recreational activities, such as volleyball, disc golf or utilize the picnic areas. You’ll notice the Greenbelt path is built on a foothill near the water, which proudly displays the environmentally-conscious message, “Keep Your Forests Green” in huge letters.

If you ever find yourself in the small town of Saint Anthony in the summer, you’ll probably hear the locals talking about going to the Sandbar. This hidden swimming hole is popular with the locals and has been enjoyed by generations of Idahoans for over sixty years. It includes all kinds of unique features that add to the fun. Do a flip off the diving board, go down a handmade waterslide, play in the sandboxes, and more! The Sandbar is a well-kept secret in the area that you'll be glad you came to check out. In such a charming locale, it definitely evokes a feeling of nostalgia and retains that lovable small-town magic.

Hidden in the Magic Valley lies Box Canyon Springs State Park. Surrounded by desert and brush, you can take a trail that leads you to a secluded valley, which will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. This area in southern Idaho is known for its challenging but short hikes riddled with first-rate scenic views. Once you reach the edge of the canyon, you can look down and marvel at the bright, prismatic waters of Box Canyon Springs. The view of this captivating oasis is an unexpected one, but that’s not all there is to enjoy here! Near the pool is a 20-foot waterfall that pours into the Snake River that hikers can take a dip in as they pass through.

Have you ever been to Hell’s Canyon, home of North America’s deepest river gorge? You won’t want to miss this fantastic hike in southwestern Idaho! If you need to go for an energizing swim, you have the option to explore your way to either the Upper or Lower Cannon Lakes. The upper one is easy to miss, but you’ll find it if you keep an eye on the rock cairns that lead you up the ridge for 1.2 miles to the lake. Though short, this hike is steep but ends with a small but refreshing alpine lake to enjoy.

Should you choose to trek around Idaho’s Seven Devils, you’ll eventually come across a short trail not even a mile long that branches off towards the Lower Cannon Lake. After encountering a few switchbacks, you’ll reach the stunning blue-green lake with a great view of the peaks, and there is even a small spot to camp at the lake. Imagine sitting by a crackling fire next to this lake, gazing up at a perfect view of the stars overhead, silhouetted by the mountains in the distance, snug as a bug? Sounds like paradise to us!

These are just some of the thousands of fresh mountain springs, rushing waterfalls, and hidden swimming holes you can find all over Idaho. Each of them offers unique experiences, scenic hikes, and fun outdoor opportunities for everyone to enjoy. In the summer, going for a relaxing swim in these spots is a great way to restore your energy, freshen up after a sweaty hike, or just enjoy what nature has in store for you. Plan to hike near one of Idaho’s natural swimming holes and you’re bound to enjoy your adventure that much more. There are several reasons why Idaho is called the Gem State, and these are just a few.


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