Dives and Drives

Looking to rediscover the classic swimhole experience of your childhood? Grab your flip flops and car keys and hit the back roads with swimhole guru Pancho Doll to discover some of the best "Geronimo!" spots of the American wilderness.
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If spending the better part of a day bouncing over back roads just so you can leap off a boulder into the middle of a 10-foot by 10-foot basin of icy river water doesn't sound like your cup of tea, then your priorities probably need to be recalibrated. If, however, that final leap into oblivion sounds likes the consummate spiritual fulfillment that it is, see below.

Almost every baby boomer feels a pang of nostalgia when he hears the word swimhole—loosely defined as a place in a river, stream, creek, or spring just large enough and deep enough for a person to swim. In the days before public swimming pools were so prevalent, swimholes allowed Americans of average means to enjoy a deserved dip in the dead of summer. Today, swimholes epitomize the American dream: they are accessible to all, but also require plenty of hard work to reach—though it's definitely worth it.

The best swimholes, those that offer boulders and craggy cliffs to jump from, are distributed evenly between the two American coasts and take a little back-roading and determination to reach. These getaways are ideal for outdoorsy single types or rugged families. And remember, swimholes are typically secluded , and skinny dipping is not uncommon.

Published: 4 Apr 2007 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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