Northwest Arkansas offers many places to enjoy a cool swim without the chlorine smell and concrete floors.
Ozark swimming holes typically feature large bluffs, refreshing pools of water and even some breathtaking waterfalls, all fed by Arkansas’ many waterways.
A bona fide Ozarks swimming hole is an inviting pool of clear, refreshing water situated at a shady spot along a mountain stream on public land.
Here’s a few local favorites.
McKissic Creek at the north edge of Bentonville offers a great family friendly atmosphere for a fun summer afternoon. Puppies paddle happily through the cool waters and parents watch as their children splash into the water from a rope swing on the large bluff.
Beth Day of Bentonville said she and her family visit the swimming hole every summer because they enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. She likes that her dog Sky can join the family in the cool waters, because Day would not be able to bring Sky to a public swimming pool.
Melanie McMurtrey of Bentonville said she and her family gather with friends at McKissic Creek as a way to “get outside and beat the heat.”
The beauty of the natural surroundings gives off a different feeling compared to a public swimming pool, McMurtrey said. She thinks the opportunity to explore nature really stimulates her four sons’ imaginations.
People swim and relax all up and down McKissic Creek from U.S. 71 downstream to the stream’s junction with Little Sugar Creek.
The epicenter of swimming hole joy is one-quarter mile downstream from U.S. 71. The creek can be accessed along Wishing Springs Road. There is a small lot near the path’s entrance for parking and a short dirt path for accessing the creek. Wishing Spring pours into McKissic Creek, keeping the water cool on the hottest days.
This hidden oasis is located along the War Eagle River at the southeast tip of Benton County.
A beautiful bluff serves as an unique spot for soaking up some sun, and a gravel bar across the water is perfect for setting up lawn chairs and wading into the water.
Brenda Luna of Springdale said she and her kids enjoy the solitude and peace the swimming hole provides.
The Gar Hole isn’t the most attractive name for a swimming hole, but it’s one beauty of a pool.
Youngsters and the young at heart relax in clear water that’s fairly shallow, but deep enough for swimming. Adults set up lawn chairs half in and half out of the water to keep watch on the kiddos. Upstream, people fish far away from the swimmers.
The bluff is a good jumping off place for cannonballs into the stream. No rope swing here, but plenty of water.
Gar Hole is located at 23501 Washington 526 in Hindsville, down the narrow and unpaved Gar Hole Road. Signs prohibit parking around the hole, so visitors should park and walk to the swimming area.
The water in this West Fork swimming area deepens near layers of large sedimentary rock. Many people float in the water using tubes while others fish off the side. Signs around the park warn against jumping off the rocks.
A few short hiking trails are near the swim area, and the park also includes a large pavilion and playground. A few wooden chairs sit on the lawn, and people spread towels on the grass.
Anna Podojil said she and her soccer team come to the park once or twice a summer. The park is a fun place to come on a hot summer day and a great place to meet new people, she said.
Those looking to visit Riverside Park can plug the name directly into Google Maps. The park is off of Arkansas 170 in West Fork.
This swimming hole requires a brief hike down Tanyard Creek Nature Trail, but the trek is fairly easily and worth it to reach the scenic waterfall.
The waterfall trickles down into a good swimming hole with plenty of fishing spots and rocks to sit on. Visitors will definitely want to bring appropriate water shoes as the bottoms can be quite rocky.
Couple Tova and Greg Bohrer of Rogers said their daughter enjoys the adventure the swimming hole provides. They watched her cannonball into the water while their dog Harvey tried his hand at swimming and napped on the rocks.
To reach the Bella Vista water hole, visitors will follow Bella Vista Way (U.S. 71) to Nature Trail Lane. A paved trail from the parking lot crosses a bridge to an unpaved part of the trail. Signs then direct visitors straight to the waterfall and holes.
After spending the afternoon in the sun, visitors may want to stop for some Dole Whip at Crazy Willie’s Ice Cream located near the parking lot.