Arkansas swimming

13 Arkansas Swimming Holes that you WON’T want to miss!

There are many great swimming holes in Arkansas but these 13 are EPIC. Arkansas swimming areas like the Buffalo River, Greers Ferry lake and Cossatot River never disappoint!

Nothing beats a dip in a cool Arkansas creek or lake to take the edge off the summer heat. I hear so many people ask, “Where are the best swimming holes in Arkansas?” These are the people who want to by-pass the pool. They aren’t interested in spending their summer day on the concrete patio around the local pool with 100 other people.

They want to see what Arkansas really has to offer.

P.S. “Arkansas swimming hole” often refers to a river, creek or lake that might be off the beaten path. Generally, we call our favorite spot a “swimming hole.”

But, today, I’m spilling the beans. So grab your beach towel and a picnic lunch and let’s go!

Because…Arkansas humidity is a beast!

BEST Swimming Areas in Arkansas

There are so many great Arkansas swimming holes to choose from that it was difficult to narrow this down. Here are 13 of my favorite swimming holes in Arkansas!

1. Walnut Creek in the Ouachita National Forest

This Arkansas swimming hole is one of the best!

Walnut Creek is a cold, spring-fed mountain stream in the Ouachita National Forest. On the banks of this creek, in Royal Arkansas, you will find the Charlton Recreation Area.

“This historic recreation area features a captivating native stone dam that forms the swimming area and rustic bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps federal work program in 1935.” -source

Walnut Creek Arkansas swimming hole
Walnut Creek in Arkansas. Photo by Katie Schenk/Flickr

You’ll find the Charlton Recreation Area here:
523 Hwy. 270 East
Royal, AR 71968

Speaking of the Ouachita National Forest, there is lots of FREE camping near Hot Springs!

2. Steel Creek Campground on the Buffalo River

There is nothing like a dip in the Buffalo River to cool you off on a hot, summer day. Many Arkansans enjoy all the great swimming holes along the Buffalo and everyone has their favorite.

A favorite swimming spot for many people is at the Steel Creek Campground.

Steel Creek Campground Arkansas swimming
Steel Creek Campground swimming. Photo by Jay Stout/Flickr

“Steel Creek Campground is situated along the Buffalo River under the towering and picturesque Roark Bluff.” -source

Roark Bluff next to the Steel Creek Campground Arkansas swimming area
Roark Bluff next to the Steel Creek Campground swimming area. Photo by AR Nature Gal/Flickr

You’ll find Steel Creek Campground here:
Latitude: 36° 1′ 48.6084″ N
Longitude: 93° 20′ 30.6708″ W

Steel Creek is located about 3 miles east of Ponca, just off Highway 74.

You’ll also find some of the BEST tent camping in Arkansas along the Buffalo River!

3. Buffalo Point

Another favorite swimming hole on the Buffalo River is at Buffalo Point Campground. If you’re the camping type, you’re going to love this campground and swimming area!

Buffalo Point is the only campground along the Buffalo National River that has water and electric hookups for RVs. There are also great placces for tent camping and primitive camping.

Buffalo Point Campground swimming area
Buffalo Point Campground swimming area.

Buffalo Point is on a bend in the river which makes it perfect for swimming! And, in peak season, a restaurant is open at the campground for when you’re hungry during swimming breaks.

You’ll find Buffalo Point swimming hole here:
Latitude: 36° 4′ 23.0002″ N
Longitude: 92° 33′ 24.9998″ W

Buffalo Point was also named one of the BEST campgrounds near Eureka Springs, Arkansas!

4. Dam Site Campground in Heber Springs

The Dam Site Campground in Heber Springs has two great swimming areas. I love the swimming areas at the Dam Site because they are both so different.

Swimming area near the Dam in Heber Springs Arkansas
Swimming area near the Dam in Heber Springs.

My favorite swimming area is by the island at the Dam Site. There are places to swim on each side of the concrete walking path.One of the beaches has sand and the other is concrete. This site also has cliffs from which brave folks like to jump off into the water.

Swimming area at Dam Site Arkansas with cliffs for jumping!
Swimming area at Dam Site with cliffs for jumping!

Latitude: 35° 31′ 18.9998″ N
Longitude: 91° 59′ 51.0000″ W

From Heber Springs, AR, take SR-25 3 miles north and follow signs to the campground.


The Dam Site was also named as having some of the Best Tent Camping & Swimming near Little Rock, Arkansas!

5. Big Shoal Creek Cascade near Paris

Big Shoal Creek Cascade is a fun place to splash around near Paris, Arkansas. The trail length to the cascade is .1 mile. It’s just a few steps from the parking area!

This swimming hole is easy to get to for all skill levels. You’ll love it!

Big Shoal Creek swimming hole in Arkansas
Big Shoal Creek swimming hole in Arkansas. Photo by Anna/Flickr

You’ll find Big Shoal Creek Cascade here:
“This gem lies in between Paris, AR and Mount Magazine. Head east from Hwy 309 on County Road 1601 (Spring Lake Road) and just keep going for about 5.7 miles. There is a small offshoot to this road right before the falls (if you cross the bridge, you’ve gone about 100 yards too far!)”source

6. King’s River Falls at Red Fern Campground

Everyone raves about the amazing camp hosts and the incredible swimming hole here at Red Fern Campground on King’s River Falls.

King's River Falls swimming hole in Arkansas
King’s River Falls swimming hole in Arkansas. Photo by Jonathan Ball/Flickr

“Less than a minute from the Kings River Falls Trail-head, and nestled alongside the headwaters of the Kings River in Venus, Arkansas. This is a remote and rugged campground with caves, bluffs, swimming holes and river aplenty.” -source

Red Fern Campground was also named one of the BEST Arkansas campgrounds with waterfalls!

7. Cadron Creek near Greenbrier

“As central Arkansas’s major canoeing and floating stream, Cadron Creek offers gorgeous scenery including many caves, bluffs and pinnacles.” -source

There are many great places to swim along Cadron Creek at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission access points. However, to make this easy, just head on over to Cadron Creek Outfitters.

“On the Cadron you can still find lonely places where bluffs tower over serene pools of water and waterfalls spray unsuspecting paddlers who venture too close. The land runs wild and adventure abounds.”source

You’ll find Cadron Creek Outfitters here:
54 Cargile Lane
Greenbrier, AR 72254

8. Little Missouri River near Glenwood

The Little Missouri River begins in western Arkansas southeast of Mena and flows through the Ouachita Mountains before it reaches the Narrows Dam which creates Lake Greeson. Below the dam, the river flows past the Crater of Diamonds State Park (which is actually an ancient volcano in Arkansas).

little Missouri river swimming hole
Little Missouri River. Photo by Vickie Myrick Gray

Many people love to splash around and swim in the Little Missouri River. A favorite location is the Little Missouri River recreation area.

Cascading waterfalls at the Little Missouri River swimming hole in Arkansas
Cascading waterfalls at the Little Missouri River swimming hole in Arkansas. Photo by Michael McCarthy/Flickr

Day-use area has cascading waterfalls, picnic area and a great hiking trail.

Ark. 8 Northwest
Glenwood, AR 71943

Read more here: Little Missouri Falls

9. Blue Hole near Boston

Blue Hole near Boston (or Big Hole as it’s sometimes called) is a favorite swimming hole for everyone who is willing to make the trek out there. This beautiful swimming hole is located on the Little Mulberry River.

You’ll need a vehicle with high clearance or be willing to hike to this swimming hole.

Blue Hole Cascade Arkansas
Blue Hole Cascade. Photo by Jonathan Ball/Flickr

What makes this Arkansas swimming hole so special is the small cascade that the Little Mulberry Creek flows over to feed the pool. It’s spectacular to see!

You’ll find Blue Hole here:
GPS: N35 48.16, W93 33.22

10. Crystal Springs Beach on Lake Ouachita

Crystal Springs Beach is a unique Arkansas swimming hole because the beach is sandy and there is a playground just steps from the water!

“Crystal Springs Campground, perched on the shores of Lake Ouachita in Arkansas, is an ideal spot for families, friends and couples. Approximately 1.2 million people visit the lake each year to explore its crystal clear waters and scenic mountain landscape.” -source

You may also wonder: When does Lake Ouachita get warm enough for swimming?

11. Cossatot River

The Cossatot River in Southwestern Arkansas offers several great swimming holes for people who want a fun river experience. A great place to start exploring this river is at the Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area.

Cossatot River swimming
Cossatot River swimming. Photo by Robert Thigpen/Flickr

“This park-natural area extends for 12 miles along the National Wild and Scenic Cossatot River. The river forms Cossatot Falls, a rocky canyon with Class IV rapids for experienced kayakers and canoeists when local rainfall increases the watershed. Brushy Creek Recreation Area offers picnic sites, restrooms, and river access. “ -source

Cossatot Falls on the Cossatot River in Arkansas
Cossatot Falls on the Cossatot River in Arkansas. Photo by AR Nature Gal/Flickr

You’ll find the Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area here:
1980 Hwy. 278 West
Wickes, AR 71973

12. Crowley’s Ridge State Park

On a hot summer day, the place to be is at Crowley’s Ridge State Park. This state park has a 3.5-acre swimming area! I’d call that one big Arkansas swimming hole!

If you’d like to take a break from swimming, you can also rent kayaks and pedal boats from the park. This is a unique experience that I know you’ll love.

Crowley's Ridge State Park swimming area
Crowley’s Ridge State Park swimming area. Photo by Dave Thomas/Flickr

“Atop the forested hills in Northeast Arkansas, Crowley’s Ridge State Park is situated on a unique geological formation and has a rich history.” -source

You’ll find Crowley’s Ridge State Park here:
2092 Hwy. 168 North
Paragould, AR 72450

13. Spring River near Hardy

The Spring River has two personalities. The first personality is a lot like your crazy sister. She looks sweet on the outside but she’s actually unpredictable, cold and she’ll throw you for a loop before you even see it coming.

Ok. Maybe that’s just my crazy sister.

The other personality of the Spring River is a lot like me: mild, beautiful, warm and surrounded by beautiful scenery.

I’m just kidding! …about the part I said about myself. Everything I said about my sister is true.

But, back to the river. The South fork of the river is where you’ll want to swim. It’s quite leisurely and perfect for even a calm float trip!

Mammoth Spring in Arkansas
Mammoth Spring in Arkansas. Photo by Dave Thomas/Flickr

“Rated as one of Arkansas’ best float streams, the scenic Spring River is fed by the icy waters of the Mammoth Spring, just a few miles north of Hardy.” -source

And since the waters of the Spring River are so cold, make sure you go swimming on a hot, hot day!

You’ll find the Spring River in Hardy, Arkansas.

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