Top 10 National Park Service Sites for Swimming

Swimming at National Park Service (NPS) sites can range from soaking in hot springs to dipping in mountain lakes to riding ocean waves.  We tried to include a variety of experiences in this list, although if you love the beach be sure to check out our ranking of the Top 10 National SeashoresClick here to see all of our Top 10 Lists.

10. Olympic National Park (Washington)

If a frigid dip in Lake Quinault does not sound nice, then warm up at Sol Duc Hot Springs

9. Chickasaw National Recreation Area (Oklahoma)

The swimming hole at Little Niagara draws summer crowds, as does the Lake of the Arbuckles

8. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

Jenny Lake is shockingly cold, so it might not be appealing except on the warmest days

7. Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida-Mississippi)

Incredible white sand beaches, though not known for its big waves

6. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming-Montana-Idaho)

The hot springs are all off limits except seasonally at the Boiling River near Mammoth Hot Springs

5. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Washington)

Another cold water spot in an incredibly clear lake that seems to glow turquoise in the sun

4. Haleakalā National Park (Hawai‘i)

In the coastal Kipahulu District, the freshwater Seven Sacred Pools attract tourists

3. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

A variety of sea life is attracted to the human structures in the clear subtropical waters

2. Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina)

Long stretches of beach, warm water, and awesome waves

…and finally the #1 National Park Service site for swimming:

1. Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. Virgin Islands)

A snorkeler’s (and sea turtle’s) paradise accessible right from the beautiful tropical beaches

Honorable Mentions

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (Hawai‘i)

Swimming is not allowed within the NPS site, but one of the Big Island’s best snorkeling spots is next door

Big Bend National Park (Texas)

The foundation of a bathhouse still holds in hot springs water on the side of the Rio Grande

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (New Mexico)

Lightfeather and Jordan Hot Springs are actually in neighboring Gila National Forest

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

The truly adventurous can jump into an icy pool atop melting Root Glacier

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