America's best swimming holes
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Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona
This shocking Caribbean-blue pool—on the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Native American community of Supai—is for the most tenacious of swimming-hole devotees. There are only three ways to get to Havasu Falls: hire a helicopter, hike 10 miles, or ride a pack mule. Plus, you'll need to purchase an entry permit, and, unless you're a hardcore trail runner, book a night at the Havasupai Lodge or campsite. But it's so worth it. Pancho Doll, who wrote two books on America's swimming holes, calls it the best in the world. After a long desert trek, even the mist from the 120-foot cascade is refreshing. Swimming behind the torrential falls or floating on your back and taking in the view is the real reward.
What's Nearby: Supai has a small grocery store and cafe. It's also one of two places in the country where U.S. mail is delivered by mules.
Sliding Rock (Photo: Transylvania County Tourism/Tracy Turpen)
Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Break out your old cutoff jeans shorts for this 60-foot natural waterslide just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water pour over a huge, mostly smooth boulder and into a seven-foot plunge pool. If the ride doesn't take your breath away, the water temperature will. The cool mountain stream that powers this Sliding Rock ride is only about 50 to 60 degrees in summer. Sliders of all ages shriek, grimace, and tiptoe through it but come back for more, even when long lines snake down the entire rock face. Lifeguards supervise in summer, and small kids can ride in an adult's lap.