Friday, February 7, 2020

5 Cool Swimming Holes in the Ozarks

Great Blue Heron in Arkansas
Even the Great Blue Heron Enjoys a Good Swimming Hole!

Those of us who live in the Ozark Mountains - or get to visit here - are blessed by the abundant supply of crystal clear spring water that feeds into larger rivers. These streams offer fun water recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts during the summer:
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Inner-tubing
  • Rafting
  • Swimming
This post is about the last item on that list - swimming. The Ozarks are home to many cool, refreshing swimming holes that are fun to enjoy on a hot summer day. These are my top 5 favorite swimming holes because they are less crowded than many of the more well-known swimming spots in the Ozarks. They are located in extreme Southwest Missouri or extreme Northwest Arkansas.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls Joplin

Grand Falls is the largest waterfall in Missouri - located just a few miles south of Joplin. However, Grand Falls is more than just a beautiful photo spot on Shoal Creek. Below the falls swimmers can enjoy one of the largest swimming holes in the Ozarks. The water gets pretty deep here. There are also some cool rock formations that have been carved out by Shoal Creek over the years. You can get to Grand Falls by taking Riverside Drive a couple miles west of Redings Mill. Most visitors park along the road near the falls. I usually hike from Wildcat Glades.

Tanyard Creek Waterfall 

The Tanyard Creek Waterfall Nature Trail in Bella Vista takes hikers past one of the best secret swimming spots in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. This swimming hole is probably a half-mile hike below the Tanyard Creek Waterfall. Tanyard Creek is shallow, but it's still fun to wade and splash around in. This swimming spot is a little deeper than the rest of the creek because the water pools in an area behind some large rocks that slow its flow. You can find the Tanyard Creek Natural Trail by taking HWY 340 a couple miles west of the Bella Vista Town Center. The swimming hole is about a mile hike from the trail head.

Little Sugar Creek Above Bella Vista Lake

Little Sugar Creek Bella Vista

Little Sugar Creek - just above where the creek flows into Bella Vista Lake - offer swimmers a fantastic swimming spot. First, this is like clear Ozark Mountain spring water. Secondly, there is a long gravel bar where the water starts off shallow and then gradually gets deeper as you get closer to the other bank. (The gravel bar is probably 1/4 mile long). Pictured above are some small rapids that are fun to play in. This is a really fun spot to bring a water chair and picnic lunch, and enjoy an afternoon on the water. This swimming spot is located between the Bella Vista Lake parking lot and Walgreens. You can access it from the hiking trail, or by parking behind Walgreens and walking down the hill.

Little Sugar Creek Farm

Little Sugar Creek Farm

Another fun swimming hole on Little Sugar Creek is located about a mile south of Bella Vista Lake just off the Wishing Springs Trail. However, this swimming spot is completely hidden from the trail. You will just notice a well-beaten path in the grass that leads to some trees next to the creek bank. You will often hear voices from behind the trees, which is how I discovered this spot. There is a rope swing on the other side of the bank. You can try it out if you are brave enough!

Dabbs Greer Town Hole Park 

Dabbs Greer Town Hole Park

McDonald County, Missouri is famous for being home to the Elk River - which is popular for float trips between Pineville and Noel. However, just a few miles north of the crowded Elk River, Indian Creek offers a much more quiet, peaceful setting for a good swimming spot at Town Hole in Anderson. The park is located next to the Post Office on Main Street. Town Hole is at the confluence of Indian Creek and Beaver Branch. Both are typically shallow streams. However, the water pools in this spot, making it a good place to swim. 

Safety First

Before you enjoy these cool waters on a hot day, you need to take some safety precautions. First, never dive headfirst into any swimming hole. I don't care how deep you think the water is, there still could be rocks or other debris underneath the surface of the water that you can't see. Also, the water level in these streams is always changing. Therefore, please play it safe and always jump feet first AFTER you know the water is deep enough for a cannonball lol. Secondly, this is the Ozarks, so you need to watch out for snakes. I recommend staying away from trees and logs in the water. Lastly, don't go swimming after heavy rains when these streams are flooding. 

In short, if I haven't scared you away, I hope that you can enjoy some of these fun swimming holes in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. They are kind of like a best-kept secret because many don't know about them.

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