Swimming holes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Zion National Park. Hiking, canyoning, and mountains galore are probably higher on the list. But when I went, it was nearing 100 degrees and unbearable. Emerald Pools, the most popular hike, unfortunately, does not allow swimming. After extensive research and exploring, here are the best ways to cool off that I found.
The Virgin River
The Virgin River runs throughout Zion. There are plenty of less frequented spots along the river that are great for swimming. Just avoid any spots too close to a tram stop or major trail and you’ll be fine! Be careful as the currents are much stronger than they look (I came out with quite a few scratches). Parts of the river are also open for tubing at certain times of the year.
Pine Creek Waterfall
Less well-known and less accessible, the Lower Pine Creek Falls trail takes you to a hidden swimming hole. Getting there is more than a little tricky, and my Mom and I got really lost. But there’s also no crowds and the water is warm and calm. Joe’s Guide provides a pretty detailed description of how to get to the trailhead. From there, you’re on your own.
In addition to being a great hike, The Narrows is a fun place to cool off. The hike itself consists of wading through (sometimes waist-deep) water, but there are plenty of deeper spots to swim along the way. Getting there and hiking through can be as difficult or as easy as you’d like depending on how far you decide to go. Most people just go until they start getting tired and then turn back. In my opinion, this is the most fun hike at Zion, but it does get very crowded.