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Sabino Canyon Recreational Park in Tucson.

Featured Article

Swimming Hole Hot Spots

Visit these enchanting swimming spots nestled against the backdrop of some of Arizona’s most beautiful landscapes

Water in the desert isn’t always a mirage. Make a splash this summer at swimming holes that marry Arizona’s natural beauty and recreational fun. Hikes to these watering holes vary in intensity and be sure to always check conditions before heading out on your water adventure.

Slide Rock

The epitome of swimming holes in Arizona, Slide Rock in Oak Creek is known as an Arizona local’s favorite and has been named one of “America’s Top 10 Swimming Holes” by the Travel Channel. Nestled below an apple orchard and surrounded by the area’s famous red rocks, this 80-foot-long natural slide is created from algae on the sandstone rocks. The spot is a popular destination during the summer, and especially on weekends, so arrive early and bring exact change if paying cash for the entrance fees, which can fluctuate depending on the time of year.


Fossil Creek

Not-so-secret but oh-so-fabulous, Fossil Creek is another archetype of Arizona swimming holes. One of only two National Wild and Scenic rivers in Arizona, Fossil Creek is a riparian area that serves a wide variety of plants and wildlife. The beautiful, deep and cool water is perfect for wading in and sunbathing next to. Permits are required April through October and reservations must be made in advance.

Sycamore Canyon

Located a two-hour drive north of Ahwatukee in Clarkdale, Ariz., lies Sycamore Canyon in Coconino National Forest. Several swimming holes can be found along Parsons Trail but following about 15 minutes of hiking is where you’ll find the largest and arguably most beautiful one. Surrounded by red rock walls and tall cottonwoods, the pool is a popular place for a dip. In the summer, start early for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.

Horton Springs

Just east of Payson off the 260 and at the base of the Mogollon Rim is the start of your adventure along Horton Creek, named after L. J. Horton, a homesteader and cattleman who settled near the creek in the 1880s. At Horton Springs, hikers will find a spring-fed waterfall that collects into a pool which, while not deep enough to dive in, is a refreshing reward for hands, legs, feet and face.

Sabino Canyon

Head down to Tucson to enjoy the pools that dot Sabino Canyon. The canyon has year-round water sources and many hikes lead to swimming holes. Sabino Dam is a popular swimming area for families. You can also take the tram to the last stop then it’s a short hike to popular swimming holes Hutch’s Pool and The Crack.

Make a splash this summer at swimming holes that marry Arizona’s natural beauty and recreational fun.

  • Slide Rock. Photo courtesy Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau.
  • Fossil Creek
  • Grasshopper Point at Oak Creek
  • Sycamore Canyon. Photo courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism.
  • Ribbon Falls at the Grand Canyon. Photo by Mike Cavaroc Photography, courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism.
  • Sabino Canyon Recreational Park in Tucson.
  • Horton Creek Trail