Growing up and raising children in this land of waving wheat has provided me with ample opportunities to discover which swimming holes in Oklahoma are the very best. As an outdoor enthusiast and lover of our natural world, I prefer natural swimming holes to adventure parks any day of the warm, summer months.
After years of exploring, I’m prepared to list our top favorite spots to cool off on a hot day. Some admissions are free, while others cost a small fee. Always call in advance or check each site’s website for any sudden changes in accessibility. Then, check the weather, grab some sunscreen and water shoes, and get ready to soak in some of that glorious Oklahoma sun!
1. Bath Lake Swimming Hole – Medicine Park, OK
One of our favorite natural swimming holes in Oklahoma is in Medicine Park. The water is absolutely refreshing during the summer – not too hot nor too cold. It remains pretty mild all summer. Natural flowing waters from Medicine Creek feed the area.
The design is fantastic for young or advanced swimmers. A small designated area is best for youngsters, with a larger open area available for those wanting deeper, open water. The rocky ledges surrounding it provide great spots for lounging, sunbathing, and supervising, as well as a place to leave your things while you swim.
I highly recommend floaties (my personal favorite for an adult is a noodle) to be able to relax for long periods in deeper water that’s not too far off from the bank. Young swimmers would benefit from appropriate floatation attire. Going over the waterfall or swimming beyond the bridge is off-limits. There are no lifeguards, but the staff will let you know the rules and take admission. Always keep an eye on your kiddos and use your best parental judgment.
A perfect day for us, all within walking distance of the swimming area:
- Explore shops along the street ( so many cute spots! )
- Eat lunch at one of the restaurants nearby ( several are along the street )
- Swim to our hearts’ content
- Find a snack / iced latte before heading home (shops / bakeries nearby )
Pricing: 6 & older: $3, Children under age 5: Free
2. Blue Hole Park – Salina, OK
Nestled in the foothills of the Ozarks, Blue Hole pulls at my heartstrings as it’s nostalgic for my childhood. And yes, the water IS that blue! No filter or editing was used. But beware, it’s quite cold year-round! Even in July, the water might be in the lower 60’s or upper 50’s. It’s the perfect spot to spend the day. Bring an ice chest, chairs, and lake shoes. Both kids and adults love to ride intertubes over the small waterfall pictured below. There is a snack shop available, as well as a bathroom (but no sink). RV sites and campsites are on-site too and are first-come, first-serve.
Pricing: $15 per car
3. Little Niagara Falls / Travertine Creek – Sulphur, OK
There are so many spots to choose from when swimming at Little Niagara Falls and along Travertine Creek. We usually start at the falls and then work our way down the creek, exploring and swimming as we go. The water is always pretty cold, but it feels fantastic on an especially hot day (which is often during most Oklahoma summers). We explore until we find a spot that’s not too busy or crowded.
Pricing: Free for everyone!
4. Pawnee Bathhouse – Pawnee, OK
Now hear me out. This isn’t exactly a bathhouse. Well, it used to be. It’s actually now a gorgeous historic site brought back to life for kiddos and adults of all ages to enjoy. Originally built in 1939 from hand-cut and coursed native stone, the site has been restored with a two-acre freshwater pool just beyond it. Come prepared for a picnic on its sandy beach, explore its history, jump from the hole’s high dive, or slide down its water slide!
Pricing: Adult (17 & over): $3, Children (3-16): $3, Children (2 & under): Free
5. Turner Falls – Davis, OK
One of the tallest waterfalls in the state, Turner Falls creates some wonderful, refreshing areas to swim with extraordinary scenic views. Explore its local caves, trails, and natural pools for days’ worth of fun. You can even visit an open castle that was built in 1930. Campsites are available as well. Crowds are heavy on the weekend, so we prefer a weekday trip when visiting. Rates are subject to change, so check out its website for updated info.
Pricing: Admission is anywhere from $9 – $20 per person plus parking (Check website for updated pricing)
6. Gage Artesian Beach – Gage, OK
Now doesn’t that just sound fun!? Artesian Beach in any title will catch my attention!
The Gage Artesian Beach has a unique history, as it was an accidental find by a crew digging for oil in 1917. Imagine their surprise! Now, the natural swimming area features mineral waters with a sandy floor and cement sides. It’s a draw for swimmers near and far. Restrooms are available, as well as a snack station.
Check out their Facebook page for updated information on pricing and hours.
Use Caution While at Swimming Holes in Oklahoma
As with most things, words of caution are wise to consider! Check out some tips for swimming safely and at your own risk/discretion.
- Remember, you’re sharing the swimming hole with its natural neighbors: snakes, fish, crawdads, turtles, etc. so keep an eye on your surroundings and your children as they swim.
- Leave no trace! We practice this wherever we travel, but be sure to pick up anything you drop and leave the area as you found it and as undisturbed as possible. No one wants to step on a piece of broken glass. Also, preservation is vital for the wellness of the area and for future visitors to enjoy it as well.
- There is a risk to your health or your family’s health when swimming in natural waters. Bodies of water can harbor contagions, algae, amoeba, or other hazards. Personally, I don’t like swimming in freshwater that is overly warm. You can check out the CDC’s website for up-to-date protocols and guidance at the time of your outing.
Things to Bring to Swimming Holes in Oklahoma
There are some key items we always pack into our day bag when heading out to swim! Some areas are further of a drive for us, so we make a day trip of it when we go.
- water/lake shoes (a must in our book – protects our feet from sharp rocks, etc)
- change of clothes
- water (pack extra)
- picnic lunch / snacks
- lockbox to keep our valuables in (I keep the key around my wrist & hook the box up to something stationary)
- portable charger
- waterproof phone case
Wrap-Up: Best Swimming Holes in Oklahoma
If you’re inclined to swim in nature’s backyard, checking out a local swimming hole in Oklahoma might just be your favorite day trip yet. It’s an adventure perfect for any age: adventurous enough to keep those go-getters in your family happy, but relaxing enough to suffice those in need of some rest. You can also check out our top favorite waterfalls to visit for more fun Oklahoma exploration ideas.
Let us know if you agree with our choices or if you have another favorite that’s a must-see and should be added to our list. Moreover, keep exploring and happy swimming!