Insider’s Guide to Oregon Swimming Holes
When software developer Jake Schirm moved to Oregon from San Diego eight years ago, he traded the SoCal surf culture for life among Oregon’s rivers and streams. With four kids in tow (now age 15, 14, 11 and 6), he started looking for family-friendly swimming spots. “I was trying to learn about rivers and places to go swimming with my family,” he says.
His research led him to a much loved, but sadly out-of-print guidebook by Relan Colley called “Oregon’s Swimming Holes.” Intrigued by the concept and noting the prohibitively expensive prices that used copies of the book were going for, Schirm saw an opportunity. He contacted Colley and suggested they work together to create a smartphone app with the original content. “He said he was game to bring it back,” Schirm says.
The Oregon’s Swimming Holes app, made for iPhone and released in July of 2013, includes more than 200 swimming holes around the state. Users can search by region, and each swimming hole entry includes all pertinent information, including the name of the swimming hole, the river it’s on, rating (Colley included only swimming holes that he would personally rank six out of 10), description, water quality, swimming skill, directions and amenities.
Schirm says people seem to like it, especially those who knew the book first. He says it’s been a great tool for long road trips when everyone needs to get out of the car and take a break. He’s careful to give kudos to Colley, however. “Reland Colley is the guy who did all field research,” he says. “He’s swum in all those holes. He’s the real expert.”
Here are five great Oregon swimming holes to check out this summer. Download the Oregon Swimming Holes app from iTunes to discover even more:
Little Falls on Steamboat Creek, 50 miles east of Roseburg (Rating: 9)
Cleawox Lake in Jesse M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, 4 miles south of Florence (Rating: 10)
Cliff Pool, Three Pools and Salmon Falls Park, 40 miles east of Salem on the Little North Fork Santiam River (Rating: 10, 10 and 8, respectively)
Buck Lake, one hour east of Oregon City in the Mt. Hood National Forest (Rating: 10)
Warehouse Beach on Lake Walulla, a backwater near the McNary Dam, 15 miles east of Umatilla (Rating: 9)
about author Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.
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