7 Arizona waterfalls you can actually swim in

7 Arizona waterfalls you can actually swim in

Photo courtesy of Andrew Peluso via Unsplash.

By Ellery Weil

June 25, 2024

Hike to these seven waterfalls in Arizona and reward yourself with a dip into the cool waters below.

Summer in Arizona can be a scorcher, so you’ve probably been thinking about ways to cool down. But what about getting cool in a really, really cool way? Sure, swimming in a pool is a great way to cool down, but in the Grand Canyon State, you can take it to the next level by swimming in a waterfall!

While many people are aware of Arizona’s multiple waterfalls, not everyone knows there are waterfalls across the state where you can take a dip.

So, whether you’re planning on a hike and want to stop for a refreshing break or are just looking for nature’s alternative to your local pool, here are some of the best spots in the state for waterfall swimming—but remember, many require reservations and permits. Swim safely, and remember your sunscreen!


1. Elves Chasm

If you’re a fan of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, you might remember the beautiful shots of Rivendell, the home of the elves. If you want to feel like a graceful member of the Fellowship yourself, why not try a trip to Elves Chasm, a hidden waterfall in the Grand Canyon most frequently accessed by kayak? Elves Chasm is off the beaten path, which is why you’ll need a backcountry camping permit to visit, but for experienced backpackers who get there, you might be able to enjoy a private swim!


2. Fossil Creek

Which is cooler: waterfalls or dinosaurs? Tough question, right? Well, how about a waterfall where dinosaur fossils and prehistoric sea life remains have been found? If that sounds neat, you’ll love Fossil Creek. Fossil Creek, in the Coconino National Forest, is one of Arizona’s most popular waterfalls for swimming, and it’s easy to see why! You’ll need a parking permit if you’re driving there between April 1 and October 1, to help keep the scenic area from overcrowding in the high season. Considering it’s located on one of the state’s prettiest hiking trails and has year-round temperate waters, this makes a great summer excursion — dinosaurs or not!


3. Havasu Falls

Maybe the most famous Arizona falls for swimming, Havasu Falls is located in Arizona’s most celebrated natural feature — the Grand Canyon!  Currents can be strong, so if you are planning a trip, make sure everyone in your party who fancies a dip is a strong swimmer. Havasu Falls is located on Havasupai tribal lands, and you will need a permit to visit the reservation, as well as an overnight booking at either Havasupai Lodge, or to camp overnight at the nearby campgrounds. (Please note that many reviewers suggest refraining from using the pack horses and mules, as they are reportedly neglected). 


4. Mooney Falls

Another of the Grand Canyon’s natural waterfalls, Mooney Falls is a hidden gem — but that doesn’t mean it’s short on the “wow factor.” Mooney Falls stands higher than Niagara Falls! To swim in the falls, you’ll need to brave a ladder climb along the cliffside, which might put off anyone who’s afraid of heights, but those who make the trip say it is worth it! You will need a Havasupai reservation and permit to visit – the same type most commonly booked for Havasu Falls. You can also enjoy the beauty of the canyon and the falls while staying at overnight campsites in the area. 


5. Slide Rock

Want to enjoy Arizona’s waterfalls at a gentler pace? Consider Slide Rock State Park, located just outside of Sedona. The falls here are perhaps less dramatic than others on this list but make for a cool and refreshing place for a swim nonetheless. The park also offers guided tours, hiking trails, wildlife spotting, and a chance to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument. 


6. Havasupai Falls

Not to be confused with Havasu Falls, Havasupai Falls is another Grand Canyon site, nicknamed “the Shangri-La of the Grand Canyon.” You’ll need a permit in order to visit, but once you get there, you can expect some of the most beautiful and dramatic swimming falls in Arizona, plus hiking trails and campgrounds. Remember to make a reservation in advance – day hiking is not permitted, and permits to visit cost $100-$125 per person per day, depending on when you book. A minimum stay of three nights is required if you’re camping. 


7. Fifty Foot Falls

Hidden away past Supai Village, Fifty Foot Falls are less known than their “cousins” elsewhere around the Grand Canyon, but that can be a good thing! This “hidden gem” is less frequently crowded, meaning private or semi-private swimming might be the order of the day when you come to visit. Your permit and overnight reservations to visit nearby Havasu Falls will include access to Fifty Foot Falls, and if you have the time, it’s worth the trip. However, bear in mind that it’s not a hike for beginners — the trail to Fifty Foots Falls is less clearly marked than some others in the area, but as one of the coldest and loudest falls in the area, many visitors reach it by following their ears!

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

READ MORE: Stay overnight at one of Arizona’s 9 most haunted hotels (if you dare)


  • Ellery Weil

    Ellery Weil is a historian and writer who holds degrees from the University of Michigan and University College London. In her spare time, she likes cooking, theater, and petting dogs she meets on the street.

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