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When summer temperatures begin to soar on your Gatlinburg vacation, you’re going to want to find a nice cool place to hop in some water.  Luckily, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more than 2,100 miles of flowing water! With so much water coursing through the area, there are no shortage of places to go.  So, grab your sunglasses and swimsuit, sunscreen, and make sure to pack the water shoes. Check out our list of the best places to go swimming in the Smoky Mountains.  


The Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a local favorite.  It’s easy to access, too, only 7 short miles outside of Gatlinburg. When you reach the entrance, the first two large parking areas are the most popular spots to park and hop right into the river.  With plenty of large boulders scattered throughout the water, there are plenty of places to soak up a little sunshine as well. After you’ve had your fill of splashing around in the West Branch of the Pigeon River, head back a few more miles into the park to the first-come, first-served picnic area with 12 tables and grills.  Or, head across the street to Hungry Bear BBQ for a real feast.  

Little River at the Sinks


One of the most well-known swimming holes in the Smokies is on Little River Road, approximately 12 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This spectacular place is known as The Sinks.  The roaring waterfall plunges into a giant pool that was created during the logging camp days predating the park. Little River was a heavily used body of water to float logs out of the mountains down river.  Sometimes, logs jammed up. A large jam often was broken up by tossing a stick of dynamite at the logs. Local legend says this pool got its name after a logging train fell into the water and was never seen again.


While this pool is more than 10 feet deep and you’ll spot plenty of folks jumping off the higher rocks into the water below, you’ll want to use caution here.  There are strong currents here, and deaths have occurred.  

Townsend Wye 

Located approximately 18 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg you’ll find the Townsend Wye (or Townsend Y).  This confluence of two steams has always been a popular picnic and swimming spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There’s a large grassy area to spread out beach towels and relax in the sunshine, too! Little River is almost 30 feet wide at this point, and ranges from shallow to up to 6 feet deep toward the middle.  Whether you want to just splash around or want to get in a good swim, there’s plenty for the whole family here.  

Metcalf Bottoms

The Metcalf Bottoms picnic area is considered by many to be the best picnic area in the national park.  There are 165 individual first-come, first-served picnic sites with grills here. Make a day of it and arrive early to get a site next to the river.  While Little River is more shallow here, Metcalf Bottoms is still a great place to play in a mountain stream. After splashing around and having a big picnic lunch, burn off those calories with a walk or two.  You can visit the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse or, if you’ve got energy to burn, take a stroll to the Walker Sister’s Cabin

Cabin Resort

The indoor pool at Hidden Springs Resort

If a swimming hole or two isn’t enough for your family to cool off, you’ll definitely want to book a cabin with swimming pool access!  At American Patriot Getaways, we offer a wide variety of cabins from secluded out in the woods to cabins in resorts. Many local area resorts offer at least one swimming pool – some of them with indoor and outdoor options or kids’ pool areas as well!  By booking a cabin with a resort swimming pool, you’ll make sure you can stay nice and cool during those warm summer nights.  

Cabins with Private Pools

Of course, if sharing resort pools isn’t for you, you can always book a cabin with a private swimming pool!  American Patriot Getaways offers several cabins with their very own indoor swimming pools for a more exclusive experience.  Imagine spending all day out in the hustle and bustle of the Smoky Mountains and surrounding towns and coming being able to relax with your family in a private pool!  Take a look at all our options and get ready to book your trip today.  

The indoor pool at Sawmill SpringsWater Safety

Make sure when you swim in one of the best swimming holes in the Smoky Mountains you exercise caution.

Streams in the Smoky Mountains can rise quickly after periods of rain.  Even if it’s not actively raining where you are, be aware of weather conditions around you, as low elevation water can rise fast during an upstream rain storm.

Water shoes are recommended in Smoky Mountain swimming holes.  River rocks can be sharp or slick, and water shoes will help you protect your feet.

Avoid swimming directly in the path of a rapid or waterfall.  Strong currents can pull swimmers underwater or cause you to get your foot stuck under a rock.

While there are 23 species of snakes in the Smoky Mountains, only two are venomous.  The Northern Copperhead and the Timber Rattlesnake are both residents here.  Keep an eye out for snakes while on the edge of water, as snakes prefer sunny and rocky outcroppings.  Always give snakes plenty of space and never try to grab or move a snake.

See this video for safety tips when you’re near the water in the Smoky Mountains:

Now that you know the best places to swim in Gatlinburg, it’s time to book that trip and get planning!  Let us help with our useful vacation guides! Insider tips to help you plan the perfect Smoky Mountain vacation.   You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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