You may not know this, but the Bay Area has some pretty cool swim holes. Granted they may not match the natural splendor of Tahoe or Yosemite, but for a short drive, they can be an awesome time! There’s also some great campgrounds near these holes. Trust us, there’s nothing better than warming your bones by the campfire after a long day cannonballs! Here are our top picks:
Cannonball Camp: Speak of the devil! This place was made for cannonballs. It was also made for swimming, stargazing, SUPing, s’more-ing, and all of the other awesome things you can think of while camping. Available only on Hipcamp as a land sharing listing, when you stay at Cannonball Camp, your campsite sits on the edge of this privately-owned lake in Mendocino County. Lose the crowds, and lose the… clothes. Did someone say skinny dipping?
Photo by Hipcamper, Anna von Clemm
Bass Lake: This midsize lake is just over the Golden Gate and up the Point Reyes Coast. You’ll have to earn the swim with a 2.7 mile hike in, but then you can frolic like a Greek god (bathing suits are optional). You may want to consider a raft or a noodle (are you really going to be that person?), but we just usually stick with the rope swing! Camping? There are so many awesome spots to camp. Check it out!
If you’re looking for a private campsite, we recommend pitching your tent on a bluff overlooking the sparkly pacific ocean we’ve all come to know and love.
Sunset & Willow Creek Beach (Russian River): Sunset is very well known swimming hole in the Russian River in Sonoma County Sunset Park near Guerneville and attracts a diverse crowd. Like most swimming holes in the Bay Area, clothing is optional, although we hear people have been wearing a bit less of their birthday suits lately. However, you can change that!
Looking to camp nearby? It’s hard to go wrong at Bullfrog Pond Campground, where you can find quick ‘n easy redwood car camping at its finest. If you’re feeling a bit more glampy, The Cottage at RiverSea West is only 10-minutes away from the River.
Memorial Park, Redwood City, La Honda: This is a small swimming hole/creek, but it’s a top car-camping experience if you are up for it! You won’t find Memorial Park on many maps, but it is a beautiful spot (especially if you can get one of the creekside sites, C20-C22). You’ll be camping right on a beautiful creek amongst the redwoods. It’s also only a 30 minute drive from the epicness (we’re aware this isn’t a word) that is Big Basin Redwoods. Best part is…you can grab your spotwith us!
The “Garden of Eden” is a top beach on the San Lorenzo River in Felton. It’s just south of the Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is about as majestic as they come in the “outer Bay Area.” Not to mention there are insanely beautiful hikes all around, as well as perfect campgrounds to stay at. There are two deep pools, big rocks and even a waterfall. It is an adventure just to get there, but one that is well worth it.
Looking for a nearby Hipcamp? The Santa Cruz Mountains offer lots of sweet spots, but the Independence Camp sold us with a Japanese-style hot tub in the middle of the woods!