Beating the Heat Outside

Dive into nature to cool off this summer in West Virginia’s natural swimming spots.


Photographed by Melissa Perella Photography

It’s hot this week. Temperatures across West Virginia are sitting happily in the mid-80s and stretching to the 90s, and it’s only June. Remember when we challenged you to a summer of outdoor fun? Just because the weather is a little too warm doesn’t mean we’re going to let you off the hook. In fact, hot weather is a perfect opportunity to revisit a classic West Virginia summer pastime—swimming holes.

When was the last time you felt the slightly unsettling suction of mud squishing between your toes? The little nibble of fish inspecting your feet? What about your kids? Have they ever spent a good 20 minutes trying to catch the minnows in a tide pool? While there’s plenty to be said for the waterslides and ice cream cones of the local pool, natural swimming holes are far less expensive and tons of fun for adults and kids alike.

One of our favorite locations is near Shupe’s Chute at Holly River State Park south of Buckhannon on State Route 20. Holly River State Park is also the second largest state park in West Virginia. If you decide not to go swimming, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from camping and picnicking to visiting the West Virginia Wildlife Center. Check out the new West Virginia Trail Inventory for a look at the many different hiking trails around the area, too.

Getting to Holly River: From Buckhannon, take Route 20 South about 35 miles to Holly River State Park. From the park, continue south on Route 20 about one mile to Holly River Left Fork Road and turn left. Drive 4.1 miles to the road on the right marked with a small sign for Shupe’s Chute and Potato Knob. Park and walk, following the signs to the Upper Falls and to Shupe’s Chute. If you follow the Potato Knob path even farther, you will come to Lower Falls, which are more isolated.

WARNING: As fun as swimming holes are, make sure you watch your younger group members on the rocks, and do not swim if the current is strong.



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