Swimmin’ in the Willamette Valley

I remember back when we would swim in the Calapooia River on hot summer days as kids.


My older brothers and I would be in our swimming trunks and sneakers headed over the Lyon St. Bridge with towels over our shoulders ready to jump in the old Calapooia swimming hole. This was when the walking bridge still connected Bryant and Monteith Park and people swam there by the dozens. Kids were catching crawdads, teenagers were jumping from the footbridge, and parents laid on beach towels along the shore with their feet soaking in the water.


In fact, the Calapooia swimming hole down at Bryant Park and Monteith had been the bee’s knees since the 1920s when it resembled a waterpark fitted with bleachers, a towering waterslide, a high dive, and wood posts kids leapt from.

Courtesy of Albany Regional Museum, Potts Photo Collection



In the 90’s we still found adventure jumping from the footbridge and leaping from the rope swing up river. Today, if you’re looking for a local swimming hole it won’t take long with over 100,000 miles of river in the valley and more than 1,400 lakes throughout Oregon.


Check out a few fun swimming holes in the Valley you can make a splash in this summer:


Eugene‘s Mount Pisgah Arboretum trail takes you on a nature hike with views of the valley and leads you to a pebble beach to cool off:

Google Map for Arboretum


Foster Lake in Sweet Home has Lewis Creek Park with picnic tables, restrooms, and a sectioned off swimming area with a beach:

Google Map for Lewis Creek Park


Just outside of Silverton are beautiful falls to swim beneath. Scott Mills Falls Park is perfect for the family with shallow water, picnic tables, playground, and restrooms:

Google Map for Scott Mills Falls


Corvallis has Mary's River Natural Area with a popular swimming spot close by on Mary’s River behind Pioneer Park:

Google Map for Mary's River Natural Area


In Salem, Wallace Marine Park sandbar provides a shallow river pool to splash in near downtown. Taking a boat trip on the lower Willamette through Portland will also reveal numerous swimming holes where you’ll see kids jumping from docks and high rock faces.

Visit the Albany Regional Museum for more history on the Willamette and Calapooia River and check out their site at https://www.armuseum.com/



Works Cited:


Albany Regional Museum. (n.d.). Potts Photo Collection. Albany Regional Museum. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.armuseum.com/potts-photo-collection


Oregon Water Resources Department. (n.d.). Streams, lakes, and Dams. Water Resources Department : Streams, Lakes, and Dams : Streams, Lakes, and Dams : State of Oregon. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.oregon.gov/OWRD/programs/streamslakessanddams/Pages/default.aspx#:~:text=With%20more%20than%20100%2C000%20miles,is%20renowned%20for%20its%20water.


Morgan, Taj Barnhart. “Popular Summer Swimming Holes.” Natural Swimming Holes | Eugene, Cascades & Oregon Coast, Eugene, Cascades & Coast - Travel Lane County, 20 Sept. 2021, https://www.eugenecascadescoast.org/blog/post/natural-swimming-holes/.


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