In the last decade, Instagram helped make outdoor recreation more popular than ever. People tune into accounts that showcase the beauty of the wild places and want to experience them in person. The National Parks are more crowded than ever. Many limit entries to walk-ins and public transportation. To many, the good secret spots are lost to the crowds. This is especially so for any location with water access. And even more so during these hot summer days.
But all is not lost. With a little bit of homework, scouting, and effort, there are many unspoiled summer swim spots. Here are a few tips on how to find one that's hiding near you.
1. Use Instagram to beat Instagram.
Loose lips sink ships. It may have been true in the second world war, but it’s definitely true about Instagram. Influencer accounts that name locations often find those locations swarmed in return trips. Every state has a few IG accounts that highlight the beauty of the state. A lot of them will identify the locations. Most of those locations will be busy. Using these popular locations as a starting points, you can find nearby alternatives. Being willing to travel a few more miles up or downstream is all it takes. Load your lunch in an NOMAD Soft Cooler and explore. The further you go, the fewer people you’ll encounter, the more secret swimming holes you can find.
2. E-scout a new spot
Google Earth and its satellite imagery is a fantastic tool for discovery. Water is easy to find as it stands out from its surroundings. Additionally, you can download water source KML files from several different data sources. Import them into a Google Earth Layer. The combination of specific KML points and satellite imagery can help you gauge a location’s potential.
Looking at canyon systems often reveals spots where a river or stream dams up, slows down, and gets deep. These are the potential gems you’re looking for. Mark them on Google Earth, export them to your favorite GPS device, and go verify the location. Take your swimsuit in case that potential pays off, and you find a new honey hole. Keep a cooler like an Outfitter 35 in the car for when you get back. Nothing will beat an ice-cold drink after a long dry hike.
3. Be patient and willing to work
The first two steps require the third—patience and work. Nothing good comes easy, and that’s especially true when looking for secret swim spots. Researching electronic resources like IG accounts and remote imagery takes time. Scouting potential spots takes work. Especially considering the most popular areas tend to be easy to get to. Unpopular gems won't be easy to get to. Be willing to work. Recognize the work and discovery process as part of the reward. You’re bound to find swimmable water you have yourself if you don't give up looking.
And when you do, share the photos, but keep that location to yourself. Loose lips sink ships.