Discover a beautiful swimming hole on Rock Creek, hidden deep in the ancient Santiam State Forest in the foothills of the northern Cascades. Surrounded by old-growth Douglas-fir, hemlock, red alder, and big leaf maple trees, the Rock Creek Recreation and Camping areas offer secluded camping, picnicking, hiking, and swimming opportunities. You will drive in wilderness roughly 3 miles along Rock Creek on unpaved and gravel roads before you reach this amazing swimming spot. The hole is located below a bridge. Beautiful waterfalls cascade off basalt cliffs and pour into a small but deep pool with clear green-emerald water. You can access the swimming area either climbing down the cliffs or use a trail on the left of the bridge (longer but easy!).
Campsites and Recreation Areas offer seasonal restrooms, picnic tables, trash service, and fire rings. The gate is open for vehicles from May to September. The rest of the year walk-in access is allowed beyond the gate. Nightly camping fees do apply. Day-use is free.
Access allowed: May - September
Walking distance: Short
Day-use fees: None
No camping allowed near the swimming hole
3 rustic campsites are spread out along Rock Creek
Location: Santiam State Forest
GPS coordinates: 44.7089, -122.422
Elevation: 1,496 ft (456 m)
Rock Creek swimming hole is located:
- 5.7 miles southeast of Mill City
- 38 miles east of Salem
- 84 miles southeast of Portland
- 84 miles northeast of Eugene.
Body of water: Creek
Water quality: Transparent
Depth: Shallow and deep
Beach: River rocks, boulders, and basalt cliffs
Water T° (summer): Cool to warm
Driving Directions to Rock Creek Swimming Hole
- From I-5, take exit 253 (Salem) for Highway 22 East
- Turn onto Highway 22 and drive 28 miles to Mill City
- Turn right onto 1st street and take a left, right, and a slight left after crossing the bridge, staying on 1st Street
- Turn left on SE Kingwood Avenue and continue 2.1 miles to Rock Creek Road
- Turn right onto Rock Creek Road and follow 0.5 miles straight, then turn right (Rock Creek Camping Area sign)
- Drive 1.2 miles to the bridge, go left before the bridge. You will pass the gate.
- Drive along the creek 0.4 miles to the Rock Creek Recreation Area and then continue 1.1 miles to the next bridge (1.5 miles from the 1st to 2nd bridges). The swimming hole is below the bridge.