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5 Fun Water Holes Near Groveland CA

A sunny day at a watering hole in Yosemite

Some people love to enjoy a hot summer day by lounging around and swimming in the safe waters of a pool. Others prefer the old fashioned joy of paddling around in a natural pool or stream.  And still others search out cliffs and waterfalls to jump into eye-popping cold water. Water that was ice an hour before.  Swimming pool people, these recommendations may not be for you! All others, here are five great ideas for some summer swimming fun.

So put on your suits, get out your waterproof sunscreen and water shoes!  There are some wonderful swimming holes just a short drive from the Groveland Hotel. Here are 5 of them:

Rainbow Pool in Groveland, CA

Here is a great stop either on the way to or from Yosemite. There are bathrooms nearby, but sometimes parking is difficult, if it is crowded.

Rainbow pools are natural swimming holes formed along the south fork of the Tuolumne River.  The area is rocky, not sandy, with some folks jumping from rocks into the cool water. Make sure you have the proper footgear, as the rocks can be mossy and slippery.  At one end, there is a small waterfall, which is gorgeous. There is less of a slope on the far side, which makes for wading or just relaxing and dipping your feet in the water. Bring water and snacks, as there is nothing close by.

Directions: 15 miles East of Groveland on Hwy 120. Once you pass the View Point parking area (Rim of the World), watch for a right turn just before the big bridge.

Carlon Falls in Groveland, CA

Carlon Falls is actually in Yosemite, but the trailhead is just outside the park, so you can visit without a pass.  There is a 2.25 mile (each way) hike from the trailhead, going upstream with the river on your right side. There are several rather steep uphill/downhill climbs on the trail.

Before you get to the falls, there are a couple of smaller swimming holes, or, go all the way to the falls, where there are larger pools right at and under the falls.  You can also hike to the top of the falls for several more pools for wading or hiking. The amount and force of the water will vary with the season and rainfall, but be aware that the rocks can be slippery. Carlon Falls is one of the waterfalls that usually has water year round.

Directions: Hwy 120 to Evergreen Rd, one mile to Carlon Day Use area.

God’s Bath in Sonora CA

The path into the Clavey River Canyon starts from the Northeast corner of the bridge.  There are ropes to assist you down the steep and sandy trail. Once you have reached the canyon, it is about a mile of rock-hopping and wading upstream until you reach the pools.

There are several pools, including a granite bridge. You can jump off the waterfall/cliff, and swim under the bridge and pop out in a hole milled by the water.

Directions: Hwy 120E 15 miles to left turn onto Cherry Lake Rd until you reach Cherry Lake, then continue on Cottonwood Rd another 15 miles until you reach the Cottonwood Bridge, park in one of the pullouts

Natural Bridges Hiking Trail in Vallecito, CA

No matter how hot the day, the water will be cold running through the caves carved by Coyote Creek.  (Snow melt from the Sierra Nevadas!) There is a one mile hike from the trailhead to the water, with a restroom at the start. Bring with you lots of water, snacks, and (optional but a lot of fun) a flotation device.  Make sure you have foot coverings that work in the water to protect your feet from sharp rocks.  The trail is wide and easy enough, but don’t wander far off the trail–there is lots of poison oak on either side.

Best time to go is early in the day to have the area to yourself.  The creek enters and exits the cave; the entrance water is quite shallow, but it gets deeper, darker and colder as you go into the cave.  Here is where the flotation device comes in (or you could use a life jacket)!  Float on your back and use a headlamp (or your phone, if you have it in a waterproof case) to shine up to the ceiling of the cave and check out the stalagmites and stalactites.

Directions: Hwy 4 to Parrots Ferry Rd, travel 4 miles to marked Trailhead. No pets allowed.

Cleo’s Bath in Pinecrest, CA

This swimming hole and waterfall has a 7 mile hike (loop); so if you are up for it, go! The hike is challenging in parts, but scenic.

Once you reach the water, there are two main swimming areas that comprise Cleo’s Bath.  The main pool is about 60 feet across and about 6 feet deep. The second is a 15 foot waterfall with a small swimming area underneath it. Some brave souls jump from the top of the waterfall to the hole beneath, but do beware! There are cascades outside of the waterfall that would be dangerous to be caught in.

Directions: Hwy 108 E to Pinecrest Lake

Whenever you are going to a natural pool, waterfall or stream, please make sure that you check to make sure that the area has not been closed due to weather or fire conditions. Conditions can vary greatly from season to season.

  • Check river and stream conditions before heading out on your adventure and always let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Inspect swimming areas carefully. Sometimes hazards might not be evident from a quick glance.
  • Don’t assume you have the swimming skills to keep you afloat, even the strongest swimmers are not a match for some water conditions. Consider bringing a flotation device.
  • Keep a close watch on children even if they are far from the water. Water safety for children is especially important as they can quickly enter the water when your attention is diverted for only a moment.
  • Be extremely careful when walking, playing or climbing on slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams.
  • Don’t swim or wade upstream from a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow or calm.
  • Be cautious of sudden drop-offs.

We want you to have fun, and come back to your comfortable room at Groveland Hotel and tell us all about your adventures!

The Groveland 18767 Main Street circle logo

Summer Menu

Small Bites & Shares

Southwest Chicken Spring Rolls with Pico de Gallo $12

Vegetable Samosas with cilantro chutney $12

Heirloom Tomato Flatbreads with grape tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, pesto, balsamic reduction $14

Grilled Chicken Wings with teriyaki, pineapple pepper relish, scallions, peanuts $14

Truffle and Parmesan French Fries with garlic aioli $11

Charcuterie and Cheese Plate with mostarda, crackers, whole grain mustard $16



Fiesta Salad with romaine, Pico de Gallo, black beans, avocado, pepper jack cheese, chipotle ranch $13

House Caesar Salad with parmesan crisps, garlicky croutons, lemon Caesar dressing $12

Artisan Salad with apple, celery, dried apricots, cucumber, pumpkin seed vinaigrette $12

*Add Shrimp +$14, Chicken +$10, Steak +$14, or Salmon +$12



Vegetarian Orecchiette Pasta $24

with Spring vegetables, tomato coulis, pecorino Romano

Fried Chicken Sliders $22

with brioche bun, sweet pickles, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and house fries

Wagyu Burger Sliders $24

with aged cheddar, brioche bun, mustard aioli, romaine lettuce and house fries

Blackened Chicken Tacos $24

with flour tortilla, jack cheese, black bean aioli, mango salsa and tortilla chips

Pan Roasted Salmon $32 

with cous-cous tabouleh, seasonal vegetable, citrus vinaigrette

Jumbo Shrimp and Potato Gnocchi $34 

with English peas, mushrooms, heirloom tomato, lemon butter sauce

Grilled Steak Frittes $42

with Prime NY strip, house fries, chimi churi sauce



Room 110 is situated at the back of the hotel in the Annex building on the lower floor.  This cozy room features a queen bed, with a large private bathroom containing a tub/shower.  This room accommodates two guests. This is a pet-friendly room.

Accessibility Features: Entry door is 32” wide; there is an outlet within 4’ of the telephone jack; the door lock is located 44” from the floor; there is more than 36” of room to the right side of the bed; hangers are located 53” off the ground.  Currently, the door handle is a historic twist knob, but we are working with our locksmith to replace this with a levered handle that can easily be operated with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching or twisting the wrist.

The bathroom has room to do a t-turn; the toilet seat is 18” off the ground and has a grab bar located behind the toilet; the wash basin is 30” off the ground with insulated pipes; the wash basin faucet is easy to operate with one hand without tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist; the towel racks are 46” off the floor; the bathroom floors are slip resistant.  There are no grab bars on an adjacent wall in the bathroom for the toilet as there is not an adjacent wall to place them on. 

The tub has faucet controls positioned at the center of the end wall and open side of the tub; faucet can easily be turned on and off with one hand without tight grasping, pinching or twisting the wrist; there is a grab bar at the foot of the tub and at the head of the tub; and there are two 40” grab bars alongside the tub to serve for low and high needs.  The fixtures in the bathtub are historic and therefore we do not have a 60” hand held shower wand.

Due to the historic nature of our property, our rooms are fairly small, therefore we are unable to provide 36” around both sides and the foot of the bed.  However, we do provide full clearance between the door and the right side of the bed.

You can book this room online or please call us 24 hours/7 days a week at 209-962-4000 or email us at guestservices@groveland.com and we would be happy to find the room that most meets your needs.  

Pet Friendly

Your search for pet-friendly vacation lodging near Yosemite National Park ends here.  Our four-legged guests love the Groveland Hotel as much as our two-legged ones!  We’re happy to offer select pet-friendly rooms, located on the first floor, for your stay in Groveland, California.  The pet fee is $75 per reservation, with a limit of one pet per guest.  We welcome pets 60 lbs or less.

For dog-friendly activities near the Groveland Hotel, we recommend a walk along the Hetch Hetchy Railroad or going for a refreshing dip in the pet-friendly Rainbow Pools swimming hole.  If you are heading into Yosemite National Park, check their website for pet rules and restrictions.

Looking for a local dog sitter/boarder where you can keep your dogs for the day while exploring Yosemite?  There is a great nearby facility called Big Creek Boarding.