Cedar creek swimming hole hugh k telleria xorrew

Cedar Creek Falls in Douglas County, OR

For those of us who have figured out how to beat the heat at a local watering hole and are now frustrated with the crowds (we're looking at you, Oxbow Park!), we may have the solution.

Local Portland water bug Jacob Schirm created an app to guide you to the blissful bathing spot of your dreams. Oregon Swimming Holes features 231 lakes, pools, eddies, creeks and more throughout the state. You can search for a spot by name, region, rating, or use the map tool. With helpful information like water quality, crowd size, and swimming skill—as well as detailed descriptions and driving directions for out-of-the-way locations—the app could help you beat the heat and the crowds.

We chatted with Schirm to find out more about what inspired this ideal summer app.

What inspired you to create this app? I’ve always been more of an ocean guy and I was looking for information about swimming in rivers with my three kids. I kept coming across a swimming holes field guide by Relan Colley that went out of print in the late ‘90s and now costs upwards of $75 on Amazon. It seemed to be the definitive guide and I thought it would be cool to get that content on a phone. I contacted Relan and he was game. 

How did you get the data for these swimming holes? It all comes from Relan’s research. He put a lot of time into swimming in every one of these spots. In the app you can post pictures and add comments so I was hoping that would be a way for people to bring the content up to date.

How do you use the app? It’s a great tool to use when you’re on the road. When my son was 10 he was playing a lot of baseball out in Eastern Washington and that meant a lot of long, hot car trips. We would use the app to find places to stop and swim along the gorge, like Warehouse Beach near Pendleton, which is a really cool spot.

What’s your favorite swimming hole? Three Pools on the north fork of the Santiam. It’s popular and gets busy but if you can go midweek, it’s a pretty amazing spot. Unfortunately some of these places get a little overused and some people don’t show much respect. One thing that the app and Facebook community have helped do is get the word out about etiquette at these swimming holes. Everyone should be able to enjoy these places.

Oregon Swimming Holes is available for $4.99 from the iTunes store.

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