When the temperature starts to climb, locals in the Columbia Basin start looking for places to swim and escape the heat around the Tri-Cities. With clear running water, plentiful sun and lots of beautiful scenery, the Columbia Basin offer a wealth of places to cool off in nature’s swimming holes.
Each of these seven parks at various points across the Tri-Cities is great for swimming, paddleboarding, fishing, playing, wildlife viewing and letting the dogs loose to splash in the water.
Howard Amon Park
A popular spot for locals, Howard Amon Park in Richland is the perfect place to gather with family, friends and pets. With 46-acres along the Columbia River, this park boasts a beautiful view from the small beach along with safe swim areas, waving shade trees, picnic areas and a playground. Also, find a half basketball court, tennis courts, boat ramp, walking trail, fishing area and water feature pool for the kids.
Chamna Natural Preserve
A 276-acre natural park, Chamna Preserve, gives those seeking the water a quieter spot and slightly warmer water temperature than the parks along the Columbia. Chamna sits along the Yakima River and offers a river trail to secret swimming holes, although you may be joined by the disconcerted and busy river otters or other wildlife. Visitors can launch small boats, and many enjoy riding innertubes on the Yakima River.
Leslie Groves Park
For a fun day in the sun, don’t miss Leslie Groves Park in Richland. It’s a wonderful place to take the kids, or you can enjoy some quiet solo swimming and relaxing. The park features a roped-off area of the Columbia River for swimming and additionally offers a semi-wide beach with sand for sunbathing or castle-building. The beach slopes up a hill and into a broad park of stately shade trees, space for picnicking, playground, and walking trails. Restroom facilities and covered picnic areas are available. Since the park sits at the rear of a residential neighborhood, it is rumored to be a quiet place to swim, play and relax, although there is no shortage of playmates for the kids.
With 127-acres of natural beauty on the Pasco side of the Columbia River, Chiawana Park is a local favorite. Besides being a pleasant spot to take a dip, Chiawana offers an expansive lawn of shade trees, a covered picnic area, playground, volleyball court, boat launch, trails and restroom facilities. There is no beach to speak of, but this makes for a less crowded spot than some other parks.
Sacajawea Historical State Park
Sacajawea Historical State Park is an expansive 267-acres at the meeting of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. There is a designated swimming area on the river, and you can also enjoy water skiing and watercraft activities. When you dry off, the park also offers boating, camping, trails, wildlife viewing, horseshoe pits, volleyball field and interpretive activities.
The park is named for the interaction in 1805 between Lewis and Clark while accompanied by guide and emissary Sacagewea when the Corps of Discovery interacted with native tribes at this meeting of the two rivers. Exhibits feature the history of this expedition. Sacajawea Park is a lot more than just swimming and offers a full range of activities. Access requires a Discover day pass.
Two Rivers Park
Two Rivers Park in Kennewick is another popular spot for locals to play and swim. On the bank of the Columbia River, the park offers 273-acres of lagoon swimming, shade trees, picnic tables, trails, boating and a 21-hole disc golf course. The narrow peninsula extending between the river and swimming lagoon winds through the shade trees that form a canopy and is a peaceful spot to lounge, relax and watch the kids swim.
Just across the bridge from Sacajawea, the Hood Park day-use area on the Snake River in Burbank offers a sunny swim beach with a large designated swim area, picnic tables, playground, grills, horseshoe pits, basketball court, trail and fish ponds. There is also has a boat launch and camping areas.
There is no shortage of parks in the Tri-Cities to find relief from the heat and sun and to fill the long summer days with swimming and a wealth of other activities for kids and adults alike. Try park-hopping during the summer months to discover the unique beauty and experiences each spot has to offer.