Pancho Doll, the author of four guidebooks about swimming holes, has traveled the country searching for the best get-wet spots. He says our area has many good ones, especially near the Shenandoahs.
Doll favors secluded spots—"places beyond beer-cooler distance," he says—but they can be hard to reach.
Doll makes an exception for one roadside spot in Virginia, called Blue Hole, which he rates "excellent." It's on the Dry River outside the village of Rawley Springs, 12 miles west of Harrisonburg and 150 miles from DC. It's cool and deep. There's a great boulder for jumping and a gravel beach. The best part: It's easy to find.
To get there, take US Route 33 west of Harrisonburg toward Rawley Springs. Stay on 33 as you pass Rawley Springs on your left. Just past town, look for a pull-off, also on the left. From there you'll see a path down the river.
For more suggestions, check out Doll's Web site, swimholes.com. Access to his Southeast section costs $8.95.