The Best Natural Waterparks In The United States

Life & Culture Writer
07.01.19

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Tell us there’s something better than a waterpark. Just you try. Being propelled down a chute by rushing water, swinging on a rope like Tarzan before letting go and plunging into a cool pool, and riding an innertube down a lazy river are all core ingredients in the recipe for an epic summer.

The only downsides? The crowds. The… capitalism of it all. The pricey snacks and hair-in-pools. The chlorine. And now that we list them out like that, these things do sort of drain some of the joy from a waterpark experience.

So what’s better than a waterpark? A natural waterpark. Rock slides, rope swings, and swimming holes. Visiting national and state parks, hiking, and getting wet under the shade of old growth forests. We gathered ten natural waterparks here for your enjoyment. Many of them have waterslides carved into riverbeds by centuries of erosion, but there are also some rope swings and even a quarry with a zip line. They make for a perfect summer day trip if you’re that close. If not… well… summer is the time for road trips!

Johnson’s Shut-Ins (Reynolds County, Missouri)

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➾🅳🄰🅈 ⑤②: Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is AWESOME!! It’s literally a natural water park and we had so much fun wading through creeks, sliding down a short rapids and floating in a swim hole. Totally makes up for the insanely humid weather here! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Tomorrow we’re going back and I’m taking a pool noodle with me so I can float around in peace ✌️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . #travelswithletwinkie #airstream #airstreamlife #airstreamadventures #homeonwheels #homeiswhereyouparkit #liveriveted #myliverivetedlife #lifestyledesign #mytravelgram #travelcouple #travelbloggers #travelblogging #travelpreneur #tblogger #thattravelblog #travellifestyle #nomadiclife #rvliving #fulltimetravel #johnsonsshutins #exploremissouri #travelmore #wonderfulplaces #openmyworld #lovetotravel #adventurethatislife #adventure_time #adventureseeker #exploreamerica

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Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is located on the East Fork Black River in the southeastern part of the state. It’s named for the shut-ins — those areas where the scope of the river is altered by hard rocks that fail to erode under the force of the water. This creates a series of small pools and chutes that people ride in swirls of water. Because the rocks in the area are igneous ones that have been worn smooth, you can get going pretty fast when the flow is strong. Take the obstacle course that includes shallow dips, deep pools, and cascading pathways.

People in Missouri literally call this “nature’s waterpark,” so expect it to be fairly crowded. If you get a chance, go early on a sweltering weekday. And be sure to check the park website for the water conditions before you make the drive. They are generally fine, but if the river levels rise to a dangerous extent, the gates are closed.

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