Blue Hole is no longer one of the best kept secrets in the Catskills—it's now one of the most popular swimming holes in the Northeast. Due to this boom in popularity, a permit is now required to access this destination on weekends and holidays from May 15 to Oct. 15. This refreshing oasis is worth a visit but visitors are expected to follow strict rules, including no barbecues and no glass bottles.
The Blue Hole is a deep swimming hole on Rondout Creek in the Sundown Wild Forest. Brace yourself as you stand on top of the cool rock ledge: the blueish-green water below you is cold. It may take your breath away. It may be the closest you ever want to come to the polar bear plunge. You jump anyway. After you swim to the bank, you’ll have a hard time coming up with a more refreshing way to escape a sweltering summer afternoon.
But the secret is out. In 2015, the Blue Hole began topping lists of the best swimming holes in the country. It got so crowded on certain weekends that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) enacted emergency regulations for 2016 to ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy the Blue Hole safely and sustainably for years to come. In June 2018, a permitting system was introduced, requiring visitors to obtain a permit before visiting Blue Hole on weekends and holidays from May 15 through Oct. 15.
Know Before You Go
- A permit is required to visit the Blue Hole on weekends and holidays May 15 through Oct. 15. Apply for your permit here.
- Blue Hole is open one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
- Camping is prohibited in the vinicity of the Blue Hole.
- The use of portable restroom facilities is required.
- Fires, grills, and the use of portable generators are prohibited.
- No glass containers. Pack cans or plastic instead. Glass is a bad idea because it breaks, which is dangerous for barefoot swimmers who walk along the bank.
- No portable radios, stereos, or other audio devices.
- Take the garbage from your picnic to the dumpster on your way out.
- Parking is restricted on Peekamoose Road and limited to designated parking lots. It’s tough to find a spot and parking is enforced by forest rangers. Simply put: If you park along the shoulder of Peekamoose Road, you can expect to drive home with a parking ticket.
One unintended consequence of the surge in visitors is the stress placed on the creeks and streams that flow into Rondout Reservoir, which supplies New York City’s drinking water. The Blue Hole sits on Rondout Creek, immediately upstream from the reservoir and several campsites in the Sundown Wild Forest.