Where to beat the heat with a dip in the water

The early morning sun shines across Lake Owyhee near the Owyhee Dam on Sunday, June 27, 2021. ANGELINA KATSANIS/The Enterprise

With record-breaking heat comes the itch to swim.

Luckily, Malheur County has ample spots to dip your toes in and cool off for the day.

The Vale City Pool has open swim for an admission of $4 for swimmers over 3 every Monday-Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. unless otherwise posted on their Facebook page. The pool is located on 316 Main St. S. The fee was waived for Tuesday and Wednesday, although the pool is limited to 100 people.

Another popular water spot is the Ontario Splash Park at 790 S.W. Third Ave. in Ontario. Admission is $1 per person for those over 7, and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The fee is being waived for the first 100 people each day through Saturday under a program where donors are sponsoring the day.

Layton Stowell, 4, plays under the giant mushroom sprinkler at Ontario’s Splash Park on Friday, June 25, 2021. ANGELINA KATSANIS/The Enterprise

For more natural locations, the waterfronts of eastern Oregon provide picturesque swimming spots. Bully Creek Reservoir is nine miles west of Vale and offers swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities. Visitors can also call (541) 473-2969 to reserve one of the 40 camping spots at the county campground at $15 per night.

All spots along the reservoir are safe for swimming, but Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe advises people to exercise caution.

“Every year, we’re called upon to go and recover bodies of people who drowned while recreating,” Wolfe said. “That’s why we ask to never go to any of these places alone, know your skill level, and be careful with alcohol.”

Lake Owyhee and the Owyhee River below the dam also have access points for swimming and boating. People can also stay for the night at one of the two campgrounds, McCormack or Indian Creek, at Lake Owyhee State Park.

Snively Hot Springs is also on the way to the State Park, though is better at keeping visitors warm than cool.

Two brothers take a soak in Snively Hot Springs with their grandmother on Sunday, June 27, 2021. ANGELINA KATSANIS/The Enterprise

Finally, people can visit the Ontario State Recreation Site to access the Snake River. However, the river has strong undercurrents and trees that swimmers can get trapped in, warranting even more caution.

“We’re not opposed to anyone recreating or trying to cool off, but just know your limits and use good judgment,” Wolfe said.

More photos on Instagram: @malheurenterprise

News tip or photo ideas? Contact Photojournalist Angelina Katsanis at [email protected]


Take one action today to help the Enterprise grow and do more for the community through accurate, fair reporting.

SUBSCRIBE: A monthly digital subscription is $5 a month.

GIFT: Give someone you know a subscription.

ONE-TIME PAYMENTContribute, knowing your support goes towards more local journalism you can trust.