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swing over the river with 2 kids

Let Loose and Stay Cool With a Splash - Rope Swinging

When it gets hot outside, there's no better way to have fun cooling off than swinging and splashing from a rope. The longer the better, but be a little careful as this thrill is not without some risks.

They range from simply fun to major thrills. Construction of the rope swing on wild water follows roughly the same guidelines as that of the yard swing. To use a 1 inch thick manila or sisal rope makes it easy to hold on to and very safe. Coat the ends of the rope with rubber or whipping to prevent fraying. To prime the seats and then put multiple coats of spray paint is also a good idea.

More wild water rope swing tips:

Half of our work is finding the perfect branch. We climb up in the tree and test several spots, making sure it’s a good swing and that there’s enough space for swinging without banging into the tree trunk or a fence... Make sure it is far enough away from the tree that the kids won't swing on it and slam back in to the tree.

Cut off any excess rope so that the rope does not touch the water. There is a risk with these rope swings that conditions change: a tree may get old, or grow taller; a rope may wear out; the lake or river depth may change; animals may move into the neighborhood; or the bottom beneath the water may become covered by debris. Some of these changes could happen in a short period of time. It is simple to check these things out in advance of your big fun, so please spend some time confirming the conditions.

Try the rope swing out yourself first. Start with small swings with low momentum. Swim into the water and dive down in a few different places to confirm the water depth. Think about where the rope will carry the rider out to.

Cautions when using wild water rope swings

  • depth of water
  • surface below the water (mud, rock)
  • bacteria, crocodiles, or other dangers in the water
  • know the rope geometries of swinging
  • if you can touch the bottom, the water is not deep enough
  • don't drink and swing (or swim)
  • water conditions change -- check frequently before starting to splash
River Rope Swing in Shade

In with a splash
Whether a river, lake, or ocean, the result is always the same: getting wet. How many times and how many tricks you do is your own story.

Big Rope Swing water drop near rocks

Many locations, shapes, and sizes
The higher and longer the rope the bigger the ride. Bigger ropes are easier to hold on to, and have less tendency to twist or rotate. A knot at the end of the rope provides the easiest dismount; whereas a wooden seat provides the nicest ride. With just a knot, it's a little risk that you'll fall off early if you don't hang on. With a wooden seat, there could be some risk that you miss the dismount. Hopefully you don't go back smashing into the bank or a rock or tree on shore.

summer rope swing in water

Acrobats Delight
This delivers real exhilarating fun. A single-rope swing has a tendency to rotate so a rider will face different directions while riding. Don't let go the rope too early, nor too late. Take your first swing attempt from a lower starting point.
Kid enjoying swinging into a lake

Wild water swing gear
A camera is a good thing to start with. Also, some water shoes will often be useful for clambering back onto dry land after your splash. For women, a great choice of water shoes is available at Amazon: Speedo Women's Surfwalker. For men, a Columbia version may be best: Columbia Men's Hydratooth Water Shoe. Or keep it simple with this choice: the Cudas Flatwater.

Bring your own rope
This rope, available from Amazon, is a half-inch sisal 100 foot durable and natural swing in-the-making. It has a larger diameter than most ropes you'll find in this price range, giving a better grip and allowing better knots for swinging.

Puhi - Kipu Falls Rope Swing - Kauai Hawaii

Directions and Additional Info:
Take Highway 50 west from Lihu'e. One mile past Puhi, at Mile Marker #3, turn left on Kipu Road. At the 'Y', bear to the right. After a short while on the dirt road you'll see a trail on your left. There will probably be a bunch of cars there already. Kipu Road Puhi, Hawaii, 96766 United States

Misc. commentary: This place is definitely one of the best locations I found on the island. Lots of locals here, some tourists. There is actually a group that does guided tours into the falls as part of a zip line and kayak adventure tour that looked pretty cool. The rope swing itself is about a 25-30 ft drop into the base pool of Kipu falls, which is fed by Hule'ia Stream. The cliffs that surround the pool are about 20 ft and you can jump off those at certain points too. There's a steel ladder that goes up the side of the cliffs when you're getting out and it's 10x easier than climbing up the tree, but it can get pretty slippery. All in all it's one of the best rope swings I've ever hit. You can back up on the side of the hill to get higher or climb the tree and jump out for a 40 ft drop. I've never heard of the pool depth being a problem, even for the crazy dude jumping from the tree. There are usually plenty of people out there and it's worth the walk down there to just check it out even if you're not going to bust the rope swing.

  1. Reference info page.
  2. Outfitters' page for Kipu Falls Zipline Trek (morning ) - half-day zip, hike, ropeswings, waterfalls.
  3. Huleia River on another part of Kauai has the rope swing used by Indiana Jones (in Raiders of the Lost Ark).


Directions and Additional Info:
Rope swing in seeley valley west of 89, Rocky Mountains.
  1. Main Reference

Northern California - Marin

Directions and Additional Info:
An excellent swing into Bass Lake, Point Reyes National Seashore. This is in Marin County, California. The spring-fed lake is beautiful and refreshing, though it is a bit of a hike to reach this fun spot.
  1. Map to Bass Lake rope swing location in California.

Northern California - Russian River

Directions and Additional Info:
Northern California, Russian River, Canoe trips with guides.
  1. Adventures site reference.

Northern California - Sacramento

Directions and Additional Info:
Lake Natoma, American River, Sacramento. There are two or three rope swings at different places around this lake. It does get quite hot here, and believe me, these rope swings are a blast to help cool off in times like that. There's also a great cycling course around the lake (bicycles) which is also nice for running.

Manoa - Jackass Ginger Pool - Oahu, Hawaii

Directions and Additional Info:
The Judd Trail, known as Jackass Ginger, crosses a shallow, rocky stream and passes bamboo, ironwood and eucalyptus forests before coming to a small waterfall, which trickles into a refreshing pool.

Misc. commentary: he Jackass Ginger Pool is really more of a swimming hole than a waterfall attraction. I saw a couple of local boys using rope swings to plunge over these 10ft falls and into the pool below, about 8 feet deep. The rope swing makes for an adventurous dip and a slippery rock can be used as a slide. (The trail is also where ABC's hit show "Lost" filmed many of their scenes, including Eko's death and the mysterious Jacob's home.)

  1. Reference for Oahu Trails.

Manoa - Kapena Falls - Oahu, Hawaii

Real easy trail. Drive through Nuuanu Cemetery. The trailhead starts from a parking area right behind the pagoda. There are a couple of small cascades before Kapena Falls. Kapena Falls is only 20' high.

Misc. commentary: Watch for breakins - don't leave valuables in cars. Hikers with decades of experience on Oahu trails will attest to never having contracted Leptospirosis. (Knock on wood!) It's just a danger that all hikers should be aware of regarding hikes in Hawaii and an assumption of risk the hiker needs to make. The highest number of cases of human leptospirosis in the U.S. is said to come from two regions in the State of Hawaii--Kauai and the east coast of Hawaii (Big island). 70% of the cases of leptospirosis come from these two areas. On Oahu, Kapena Falls (Nuuanu Stream behind Nuuanu Mortuary and Cemetery) is the single most frequently identified site of exposure for recreationally acquired leptospirosis. From 1985 to 1992, 10 confirmed cases were associated with swimming at this site, including one fatality.

  1. Reference for Kapena falls.
  2. Multi-waterfall hike info pages.

Southern Oregon - Ashland

Directions and Additional Info:
Ashland Reservoir has a rope swing from beneath shady trees.
  1. Photos of a jump off Ashland's swing.





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