Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

Glacial Potholes

Cool off in the 50 whirling pools of the Glacial Potholes in western Massachusetts

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The Glacial Potholes found on the Deerfield River, at the base of Salmon Falls in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts are a testament to the creative power of geological time, ice and rock. The multitude of otherworldly potholes found here are one of the largest collections of natural potholes in the world and the site of the largest pothole on record.

The story of the Glacial Potholes, known as kettles in geological terms, dates back hundreds of millions of years, most recently taking the form they have today at conclusion of the last “Glacial Age.”

As the glaciers receded, fifty separate “pools” ranging from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter were formed. The round holes were ground down by granite "by a whirlpool effect of water and gyrating stones of varied sizes.” As a result of the constant whirling of the granite stones, the potholes took on a remarkably symmetrical and round shape. They continue to be formed to this day during the end-of-winter snow melt when water levels rise significantly and the grinding millstones, still found in the smaller potholes, are whipped up into swirling whirlpools.

Located steps away from The Bridge of Flowers, in western Massachusetts, a soak in the cool waters of the potholes can be a welcome respite on a muggy New England day. Although “closed” to the public since 2002, many curious travelers are drawn to the inviting pools, despite the police tape demarcating "No Entry."

Of course, the potholes have been known to suck unsuspecting swimmers to their watery depths so any swimming is done at ones own risk.

  • Hours
  • Website
  • Address
    Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, 01370, United States
  • Cost
    Free
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