This Iconic Natural Wonder Is Basically A Massive Rock Slip 'N Slide In North Carolina

Wait a minute: Is this a national park or an amusement park? Maybe a little of both. Sliding Rock is a long, sloping waterfall pouring 11,000 gallons per minute of 50-60 degree water over polished rock. The cascade naturally forms a 60-foot-long natural Slip 'N Slide, shooting you into an 8-10 foot-deep pool at the bottom. 


Rivaling the best waterparks in the Caribbean, this phenomenal site is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder, a water park built not by engineers but by eons of erosion. The Sliding Rock Recreation Area is part of the Pisgah National Forest, around an hour's drive from Asheville and just over 7 miles from the town of Brevard, capital of North Carolina's Land of Waterfalls.

It's well worth a visit on a sweltering summer afternoon — and if you're part polar bear, it's open, if unstaffed, all year long. And if a visit convinces you that chasing gorgeous waterfalls across the US is your thing, you can start locally by dropping into the Tourist Office in Brevard to pick up your free Brevard Adventure Guide and Waterfall Map listing over 250 local waterfalls, and go get wet and wild.


Plan a great day at Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock may have been built by mother nature, but the park is organized to accommodate visitors. Lifeguards and restrooms are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day and there is a $5 entry fee. This popular spot also comes with a few sensible rules intended to promote both safety and maximize access.


You can bring a life jacket (recommended for wee ones), but leave that pool float shaped like a giant glazed donut at home for this one, as only safety-oriented flotation devices are allowed. Shenanigans are also frowned upon — you must scoot onto the slide on your bottom and whoosh down it in a sitting position. Also, you'll want to leave the beer and potato chips in the cooler because picnicking isn't allowed, nor is alcohol. And you can see Spot run, but you can't see him slide, as dogs are allowed in the area on a leash but not on the waterfall itself. Lastly, perhaps it goes without saying, but non-swimmers aren't allowed to slide.

With a quarter-million visitors every summer, according to Asheville's Citizen-Times, the parking lot can fill up, so get there early, and if possible, plan on visiting on a weekday. As is the case with most outdoor adventures worth pursuing, cell service is reported to be spotty.


Things to do near Sliding Rock

Options abound for turning the Sliding Rock experience into an idyllic day or weekend, starting with a hike or picnic at Pink Beds, less than 4 miles away and part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Named for the local rhododendron blooms, this picnic area sports an easy nature loop. Visitors note on Tripadvisor that Pink Beds Trail is especially "spectacular" and "amazing" at night, thanks to the glittering fireflies that call the area home. And for history buffs, you can visit the neighboring Cradle of Forestry, a historic site commemorating the founding of the forest conservation movement.


One great way to prepare for the shocking cold splash of Sliding Rock is to start your day with a moderately challenging hike. The highly rated Black Balsam Knob trail, a short 16 miles away from Sliding Rock, climbs to sweeping 360-degree views. To fit more fun in, you can book a yurt at the nearby Brown Mountain Beach Resort for a relaxing North Carolina mountain getaway. After the adrenaline rush of Sliding Rock, this is a great place for you and your collection of pool noodles and inflatable unicorns to float the rest of the day away along Wilson Creek.