One of the coolest, low-cost day trips in Western NC.
February 16, 2016
Most fun you'll ever have on a dollar... several hours.
Initial terror anticipation... about 10 minutes.
5 octaves higher on your voice level... 1 millisecond!
Yeah, it's that cold...
If you visit the mountains of western North Carolina, there is certainly one place you do not want to miss. It's called Sliding Rock!
Located near Brevard, just 7 miles before Looking Glass Falls, you'll find an enchanted water hole with a 60-foot slippery rock lying before it. Generations of thrill-seeking people have slid down our infamous Sliding Rock, compliments the fast-flowing, bone-chilling, clean water! Some have even made the rock a summer pilgrimage, having visited it year after year... for generations.
If you live in western North Carolina, and chiefly Brevard, you already understand this area is America's "Land of Waterfalls". In fact, Transylvania County (yeah, spooky name) has about 250 waterfalls worth checking out.
Living in Canton, NC most of my life, I grew up in a family who was always enjoying the great outdoors of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our town is fortunately located just across Cold Mountain (yeah, the one in the movie) from Brevard. Every summer, on a Sunday afternoon during August, we spent the day with family and friends at the Pink Beds/Cradle of Forestry picnic area, just a few miles up the mountain from Sliding Rock. After a good ole fashioned barbecue, we would always cool off at Sliding Rock. I call it "the most fun you'll have all day on a dollar!"
Technically a waterfall, Sliding Rock consists of (1) a slippery, billion-year-old rock, flushed each minute with about 10,000 gallons of drinkable water, and (2) the pool at the bottom. It was created by nature, via millenniums of erosion and ice ages, and fed by the Davidson River.
Sliding Rock hasn't really changed much over the years. One can only imagine the fun the native Cherokee had at the rock during the thousands of years before European settlers arrived. Moreover, you can certainly deduce the time spent on location by the original road crews who carved the winding road along the river up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it easy for millions of visitors to enjoy Sliding Rock.
When I was a kid (in the 1970s) I recall how we generally parked our cars on the edge of the road and simply walked a short beaten path to the upper end of the rock.
Today, Sliding Rock NC is more than that. To the disdain of some and appreciation of others, it has become an official park, maintained by the great U.S. Forest Service. Your $1 per car load entrance fee (Memorial Day - Labor Day) gets you a parking place, bathrooms, changing rooms, and life guards (during business hours). The short path to the pool is now partly paved and there are two viewing locations - a large deck at the bottom of the slide behind the 7-foot deep pool, and a small one near the top. If you only want to jump in the pool, there are steps leading the way. And, don't worry about the walk back to the top of the slide. You have very secure hand railing to hold and that edge of the rock most often isn't wet.
If only Dad and the kids want to take a slide while Mom snaps wild-eyed photos from the observation deck, all will never forget the day. There's even an area where the pool drains (continuing the Davidson River) in which the toddlers can wade and hunt for crayfish and other river critters. When you've got your fill, you can head down the mountain and stop at one of the many quaint roadside pull-offs to drop a burger on the grill, sit around a camp fire and laugh at the recent video footage of little Billie making "number two" in the wading pool, or Dad doing showing off his infamous Olympic-style "doggie paddle".
During the summer, and especially on the weekends, you may want to get to the park early, as it will be crowded. Think about it... where else in the world can you have so much fun in nature for a dollar? Plus, it still gets in the mid to upper- 80s (degrees F) during the summer at that elevation, so visitors are a plenty.
Unlike the nearby Looking Glass Falls (where several people have died after slipping off the restricted area at the top), Sliding Rock welcomes the adventurous-minded thrill seeker. If all you want to do is just cool off in the fresh, spraying mist, or the waist-deep pool, or simply snap a photo of one of America's most beautiful waterfalls, Looking Glass Falls is for you. But, if you want a breath-taking ride and get wet while doing it, Sliding Rock NC is your destination. Actually, you can enjoy both locations in a single day, as they are within a few miles of each other (along with dozens of other waterfalls).
Oh, there is one place we would always stop at the end of the day, but I don't recall the name of the business. I'll have to get back with you on that. It's arguably the best ice-cream shop on the continent and is located at the first intersection you come to at the bottom of the mountain... on the left before the red light. Ah, the memories!
Getting here is easy. Simply take Highway 276, North from Brevard. You'll pass Looking Glass Falls on the right - which incidentally, you may want to stop and snap a photo or perhaps swim below America's most relaxing, accessible waterfall. 7 1/2 miles later, you'll see all the commotion! Have your $1 (per person) ready and turn left into the park. My last visit I paid just $5 for the car load (7 people). After you pay at the drive-thru booth, find a parking spot and grab your cameras and towels! Oh, if you arrive by accident and don't have swim suits - no worries! Just do as us country folk do and hit the slide anyway! It's actually advisable to throw on a pair of shorts or blue jeans to save you some potential embarrassment (portions of the "simi-" flat rock have been known to grab at your clothes).
Regardless, I've seen everything from a pair of overhauls to a wedding dress come down the slide. Be forewarned, though. I've also seen a few pair of swim trunks and bikini tops not make the 8-second voyage completely! And, during the late evenings on warm summer nights, I've also heard tell of local folks intentionally doing it "skinny" style! If you don't follow what I'm saying, I understand. It's a country thing.
Don't expect to gain entrance if the water is high or if inclement weather (primarily weather with lightning) is present. If you arrive after 5:30 pm, there are no life guards, nor an entrance fee. Just keep in mind that should you smack your head or drink more water than ordinarily required, you'll have to be serviced by the Brevard Fire Department and medics, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes away. So, always swim and slide safely, as it will be at your own risk.
Oh, and remember, if you are used to hot tubs, spas, heated pools and similar pampered aquatics, Sliding Rock may not be for you. Some swear that if you go down Sliding Rock a man, you may come out a woman!
When you are in the area, there are several ways to get to sliding rock. Essentially, you can come up the mountain from Brevard NC, or across the other side from Waynesville, NC and Canton NC. The park is located along NC Highway 276. Here is a regional map to Sliding Rock NC...
And, here is a closer view of a Sliding Rock NC Map...
Here is a printable for the rules at Sliding Rock.
Operational Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm,
Reservations: No reservations taken
Fees: A daily fee $2 per person. Annual passes remain at $25. Additional revenue is required to operate this extremely popular site, which often receives 1,000 or more people a day. Fee revenue will provide expanded hours for lifeguards and help pay for the maintenance at this highly used site. The last fee increase at this site was in 2014.
Open Season: May26 - Sept 3
Restrictions: No Alcohol or Picnicking Permitted. This area is staffed during season. Open for viewing year-round.
Operated By: US Forest Service
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