Lonely Planet Writer

For a refreshing change why not plunge down a natural rock waterslide in North Carolina

A natural rock waterslide near Asheville, North Carolina is putting all other waterslides to shame. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, Sliding Rock is a 60-foot mountain waterfall that’s been transformed into a summer hotspot, drawing thousands of visitors from all over the country.

 

With 11,000 gallons of water flowing over the well-worn rock each minute, visitors zoom down the natural waterslide and plunge into a seven-foot deep pool at the bottom. Intrepid sliders can go anytime throughout the year, but there are lifeguards on duty starting from the end of May until Labor Day, from 10 am to 6 pm. Summer months are more ideal, too, as the water temperature hovers around a bracing 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, making for a thrilling way to cool down. (Though the slide often lures fearless riders in any weather, including those taking a New Year’s Day polar bear plunge.)

Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest.
Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest. Image by Bill Russ ― VisitNC.com

There are two observation platforms where anyone opting out of the plunge can watch on dry land (and record your ride for social media and posterity), and restrooms are open whenever lifeguards are on duty, when the cost is $2 for all riders and observers over six years old.

Locals weighed in on Sliding Rock’s Facebook page to offer advice to first time riders, including don’t leave valuables in the car, and wear water shoes and shorts — though the waterslide is smooth it’s still rock and an extra layer offers some protection. On peak summer days lines can be long, but move quickly, and to best avoid huge crowds, come early or late.

Situated in western North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, Pisgah National Forest is also home to picturesque waterfalls, hiking and mountain biking trails, and campgrounds.
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