Sliding Rock, North Carolina

sliding rock best swimming hole north carolina

When that oppressive summer humidity starts to take over every year, many people look for relief in the high country. One of the best ways to find relief from the heat in The Blue Ridge Mountains is to take a dip in a refreshing mountain swimming hole. One swimming hole, in particular, stands out from the rest. Sliding Rock, in Pisgah National Forest, has been a fan favorite for years, and it only takes one visit to realize why tourists and locals alike keep coming back for more.

Pisgah National Forest

Before we dive into the thrilling experience of this popular swimming hole near Asheville, let’s take a closer look at the home of Sliding Rock: Pisgah National Forest.

 

Encompassing over 500,000 acres of pristine wilderness, Pisgah National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting towering forests, cascading waterfalls, and meandering trails that lead to awe-inspiring vistas. It’s a place where people can escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and enter into a sanctuary for wildlife and the natural world.

 

Pisgah National Forest wasn’t always open to public use, however. This coveted land was once owned by wealthy railroad tycoon, George Vanderbilt. When building his country home in Asheville (Biltmore Estate), he wanted to stand on the balcony and rightfully claim, “I own everything the human eye can see.” He attained this dream in his lifetime, but after his passing, his wife Edith, sold approximately 86,700 acres of the land to the federal government in 1914. This monumental sale led Pisgah National Forest to be the first national forest created from privately owned land rather than public domain.

Why Is Sliding Rock So Popular?

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Arguably the most famous swimming hole in Western North Carolina, Sliding Rock is a natural waterslide formed by Looking Glass Creek. This unique geological formation features a smooth, gently sloping rock face that descends 60 feet into an 8-foot pool below. The water, fed by mountain springs, maintains a chilling temperature of about 55 degrees, even during the sweltering summer months.

 

Sliding Rock has gained such popularity due to three reasons:

 

  1. It’s easily accessible off US-276 near Brevard. You’ll find the parking lot to this North Carolina swimming hole directly off the main highway that connects Brevard with the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  2. It’s family friendly. The gentle slope of this natural waterslide allows for people of all ages to enjoy it! 
  3. It’s a unique, interactive activity in the mountains. Very few swimming holes in The Blue Ridge Mountains offer such a thrilling experience as sliding down a natural waterslide!

Tips For Visiting Sliding Rock

It’s important to know what to expect before tossing your bathing suit on and heading out the door to Sliding Rock!

 

  1. Sliding Rock is open and accessible year-round. However, lifeguards are only on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day: 7 days a week from 10AM-6PM
  2. Restrooms are open & available when lifeguards are on duty
  3. There is a $5 per person entrance fee when lifeguards/restrooms are available
  4. Children under 3 are free
  5. Cash & credit cards are accepted
  6. Picnicking and alcohol are strictly prohibited
  7. Children under 7 must slide with an adult
  8. Puddle jumpers & life jackets are the only flotation devices allowed
  9. You must slide on your bottom
  10. Pets are allowed, but must be leashed (but may not slide)
  11. Cell service is limited or non-existent
  12. Expect the parking lot to fill up between the hours of 12PM-4PM
  13. The pool at the bottom is 8-foot deep, so know how to swim
  14. There are observation decks above the waterslide if you want to be a spectator
  15. The fastest slide “route” is closest to the observation deck, the slowest “route” is closest to the handrail that leads you up the rock
  16. Consider wearing an old bathing suit since this is a natural environment. Swimming apparel has been known to shred sliding down the rock
  17. Never swim during a thunderstorm or high water
sliding rock pisgah national forest north carolina

Watch as I do the Polar Plunge at Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Final Thoughts

Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest is one of those mountain experiences that you must try at least once. Whether you’re there for the adrenaline rush or for an afternoon of people watching, Sliding Rock offers something for everyone. Even when lifeguards are on duty, know your limits, swim at your own risk, and leave this natural attraction as beautiful as how you found it!

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