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Sliding Rock, North Carolina - a Summer Vacation Rite of Passage for Kids

Updated on June 23, 2014
Enjoying Sliding Rock
Enjoying Sliding Rock

Escaping the Heat

Summers are brutally hot and humid in the Deep South. Many families (particularly Floridians) travel to the Appalachian Mountains on a summer vacation to escape the heat and enjoy the scenery. A favorite stop is Sliding Rock in western North Carolina. If you live in the Deep South, ask around - you will be surprised by how many people have experienced it. Most were in their youth. It is practically a rite of passage.

Sliding Rock Viewed with a GoPro

About Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock is a recreation area operated by the US Forest Service in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. It is a granite domed rock in which the Davidson River flows over it. The sliding portion of the rock is about 60 feet long. At the bottom of the slide is a pool about eight feet deep. Sliding the rock is a continuous loop for those wanting to slide down it. You access the top of the rock by a handrail walkway. At the top a Forest Service lifeguard times when you can go down the slide. The ride starts out slow, but builds speed so that you really plunge into the pool at the bottom. Once at the bottom, you must swim to the staircase that provides an exit from the pool. From the staircase you access an observation deck. Leaving the deck you get back on a short trail, cross the river, access the handrail trail, and travel back to the top of the rock. A few things to note include:

  1. You must know how to swim. The plunge pool is over your head. You need to swim about 20 feet to the staircase. There is a lifeguard at the pool.
  2. Surprisingly, the rock is smooth and water flow high enough that you don't get cut or knocked around.
  3. There is an observation deck above the starting point and one at the plunge pool, perfect for taking photos of friends and family going down the slide.
  4. The rocks are slick exiting the pool and also when you cross the small river to access the handrail trail to the top of the slide. Be careful. You can walk the loop barefoot, however, water shoes will give you a better traction.
  5. The water is cold! We were there in mid June. The creek was still high from snowmelt the previous winter and someone told me the water temperature was 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately it was a warm, sunny day so the recovery was quick once out of the water. I would definitely take a towel on a cooler or overcast day.

Facilities and Operation

You can tell the Forest Service wants you to enjoy yourself, but at the same time not make a day of it. Why? They have limited parking and would like to cycle people through. Once the parking lot is full (100 parking places for passenger vehicles, four for buses), the entrance is closed until parking spaces are available as people leave. Hence there is no picnicking or food service of any kind. There are no hiking trails. There are restrooms and changing rooms - although no secured storage.

Hours of operation are 10:30 am until 6:00 pm. The entrance fee is $2.00 per person.

The entrance sign to Slider Rock Recreation Area.
The entrance sign to Slider Rock Recreation Area.

Directions

Sliding Rock is in Transylvania County between the towns of Waynesville and Brevard on Highway 276. It is closer to Brevard - approximately 11 miles ot the northwest. The entrance to the recreation area is well signed. There is no physical address,so you will not be able to locate it using GPS (Garmin, cell phone) equipment.

Map Location of Sliding Rock

Summary

There are a lot of things to do and see in western North Carolina during a summer vacation. If kids are in tow, consider Sliding Rock. Access is easy, the cost is more than reasonable, and it is truly a unique experience on a natural landscape. Be sure to take a camera or cell phone for pictures or video of friends and family going down the slide. It is a fun time, but don't expect to spend the day. Coordinate it with another activity close by. If possible, go on a weekday. Weekends are busier and you might have to wait to get in.

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