Guide to Visiting Sliding Rock Falls in North Carolina

Sliding Rock is set in North Carolina, nestled within the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot beautiful waterfall in NC that flows along a flat boulder forming one of the best wild water slides in the entire country.

Approximately 11,000 gallons of water rush over these rocks every minute. It has become a beloved attraction in the hot Southern summer months, with visitors lining up for their chance to cruise downstream in the 50-to-60-degree river. 

It ends with a splash into an eight feet deep pool of clear, cool waters. You’ll find a few rocks nearby to lounge on and watch the action with a beautiful backdrop. There are observation decks as well if you prefer to stay dry and cheer on some of the other sliders. Lifeguards are even on duty to ensure everyone’s safety during the high season. It’s a one-of-a-kind thrill ride for all the waterfall and adrenaline enthusiasts alike and one of the best places to visit in North Carolina!


Where is Sliding Rock

These coveted cascades can be found in the heart of the natural wonderland called Pisgah National Forest. Near both the popular outdoor adventure towns of Brevard and Asheville, Sliding Rock is easily accessible as a day trip from either. Sliding Rock is only eight miles from Brevard, aptly known as the land of waterfalls. It boasts a quaint downtown and super-scenic surroundings to explore. 

Asheville is under an hour’s drive away and is often touted as a cultural haven of the high country, full of craft breweries, cool attractions, and eco-friendly pastimes. To find Sliding Rock, remember that GPS isn’t always reliable in these remote ends. Be sure to take down how to get to US-276 and then follow it along until you reach the marked recreation parking area. 


Sliding Rock Hours and Admission

Sliding Rock is open all year-round during daylight hours from 10:00 to 20:00 for visitors hoping to bask in its beauty. It really should only be used for sliding in season, which is from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September. This is when all the lifeguards are on duty, as well as through the weekends until November. Otherwise, the facilities are all closed and it’s deemed an “enjoy at your own risk” attraction. 

Most of the crowds seem to flock on the weekends in the summer between noon and 16:00, so keep this in mind if you’re trying to avoid a long line. During these busy periods, it can often reach capacity, so you may even need to wait to get in.

It costs exactly $4.00 to enter in the high seasons and is free in the offseason. Be aware that it can close depending on weather conditions such as thunderstorms or especially high waters. There aren’t any reservations or advance tickets available, so just show up and try your luck. 


Parking Information

The designated parking lot can fill up quite quickly during peak hours. Often people who park on the side of the road outside of it will get ticketed, and as such we don’t recommend the risk. The best way to avoid this scenario is to not arrive during the most popular times mentioned and have a backup plan nearby to try in the meantime – there are plenty of waterfalls in Asheville to enjoy!

It can be especially limited for larger vehicles like buses or RVs. It’s only a short easy walk from the parking area to the falls themselves. There is a clear sign right at the entrance so it shouldn’t be hard to find. 


Where to Eat at Sliding Rock

The closest dining destination is the cute cafe at the Cradle of Forestry. It’s a mere four miles away and offers delicious local bites, such as soups and sandwiches. It’s part of a historic heritage site that was actually the very first forestry school in America in 1898 and is super fun to explore in its own right. However, Brevard is an extremely easy journey from the falls and provides a whole host of adorable eateries to try. 

Enjoy chowing down at Rocky’s Grill and Soda, a charming old-fashioned diner joint chock full of nostalgic American curb appeal. The Square Root is another hidden gem of this tiny town, serving up fresh eclectic eats from around the world in a chic refurbished historic space.

While we always love the options of packing your own snacks to scarf down in a delightful natural setting, picnicking is unfortunately not allowed at Sliding Rock to avoid even more overcrowding. However, the Pink Beds nearby are a spectacular alternative. Only four miles away, it’s a lovely woodland hiking spot. You’ll also see a few picnic tables alongside US 276 as well. Always remember to pick up after yourself and Leave No Trace.


Facilities to Use at Sliding Rock

There are both changing rooms and restrooms to use on-site at Sliding Rock. However, do be aware that they’re only open when the attraction is staffed with lifeguards. Otherwise, if you go during the offseason, you’re on your own. There are two observation decks to enjoy all the sites without having to get soaking wet yourself. 

Life jackets are allowed, though it’s really required that you know how to swim based on the depth of the pool at the end, people have died here so be careful.

In addition, anyone under seven years old must slide down with an adult. We also advise you to wear shorts you don’t love and shoes, as the rocks themselves can be a bit rough to slide down. Pets are allowed if they stay on the leash (they may not slide down Sliding Rock), but no alcohol is permitted inside the grounds. Be sure to bring lots of water to stay hydrated in that strong Carolina sunshine and to always slide down sitting up. 


Destination Hikes in the Area

Looking Glass Falls

Lucky for all our adventure lovers out there, Sliding Rock is surrounded by an array of other awe-inspiring natural attractions to visit. Only five minutes away lies the lovely Looking Glass Falls. It’s a fan favorite waterfall of the state, and it’s easy to see why. Set right on the roadside it’s super accessible and simple to see. The captivating cascades are 60-feet tall, flowing out over granite cliffs into a large basin that’s ideal for a refreshing dip. 

Looking Glass Rock is close by and named for the special effect it takes on in the winter when the towering boulder is covered in ice and resembles an impressive shimmering mirror. It’s one of the more strenuous trails in the park, climbing a staggering 1,700 feet in elevation in only three miles. There are plenty of switchbacks that help to make the trek a bit more manageable. The sweeping panoramas from the top are always well worth the effort. 

Moore Cove Falls is a hidden gem of a hike. Its claim to fame is that it’s one of the few waterfalls that you can actually walk behind. The trail is 1.5 miles round trip and is easy for any skill level. You’ll meander through lush hardwood forest, over babbling creeks, and among the rhododendrons for an all-around enjoyable outing. Our advice is to visit after a large rainfall for a particularly idyllic scene. It’s also enchanting as a winter trek when intricate ice formations cover the rock face. 

John Rock is only ten minutes from Sliding Rock and offers some of the most stunning views in the area. It’s a five-mile loop with a majestic smooth rock summit at over 3,000 feet above sea level. You’ll find Cedar Rock Falls along the way, a 20-foot waterfall, as well as scenic fields of wildflowers. We especially love this spot for wildlife watching. It’s a moderate level of difficulty due to the elevation gain of the hike. 

Black Balsam Knob is a bit farther at about 30 minutes away and one of the best hikes near Asheville. It’s home to some of the most stunning mountain balds in the state. These treeless summits draw adventurers from all over with their unique and alpine-like allure. Stretching tall at 6,000 feet high, Black Balsam Knob has several trail options to trek of varying lengths and difficulties, such as the Art Loeb Trail or the Sea to Mountains Trail. 

Graveyard Fields is a highly coveted hike for exploring all the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer. It derives its unique name from the fields of tree stumps it once sported, caused by both fires and strong winds and resembling gravestones. The 3.5-mile loop boasts two waterfalls and verdant vistas as far as the eye can see. It also acts as a popular swimming hole in the summer months. 

Devil’s Courthouse is not a long trek but can be super strenuous. The trail is only half a mile and is made of mostly paved path, but the journey to the peak is seriously steep. Subsequently, the panorama is unparalleled. The apparent devilish appearance of its cave has made it the subject of much local folklore, only adding to its intrigue. There is an abundance of rare high-altitude plants thriving here, and it’s also a nesting site for the very special Peregrine Falcon. 


Things to Do Near Sliding Rock Falls

The Blue Ridge Parkway is commonly called America’s favorite drive, and a quick cruise down this stretch of highway is well worth your time when in the area. It offers supremely stunning sights all year round, but if you happen to venture out during fall in North Carolina get ready for the leaf-peeping sojourn of a lifetime.

It’s 469 miles long with two lanes and a sleepy speed limit of 45 mph, which really lets you soak up the spectacular scenery. Breathtaking beauty awaits along this road with plenty of pretty stops to make such as the Linn Cove Viaduct and the Craggy Gardens. The milepost system makes it super easy to navigate. This is one of the most picturesque drives in the entire country. 

There are several sweet little gem mines near Sliding Rock that make such a fun stop. Pisgah Forest Gem Mine is in the charming hamlet of Hendersonville. It offers over 60 feet of indoor mining space to dig for rubies, sapphires, amethysts, geodes, and more. The black light mining here is one of the most special experiences around. What a way to search for glowing gems and minerals!

Crystal Mountain Gem Mine is in the heart of Brevard and has emeralds, sapphires, and rubies hiding in their buckets, which come in any size you wish. Sift through the long water flume to find the gems of your dreams. Check out their cool fossil shop on site as well. 

Mountain Climbing opportunities near Sliding Rock abound. Looking Glass is a popular pick for climbers of many skill levels. You’ll find established multi-pitch routes such as the Nose and Odyssey, along with plenty of grade IV and V lines that lie along the exposed granite craggy dome. There are options for quick boulder trips or all-day climbs. Laurel Knob is another choice renowned throughout the southeast. It offers advanced climbing in a remote area. Cedar Rock has a wide range of routes to try on both the north and south sides. Whiteside Mountain is one of the most challenging sites for climbing in the region. It’s known for long routes, exposure, and variable weather conditions. 

It’s no surprise that Pisgah National Forest is one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the area. With boundless wilderness, a wide range of terrains, and over 100 miles of trails, it’s a stellar place to get your cycle on. Of the divided districts within, the Pisgah Ranger one is the most well-known for riding. Some of the top-notch trails to try here near Sliding Rock are Bent Creek, Kitsuma, Avery Creek, Laurel Mountain, and Daniel Ridge. They range from easy to advanced at varying lengths as well. It’s often easy to connect several trails together if you’re hoping for a more epic biking experience. 

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and six continents. After, six years of international travel they settled down and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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