We first saw Sliding Rock in December, a few years ago. The small park, located in mountainous Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, was deserted, not surpisingly. We read signs that the rocks on this 60-foot natural waterslide were open for sliding in warmer weather, and we couldn’t imagine what that was like.
Two weeks ago, on a hot July day, we saw it in action. Yee-haw!
Some 50 kids and adults were lined up alongside the rock to wait their turn to enter the slide one person or small group at a time. They sit down (required, and who would want to stand?!) and let the force of 11,000 gallons of water a minute move them down the granite slabs before depositing them into a wicked cold natural pool about seven feet deep.
It thrills and amazes me that the US Forest Service turned this natural playground into an official recreation area. It seems to have “lawsuit waiting to happen” written all over it. So hooray for them in this era when more than half the nation’s bodies of inland waters are lined with “no swimming” signs. While two lifeguards are on duty and kids can’t go unattended, it still seems pretty extreme for the park service. I’m not usually in favor of raising fees, but I think they could even justify doubling the entrance fee to the park — only $1 a person!
Great access points overlook the action. You can’t help but laugh and smile along with all the adults and children sliding, many of them screaming with joy. We didn’t have swimsuits, but weren’t really tempted, weenies that we are. But watching was a blast. We loved when friends and families would make a train or chain and slide down together, with various stages of success.
The recreation area is open year-round, but the bathrooms and changing rooms are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, also when lifeguards are on duty. I can’t find anything close to an address. From Brevard, NC, travel northwestward on US 276 for about eight miles, or, a few miles before Forest Discovery Center at the Cradle of Forestry center (also worth a stop, but a little pricier at $5 for over 15 years, though free on Tuesday). Pisgah Ranger District can be reached at 828-877-3265.