Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest, NC: Directions and Guide
Sliding Rock is one of the most popular natural waterslides in Western North Carolina, yet some details of the attraction remain elusive. In fact, even tracking down its exact location in the vast Pisgah National Forest can be difficult! Since there is no official literature on Sliding Rock, one may wonder about hours, parking, admission, and rules. This guide will shed light on everything you need to know for visiting this amazing site.
Winding through the forest-covered mountains, Looking Glass Creek spills into a 60-foot waterfall that families have been enjoying for generations. Years ago, locals would just pull over on the side of the road to visit this secret spot—a gently sloping rock smooth and flat enough to slide down in the rushing water. Many simply referred to this summer cool-off spot as "The Rock."
Alas, times have changed. Sliding Rock is now operated by the US Forest Service, which built railings, restrooms, a parking lot, two viewing decks, and a fee station. The current admission fee is $2.00 per person. Parking is limited to avoid overcrowding.
Sliding Rock Amenities
Sliding Rock is located in the Pisgah National Forest, but does not have a street address to plug into a GPS. The park staff will tell you to travel to the Pizza Hut in Brevard, which is located at the entrance of the forest. The Pizza Hut address may be a little off on your GPS, so you may have to work a little to find it. Once there, follow US-276 into the forest for about 8 miles. The entrance to the falls will be on the left. Several signs guide the way.
Another way to find Sliding Rock is to keep in mind that it is along US-276 between Brevard and Waynesville. This will help if you are traveling on US-276 from the North and will not pass by the Pizza Hut in Brevard. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is 8 miles south down US-276.
The Google map above is accurate, so you can use it to determine directions from your starting point. Cell phone service near the site is spotty, so you may want to print out or write down the driving directions before leaving home.
What to Bring
- Water Shoes
- Denim Shorts
- Waterproof Camera
- Change of Clothes
What Not to Bring:
- Glass Containers
Pets must be on a leash and may not enter the swimming area.
The official season for Sliding Rock is from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 10:30 a.m until 6:00 p.m. Once school starts back up in mid-August, lifeguards are only on duty on weekends until Labor Day. Fees are as follows:
- General admission: $2 per person (children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult)
- Free for children 6 and under
- Season Pass: $25 per vehicle
Groups are allowed, but may not exceed 50 people. There are only four parking spots for buses, so plan accordingly.
The falls will be closed if there is bad weather or if the water level is too high.
Though you can visit Sliding Rock in the offseason, you will be swimming at your own risk and the bathrooms will be closed. The water will also be colder!
- Go on a weekday when it is less crowded.
- Arrive before 11:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m. to avoid the crowds. If the parking lot is full, the park will close the entrance to additional visitors.
- There are cubbyholes for belongings in the restrooms, but they cannot be secured. Most people just place their bags or towels near one of the viewing decks.
- Take care walking on the rocks and the wooden viewing platform at the base of the waterfall, as they get very slippery.
- Some families spend more time, but 1-2 hours is a typical amount of time to enjoy the area.
- There are several picnic sites and viewing spots down the road from Sliding Rock, along US-276.
Experiencing Sliding Rock
This site is for the adventurous! To access the slide, you must walk up a wet rock path to the top of the waterfall. The path has a handrail, but water shoes are helpful. There usually is a lifeguard at the top of the slide to direct you to the starting point. If not, it is easy to follow the lead of the people in front of you.
Though the slide begins as a slight slope, it becomes steep towards the end. The fast-moving water carries you into a very chilly rock-bottomed pool that is 8 feet deep.
Here are some rules to keep in mind:
- You must slide sitting down and facing forward.
- Children 6 and under must ride with an adult.
- Standard life-jackets are allowed, but not any other floatation devices or boards.
- Tight-fitting water shoes are recommended. (Crocs will fall off.)
- Denim shorts are recommended to protect yourself from the sometimes bumpy ride.
If you just want to watch the thrill-seekers slide, there are two observation decks—one at the top of the waterfall and one at the bottom. It is fun to watch the facial expressions as the sliders spill into the cold water. There are often families or groups of teens that ride together like a train. I am sure my last descent triggered a few snickers as I bumped down the wrong lane and coughed up a bunch of cold water!
Near the bottom of the waterfall is a shallow wading area that kids like to play in and around. The bottom floor is covered with slippery rocks and loose stones, so water shoes are a good idea, and small children should be led by the hand.
There are no telephones at the site, but for more information, you may call the Pisgah Ranger Station Visitor Center at (828) 877-3265. If you visit the center, they might even have a few Sliding Rock tee-shirts available, though they usually sell out quickly.
Enjoy your visit!