Sliding Rock Falls is one of those few waterfalls where you are absolutely invited to cool off during the hot summer days. I have been to Sliding Rock Falls several times but have never wanted to slide down the 60-foot cascade into a 6-foot deep pool of ice-cold water. Why? Too many people for my liking. Despite having a parking lot, the road also fills up with would-be sliders. Beware of this highly populated area! Tourists tend to park anywhere they find room, even if it’s not off the road completely. I’ve made return trips from the Blue Ridge Parkway, along US 276, only to be forced to wait for visitors to get out of the way! Pay attention and be aware of others around you.
The water is cold in summer, but extremely refreshing, which is why it’s so popular. I find more solace in visiting Sliding Rock after hours or in the winter months. There is a minimal cost involved at Sliding Rock, for both sliders and observers alike. A few years back, the cost was determined by vehicle, but now it’s on a per-person basis. Don’t worry though – the cost is $3/person, which is an affordable way to beat the heat.
Best advice, always, is to visit Sliding Rock as early as possible to avoid the crowds. There will be times when Sliding Rock is closed due to heavy rains or high water. Call the Pisgah Ranger Station & Visitor Center (828.877.3265) to check the status of any waterfall or hiking path within the National Forest.
From a photography perspective, I like to visit Sliding Rock in the fall to capture the colorful display that takes place. Sliding Rock Falls is open 365 days a year, but only staffed with lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Beyond Labor Day, Sliding Rock is staffed only in weekends through the end of October. I tend to visit during the week in October, and in the winter months as well.
There are tons of pictures of people sliding down this natural water slide, but my preference is to photograph the area when no one is around. Call me crazy, but when I’m there enjoying the peaceful surroundings of such a highly popular place, I can almost hear the carefree voices of those who enjoy splashing in a forest watering hole.