Sliding Rock Insider Tips

Watch a video of the fun!

15 Tips for Visits to Sliding Rock, NC

Sliding RockThousands of people visit and slide down Sliding Rock every week each summer in Pisgah National Forest. A favorite for generations, it’s the most popular swimming hole in the North Carolina mountains. The 60-foot waterfall is about 35 miles from Asheville and about 10 miles from Brevard. Visitors of all ages patiently line up and wait their turn to slide and splash into an eight-foot deep pool. Here are some tips for your visit:

  • The chilly mountain water runs 50-60 degrees, so it’s definitely refreshing on a hot summer day!
  • Lifeguards are on duty through September 1, 10 AM-6 PM. Changing rooms and restrooms are open when lifeguards are working.
  • Cost is $2/person when lifeguards are on duty. Children 6 and under are free.
  • The parking area fills up and closes periodically on summer weekends. Avoid peak visiting hours of 11 AM-3 PM on Saturday and Sundays. The parking area also fills up on some July weekdays.
  • Do not slide during high water or thunderstorms.
  • Even if you are not getting into the water, it’s fun to watch from the observation decks.
  • The pool at the bottom of the falls is eight feet deep. So know how to swim!
  • Children under seven years must slide with an adult.
  • Lifejackets are the only flotation device allowed.
  • Blue jean or thick shorts and water shoes are recommended for sliding on the rock slope.
  • Slide in sitting position only.
  • No alcohol is permitted.
  • Pets are allowed at Sliding Rock, but they must be on a leash and cannot slide down the rock.
  • To avoid parking lot congestion, no picnicking here. You’ll see lots of picnic tables roadside and nearby Coontree picnic area.
  • The nearest food service is the café at Cradle of Forestry near Pink Beds (four miles west) or at the edge of Brevard (7.5 miles east).

Directions: Don’t count on GPS. From Asheville take I-26 East to Exit 40 for Highway 280 (Asheville Airport). Take a right onto Highway 280 West and go 16 miles toward Brevard. As you enter Brevard, you will see a big shopping center on the right with Wal-Mart. Just past the center, turn right onto US Highway 276 North (Forest Heritage Scenic Byway) and go  7.6 miles to a parking area on the left. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take US 276 South about 7.5 miles.

For more info, go to

Cool Off in NC Mountain Swimming Holes near Asheville

The western North Carolina mountains near Asheville has some great natural swimming holes that are so refreshing on a hot summer’s day. Here are three of the favorites of readers of Travel Guide:

Sliding Rock NC

Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest has been thrilling kids and adults of all ages for generations and is a summer tradition for many. This 60-foot natural waterslide flows over a smooth rock slope into an eight foot deep pool with chilly mountain water! Through Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty every day and changing rooms are available. While lifeguards are on duty, there is a $2/person admission fee. Other times, you can slide for free. Be sure to have heavy duty shorts since the rock can tear thinner fabric! Nearby is Looking Glass Falls, a must stop waterfall along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. It’s about 38 miles from downtown Asheville on US Highway 276 in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. Read more about Sliding Rock.

Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls is a locals favorite that most drivers on the Blue Ridge Parkway miss. There are no signs for this beautiful setting with multiple cascades and pools deep in the forest. Jump off an overhanging rock into a pool or find a spot to wade or soak in the cool mountain water. From the Looking Glass Rock overlook on the Parkway (Milepost 417), hike a half mile trail from the parking area. It’s about 23 south of Asheville (from the Highway 191 exit on the Parkway). Read more about Skinny Dip Falls.

Deep Creek Tubing

Go tubing on Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. There are several tube rental companies nearby, just outside the park boundaries. Float past a waterfall and through a dense forest. The Deep Creek ride consists of two sections: The upper “whitewater” section for adults and good swimmers flows from Indian Creek with a wild, bouncy ride. The lower section is wider, easier going and more appropriate for all ages.  From downtown Bryson City, take Depot Street east to Deep Creek Road and turn left. Drive 2.3 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance, and then another half mile to the parking area. It’s about 65 miles from Asheville. Read more about Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Enjoy! Remember to be very careful around waterfalls. Do not get in the water above a waterfall or rapid and watch for slippery rocks.

July 4th Fireworks & Events in Asheville & NC Mountains

Asheville 4th of July

Here are the top fourth of July celebration events and places to watch fireworks in Asheville and the western North Carolina mountains in 2014. Get more details on these and more at


Downtown Asheville Independence Day Celebration includes family activities and entertainment in Pack Square Park, starting at 2 PM. The Ultimate Air Dogs will jump throughout the stage at 2, 4, 6 and 7:30 PM. Music entertainment will start at the stage at 4 PM. Kids’ activities are 2-6 PM. The big fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:30 PM.


Tourist Baseball Game ends with fireworks on July 4 & 5 at the games at McCormick Field near downtown Asheville. Get tickets in advance since these games will sell-out ahead of time.


South Asheville Fireworks at Lake Julian starts at dark. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and find a spot along the lake. The park offers picnic tables, grills, a sand volleyball court, two horseshoe pits, boat rental and a playground. Bring a picnic! Park at Estes Elementary School on Long Shoals Road across from the lake. From Asheville take I-26 East to Exit #37. Turn left at the light onto Long Shoals Road.


Downtown Brevard has a big street festival, morning parade and fireworks.


The small village of Montreat near Black Mountain has it’s parade on July 4 at 10:30 AM. Black Mountain will have family fun and fireworks beginning at 7 PM.


Come celebrate the Fourth of July with an old-fashioned watermelon cutting, and view the Black Mountain fireworks display from the peak of Sunset Mountain, presented by the Swannanoa Valley Museum. Hike starts at 6 PM.


Weaverville’s Fire on the Lake Music Festival on July 4, 5:30-10 PM, features food, music and a fireworks show at dusk.


Orchard at Altapass on Blue Ridge Parkway has a covered dish picnic on July 4th, 11:00 AM-4:30 PM. Live music all day is free! Admission for the meal is a dish to share OR $10 per meal.


Cherokee’s Annual 4th of July Fireworks display, located at the Acquoni Expo Center. The festivities kick off on July 4th at dark. Part of the Pow Wow Weekend!


Coon Dog Day in Saluda is July 5th. This celebration of dogs and their people includes live music, parade, crafts, street dance, and more.


Hendersonville has July 4th fireworks display at dark, viewable from downtown Hendersonville, with free live outdoor music 7-9 PM.


In Lake Lure, watch color explode in the sky from the shores or take a ride on a boat for the best seat in the house. Fireworks start at sundown.


Waynesville’s Stars and Stripes daytime celebration runs from 11 AM to 3 PM along Main Street with music and sidewalk sales on July 4. No fireworks in downtown Waynesville, but see them nearby in Maggie Valley and Lake Junaluska.


Maggie Valley’s Red White & Boom is 2-11 PM with fireworks at 10 PM at Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.


Cashiers Mountain Music Festival is June 30 & July 1. Fireworks at dark on July 1 at 9:30 PM.


Franklin’s 4th of July Parade downtown is 10 AM and fireworks are at dark at Macon County Veteran’s Memorial Rec Park.


In Dillsboro, enjoy free play with different games on July 4th – checkers, horseshoes, corn hole and more. Entertainment begins at 5 PM on the main stage at the intersection of Church Street & Front Street. Fireworks begin at dark from Harrison Quarry.


Burnsville has a fireworks show on July 5th followed by Stars on the Square astronomy event with telescopes for viewing stars, constellations, planets and satellites.


Old Fort’s Independence Day Parade begins at 4 PM.


Bryson City’s Freedom Fest is an old fashioned street festival begins at 10 AM with great local music, handcrafted arts, P.A.W.S. dog show, watermelon eating contest and hula hoop off. Fireworks show at 10 PM. Ride the Freedom Train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

See even more 4th of July events for western North Carolina near Asheville at


Top 15 Blue Ridge Parkway Stops near Asheville

craggyHikeThe entire Blue Ridge Parkway is now open for the season! Exploring all the places and things to do along the Parkway in North Carolina could take weeks. Here are our Top 15 Free Parkway Stops near Asheville along a 170-mile stretch of the Parkway, beginning north and traveling south along one of America’s most scenic drives.

Rough Ridge: Milepost 302.8
After a quick 1/3-mile hike uphill from the parking area, you are walking on a mountainside boardwalk with inspiring panoramic mountain views. It’s usually the best place for early fall color.

Linn Cove Viaduct: Milepost 304.4
After driving across the famous bridge that snakes around Grandfather Mountain, stop at the visitor center to read about the construction and hike underneath and above the Viaduct on the Tanawha Trail.

Beacon Heights: Milepost 305.2
A short one-mile roundtrip hike is rewarded with wonderful mountain views from a rock face summit. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic.

Linville Falls: Milepost 316.3
See five viewpoints of the state’s most photographed waterfall from two hiking trails that begin at the visitor center and picnic area.

Orchard at Altapass: Milepost 328.3
This apple orchard turned Appalachian cultural center celebrates the music, crafts, food and natural beauty of the mountains. The Orchard is open May through October.

Crabtree Falls: Milepost 339.5
Take a 2.5-mile woodland hike to the beautiful 70-foot waterfall or have a picnic. In the early summer, the meadows are a showplace of wildflowers.

Mount Mitchell: Milepost 355.4
Drive to the summit of the highest peak east of the Rockies, and walk a short paved trail to the observation deck for panoramic mountain views. This state park is open every day of the year, weather permitting. Take a jacket with you, even in the summer, since it is usually 10-20 degrees cooler than Asheville.

Craggy Gardens: Milepost 364.4
The parking area at the visitor center offers beautiful mountain views from its 5,500 feet elevation. This area is known for its many blooming rhododendron each June. In addition to a picnic area, there are hiking trails including Craggy Pinnacle with unsurpassed 360-degree views.

Folk Art Center: Milepost 382
Enjoy traditional and contemporary fine art exhibitions in their Southern Highland Craft Guild galleries, buy art in the craft shop and home interiors store and watch artist demonstrations. The Folk Art Center in Asheville is open seven days a week year-round.

Parkway Visitor Center: Milepost 384
Learn about the entire 469 miles and history of the Parkway with high-tech interactive exhibits, 22-foot interactive I-Wall map and fascinating film. Also learn about the Blue Ridge Heritage Area.

Mount Pisgah: Milepost 407.6
Hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah, shop for souvenirs in the store and enjoy lunch or dinner with a view at the only restaurant on this section of the Parkway.

Skinny Dip Falls: Milepost 417
Soak in the views of Looking Glass Rock at this overlook before hiking the half mile to Skinny Dip Falls, a beautiful waterfall setting with several cascades. It’s a popular swimming hole on hot summer days for all ages.

Graveyard Fields: Milepost 418.8
This mile-high valley features hiking trails, wildflowers and two waterfalls, surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains with 6,000-foot peaks. Find some of the best fall color along the Parkway. (Closed for repairs until mid July 2014.)

Devil’s Courthouse: Milepost 422.4
Take a steep half-mile hike to the summit of this 5,720-foot peak with a “devilish” look for panoramic views that stretch into four states.

Waterrock Knob: Milepost 451
Stop here for lofty views and a visitor center. Hike to the summit of one of highest peaks (6,292 feet) along the Parkway. The parking area is a local’s favorite spot to watch the sunset over the mountains.

For detailed information and photos on these and many more stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina, visit

Dream Wedding at Biltmore With Boston Marathon Survivors

Biltmore House WeddingOn Friday, April 4, the grand Biltmore House in Asheville was the site of the wedding of Rebekah Gregory and Pete DiMartino, both survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Their wedding was planned by TheKnot, with an assist from the voting public, as part of its 2nd annual Dream Wedding Contest.


Each element of the couple’s Biltmore wedding was voted on, including the location, overall theme, the bride’s dress, bridesmaid dresses, cake, flowers and more. Asheville, the couple’s favorite vacation destination, was announced on Valentine’s Day as the location. Asheville received the most votes over other cities that the couple has ties to, including New York, Boston and Louisville.


The wedding ceremony took place on the Tennis Lawn, adjacent to Biltmore House. The Italian Gardens was the setting for reception. The bride and groom hosted 150 friends and family for the event.


The couple has been profiled on The Today Show and has been featured in several national media outlets including People magazine.


Here’s their story: Rebekah and Pete were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon cheering on Pete’s mother. When the bomb exploded, Rebekah shielded her young son. She has endured 15 surgeries and the fear of the possible amputation of her leg, which she still faces today. Pete lost 90 percent of his right Achilles tendon and suffered multiple broken bones in his ankle. He has undergone surgeries and months of physical therapy. Their shared experience as a result of the explosion and surviving their injuries brought them even closer together and strengthened their relationship.


Thousands of people across the country tuned in to help Rebekah and Pete’s wedding dreams come true. The winning wedding elements were:


• Location: Asheville, N.C. A garden ceremony at Biltmore was chosen for its fairytale setting next to a real-life castle.   

Photos: Allan Zepeda Photography

• Theme: The theme was Enchanted Garden, a vision created by Marcy Blum of Marcy Blum Associates. With green and brown woodland colors, plus whimsical elements like hanging lanterns, this theme is a nod to Biltmore’s gardens.

• Rings: Classically Cool wedding bands were selected: a pave diamond band for Rebekah and a titanium band for Pete, both by Michael C. Fina.

• Bridesmaid Dresses: Rebekah’s girls wore chiffon gowns in falcon, complete with a trendy sweetheart strapless neckline by Watters.

• The Dress: Rebekah wore an ivory fit-and-flare dress with beaded embroidery, a dropped-waist and sweetheart neckline by Sophia Moncelli for Kleinfeld Bridal.

• Flowers: The romantic and playful whimsical woodland centerpiece featured a willow adorned tree trunk base and a secret garden of flowers in shades of pink, plus blooming cherry blossoms designed by Holly Chapple. All flowers were American Grown from the California Cut Flower Commission and will play into the enchanted them with shades of pink, lavender and peach.

• Cake: Cake Alchemy created a multi-tiered confection with delicate white ruffles, buttons and peony sugar flowers to match the garden theme.

• Hair & Makeup: Rebekah traveled to NYC for a hair and makeup trial with Alli Web, founder of Drybar and Kate Turner from Too Faced.

For info on Biltmore and Asheville wedding locations, go to Top Wedding Venues.

Wedding at Biltmore House

Mother Earth News Fair Comes to Asheville

Mother Earth News FairThe Mother Earth News Fair makes its Southeastern debut at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Asheville on April 12 & 13, 2014, with workshops, demonstrations and vendors covering the gamut of sustainable living. The fair began in 2010 as a way to bring Mother Earth News magazine, the country’s largest and longest-running publication on sustainable living, to life. Go to more than 200 hands-on workshops and demonstrations from experts on preparing and preserving food, organic gardening, homesteading, renewable energy, green building and remodeling, small-scale livestock, green transportation, natural health, and related topics. See 300 artisans and vendors with goods ranging from locally made crafts and foods to solar energy systems and outdoor power equipment. Also enjoy livestock and craft demonstrations,  artisan food tastings and local and organic food offerings.

Select keynote speakers include Sylvia Bernstein, aquaponics expert; Sherri Brooks Vinton, food preservation expert; Jere Gettle, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds founder; Sandor Katz, fermented foods ‘revivalist’; Joel Salatin, organic farmer, author and owner of Polyface Farms; and Stephanie Tourles, herbalist and licensed holistic aesthetician.

The fair hosts several off-stage demonstrations including:

  • logging with horses and constructing a tiny home (Booth 6505, stall F-40, south arena)
  • herding with dogs (show arena; ongoing)
  • blacksmithing, broom making, weaving, spinning and dyeing, and chair making (Booth 6024, ongoing)
  • carding and spinning wool (Stalls F-6 and F-7; ongoing)
  • creating fun, healthy meals even picky eaters will love (Booth 1800; ongoing)
  • companion planting from seed (Booths 1200 and 1300; Noon to 1 p.m.; ongoing for informal advice)
  • making mead (Booths 1400 and 1500; ongoing)
  • goat milking (Stall F-12; 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily)
  • growing and using herbs, and saving herb seeds (Booths 7010-7015; ongoing)
  • building solar panels and LED grow lights (Booths 1400 and 1500; ongoing)
  • throwing and hand-building pottery (Booth 5138; ongoing)
  • traditional broom making (Booths 5033 and 5034; ongoing)
  • making healthy, herbal no-bake cookies (Booth 2712; ongoing)

Saturday, April 12: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 13: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road Fletcher, NC 28732
Weekend pass – Pre-ordered: $25 / At the gate: $30
Single-day pass – Pre-ordered: $20 / At the gate: $25
Children 17 and under get in FREE

Tickets are available: Online, by calling 800-234-3368, and at the gate. Read more about the WNC Agricultural Center.

Best Waterfalls Near Asheville

Crabtree FallsAsheville and western North Carolina have hundreds of waterfalls, many of which are easily accessible year-round. Enjoy cascades framed by colorful foliage in the fall, wade in cool base pools during spring and summer months, and get unobstructed views of often-hidden areas of the falls in the winter.

Here are 20 of our favorite waterfalls to enjoy in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains:

High Falls & Triple Falls: A three-mile easy hike takes you to the base of three waterfalls in DuPont State Forest. High Falls is a powerful 150-foot drop and Triple Falls was a film location for The Hunger Games. Nearby is Hooker Falls.

Looking Glass Falls: You don’t have to get out of your car to see this 60-foot waterfall, located on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway between Brevard and Blue Ridge Parkway. There are many other waterfalls in this section of Pisgah National Forest.

Daniel Ridge Falls (near Looking Glass Falls) is a 150-foot cascade along a tranquil hiking trail.

Sliding Rock: In the summer months, slide down this 60-foot cool cascade in the Pisgah National Forest. During cooler weather, enjoy the setting from viewing decks.

Linville Falls: The most photographed waterfall in North Carolina is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a moderate 1.6-mile hike with four overlooks to enjoy a variety of views of the falls and Linville Gorge.

Dry Falls: Located near Highlands, this 75-foot waterfall allows the rare treat of walking safely behind it. Nearby, drive behind Bridal Veil Falls.

Graveyard Fields: The highland meadow on the Blue Ridge Parkway features trails to two waterfalls. Second Falls is just 1/3 of a mile from the parking area.

Rainbow Falls: This 150-foot waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest is accessed by a hiking trail in Gorges State Park. Slide and swim at nearby Turtleback Falls.

Crabtree Falls: This beautiful 70-foot waterfall, near Linville Falls, is along a 2.5-mile loop woodland hiking trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Upper Whitewater Falls: The highest waterfall east of the Rockies plunges 411 feet and is easily viewed via a short paved trail.

Skinny Dip Falls: This refreshing swimming hole on the Blue Ridge Parkway has several cascades, perfect for a hot summer day dip.

Pearson’s Falls: This 90-foot waterfall in a beautiful glen is located between Saluda and Tryon. It’s a must stop if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina.

Soco Falls: This spectacular twin waterfall is easy to miss. Located along busy Highway 19 between Maggie Valley and Cherokee, there are no signs for the small parking area. A short walk takes you to an observation deck.

Deep Creek Waterfalls: See three waterfalls (Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a beautiful hike near Bryson City. A great spot for tubing!

Mingo Falls: Located near Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains, this 200-foot waterfall is a short walk from the parking area.

Catawba Falls: Located just three miles from I-40 near Old Fort. Hike 1.5 miles to the lower falls, a 100-foot cascade with best views in the winter since leaves hide the top of the falls.

For detail guides with photos and videos for these and other waterfalls, along with a scenic drives, see our Top 50 Asheville Waterfalls.