Sliding Rock is a natural water slide located along Looking Glass Creek in the Pisgah National Forest, south of the Blue Ridge Parkway along US Highway 276 (which joins US highway 64 further down in Brevard). Not far from camp, taking a trip there has over the years become a Rockbrook tradition of sorts. On cabin day, which is a day when we suspend the individual activity schedule for everyone so we can spend time together as cabin groups, we often take an entire age group to Sliding Rock.
Tonight it was the Middlers’ chance to take a ride down the rock. After a fun cookout of hotdogs, homemade coleslaw, potato chips and fruit, we arrived at Sliding Rock past when it had officially closed to the public. This is our routine, and our preference. (And the Forest Service approves!) We can provide our own lifeguards, counselors to help the campers settle into the water at the top of the rock, and set a good “Rockbrook Vibe” when we have the place to ourselves.
The Sliding Rock Recreation Area is about 60-feet of smooth granite that slopes gently downward. As the creek water washes over it, small pockets of whitewater form around bumps and indentations in the rock. At the bottom there is a pool of water about 6 or 8 feet deep, plenty deep enough to go under water, but not so large that it’s difficult for the girls to swim through.
Take a look at these photos (you can click them to bring up a larger version). Wearing their water shoes, the girls first cross the water below the pool and head up the right side of the rock to the top. This is their first exposure to the temperature of the water, which can be politely described as “refreshing” like all the mountain streams in this part of North Carolina. It’s chilly, but compared to the heat of the day, it feels fantastic.
The real shock happens when the girls sit down in the water at the top of the rock and they feel it splashing on their backs. That’s when eyes widen and mouths open to let out wild screams. The water pushes, and soon they are accelerating down the rock heading to the splash landing below. We encourage the girls to slide in pairs, adding to the fun. There’s no ideal size for a person to slide. As the girls twist, spin and sometimes topple down the rock for several seconds they scream even more, squint, and hold their noses at the last second. It’s so thrilling, and so much fun, they are quick to zip around and slide again. The awesome RBC lifeguards are ready to help the girls exit the pool below, keeping everyone safe. After a rain when there is high water, the sliding is faster, but also trickier at the start.
Meanwhile, the girls who are watching the action, either waiting for their next turn to slide or from one of the two observation platforms, are cheering on their friends, singing camp songs and laughing at the craziness of the sliding.
It’s amazing to see how something this simple can be this much fun. Sliding Rock is one of those timeless mountain camp experiences in North Carolina that just can’t be recreated anywhere else. It’s really ideal, and the girls absolutely love it.