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America's Best Swimming Holes

Sliding Rock, North Carolina

George and Monserrate Schwartz/Alamy

Sliding Rock, Brevard, NC

Think of this angled rock face as nature’s original waterslide. Smoothed by centuries of flowing water, the 60-foot boulder shoots bathers into the frigid Carolina mountain waters like they have buttered backsides. The well-known playground off Highway 276 in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest attracts everyone from local teenagers and young families to Blue Ridge Parkway road-trippers who line up to slide one-by-one into the cool 50-degree stream from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In the height of summer, lifeguards supervise the action. A word to the wise: smooth doesn’t mean perfectly flat. It is a rock, after all. Throw on an old pair of shorts to keep from snagging your swimsuit.

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