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As part of a summer series, T+L is highlighting amazing lesser-known attractions found in the United States. Next up: a great place to cool off down south.

Leah Shapiro

When temperatures climb, nothing beats plunging into a cold — sometimes really cold — pool. Add the fun of riding down a waterslide carved by eons of natural erosion, and you’ve found a top-notch way to survive the heat. Welcome to Sliding Rock, a North

Carolina secret tucked away on Looking Glass Creek in Pisgah Forest.

It’s only about 10 minutes outside of Brevard, in Western North Carolina, and as Jeff Owenby, the recreation manager of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pisgah Ranger District, notes, the scenic spot is 100 percent au naturel.

“This is a real rock in a real forest with real cold water,” he says. In all, the ride down lasts 20 seconds, and spits out visitors into an eight-foot-deep pool. The experience, Owenby says, “creates a memory that lasts a lifetime.”

And it’s no wonder: 11,000 gallons of water wash over the 60-foot rock every minute, and it’s slippery surface has been enjoyed long before the land was taken over by the Forest Service. Owenby says the slide was part of the property purchased from Edith Vanderbilt in 1916.

Still, anyone who has been to Sliding Rock will tell you: be prepared for long lines. It’s not out of the ordinary for a thousand people to flock to Sliding Rock during peak hours — especially summer weekends and weekdays between noon and 4 p.m.

While the site is open year-round, the entrance may be closed due to road conditions or crowds. If the closure is due to a full parking lot, Owenby advises enjoying another area of the Forest and checking back in later.

When the area is staffed, a $2 admission fee (cash or check only) is charged for entrants seven years and older. (This fee applies to all guests, both sliders and viewers.) The site is staffed every day from late May through mid-August. From late August through late October, it is staffed intermittently. And yes! When the spot is staffed, restrooms are available.

Remember, this is a natural environment. In order to ensure a safe visit, be careful with your footing around the rocks and know how to swim. Children younger than seven must slide with an adult.

While picnicking is prohibited at Sliding Rock, visitors are encouraged to use sites, like the Pink Beds, nearby. Mark File, of RomanticAsheville.com, recommends grabbing a bite at the Cradle of Forestry’s Hobnob Restaurant, just four miles from Sliding Rock.

For more information, visit fs.usda.gov or call (828) 877-3265. From Brevard, take US 64E to US 276. Turn left and follow US 276N for 8 miles. The Sliding Rock entrance is located on left.

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