Break out your old cutoff jeans shorts for this 60-foot natural waterslide just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water pour over a huge, mostly smooth boulder and into a seven-foot plunge pool. If the ride doesn’t take your breath away, the water temperature will. The cool mountain stream that powers this Sliding Rock ride is only about 50 to 60 degrees in summer. Sliders of all ages shriek, grimace, and tiptoe through it but come back for more, even when long lines snake down the entire rock face. Lifeguards supervise in summer, and small kids can ride in an adult’s lap.
What’s Nearby: To see an authentic slice of Appalachia, check out Brevard, which was named one of America’s Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel magazine in 2010. The woods and waterfalls of DuPont State Recreational Forest were the film set for the arena in The Hunger Games.