Asheville's Ultimate Guide to Summer Water Fun

Tubing on the French Broad River

Asheville is blessed to be protected from the blistering heat that can make other nearby destinations feel uninhabitable during the summertime. But even on those rare days when the temperature rises, Asheville offers many ways to cool off while still enjoying the bounty of the great outdoors.

Here’s a helpful guide for unforgettable summer water fun in Asheville!

French Broad Fun

Stand Up Paddle Boarding French Broad RiverAsheville’s river is one of the oldest in the world. It flows past the Biltmore Estates and River Arts District and offers plenty of go-with-the-flow adventures like tubing, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, and, if you’re up for something new – Bellyaking (a kayak you ride on your belly).

Looking for rental options? Zen Tubing will give you a tube and a shuttle to the put-in, making access and departure a breeze. The seven-mile stretch from Hominy Creek to Pearson Bridge is a popular self-guided float trip. The trip begins at the French Broad River Park. Asheville Adventure Rentals is located there and offers a variety of ways to float this quiet water stretch. You can rent or bring your own tube/canoe/kayak/SUP and pay a small transfer fee.

Wai Mauna SUP Tours offers exciting ways to stand up paddle board on the river with your friends and family. For example, the six-person SUP raft called a "party barge" keeps you together without renting multiple boards. You can take a guided or self-guided tour on a 17-foot board. Wai Mauna also offers sunrise SUP tours.

If you want an exciting whitewater rafting experience, check out the Nantahala Outdoor Center at the Omni Grove Park Inn. They can help you plan a whitewater rafting adventure and provide professional guide services for an unbelievable adventure!

If fishing is more your style, stop by Curtis Wright Outfitters in Weaverville to get the skinny on the best spots on the French Broad to catch smallmouth bass, trout and musky.

Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock

Take water sliding to a whole new level. This 60-foot natural water slide was entertaining long before water slides were standard fare. There’s a $4 per person fee (this goes toward helping to maintain the area and pay the lifeguards). Lifeguards are on duty, and the bathrooms/changing rooms are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pro tip: avoid visiting during peak hours of noon-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

One of the best things about Sliding Rock is that it is just minutes away from dozens of other waterfalls that line Highway 276.

The popular family-friendly Moore Cove Falls Trail is just a mile away and the thundering roadside waterfall Looking Glass Falls is just two miles away.

Take a Dip!

Laurel River

Great swimming holes in the Asheville area are usually gatekept rather ferociously. We’ve given you the inside scoop here, so take advantage!

  • Looking Glass Falls: Just down the road from Sliding Rock, off U.S. 276 heading south off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the base of this 80-foot falls is popular for cooling off and wading. Caution should always be exercised around the falls.
  • Graveyard Fields: A short hike through rhododendrons takes visitors to the lower falls, where giant rock slabs become perfect spots for sunbathing or picnicking. A short distance further, the Yellowstone Prong of the Pigeon River becomes shallow, slow, and lazy, dotted with small gravel islands, making it a cooling spot for even the youngest family members. Parking is located at mile marker 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 40 minutes from Asheville.
  • Carolina Hemlock Campground: Along the South Toe River, you'll find a campground where adults and children can cool off in the chilly water that trickles down from Mt. Mitchell. Large rock slabs, the deepest part of which drops to 14 feet, are ideal for sunbathing or jumping. The river runs along NC 80 North off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Laurel River Trail: Only 10 minutes away from Hot Springs, the Laurel River Trail is the perfect place for an afternoon dip alongside a family-friendly trail that small children can handle
  • Hooker Falls: The popular swimming hole in Dupont State Park is below Hooker Falls, consisting of a wide and gorgeous 12-foot drop.  Below that drop is a swimming hole very popular during the summer. For many visitors and locals, wading in the cool mountain streams is the perfect antidote to a hot day. Access Hooker Falls and several nice streams via the Hooker Falls parking area.
  • Beach at Lake Lure: Float on an inner tube, picnic in the shade, or catch some rays at this beach in the mountains. Enjoy the Water Works with water slides and other soaking-wet fun as you take in the beauty of nearby Lake Lure. 

Please note: It can be dangerous to swim at waterfalls -- please use caution. Never get into the water above a waterfall. See our guide to waterfall safety.

Cool off in Town

SplashvilleAsheville's interactive water fountain, Splashville, is located downtown in Pack Square Park. With arching sprays of water that fly up randomly, this is a perfect way to get soaked and cool off. Let the summer sun dry you off while relaxing on the rolling green field that the park provides. The fountain runs daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the summer and into early fall. Splasheville also closes during inclement weather and some special events and festivals in Pack Square Park.

Five public pools in Buncombe County are open in the summer, including Cane Creek, Erwin, Hominy Valley, North Buncombe, and Owen Pool. Admittance is $3 per day. If you would like more details, please click here.

Here are also some options for hotels with pools:

Click here to find places to stay in Asheville.

Waterfall Wonders

Hiker sitting in front of Silver Run Falls waterfallWith hundreds of beautiful cascades near Asheville, where do you begin? Here’s a quick sampler to get you started.

We recommend Silver Run Falls (seen above) if you want to swim near a waterfall. This popular swimming spot is in the Nantahala National Forest just south of Cashiers, North Carolina. The 25-foot waterfall cascades into a tranquil pool with a small beach area, perfect for families with small children. 


Updated June 28, 2024