Ohiopyle State Park is one of the best and most popular parks in Pennsylvania. However, unlike many parks, there is no beach or swimming pool to cool off in on a hot day.
Fortunately, though, there are the Natural Waterslides.
Tne Natural Waterslides are located along Meadow Run near its confluence with the Youghiogheny River. In this area of the creek, the waters of Meadow Run have cut a narrow channel through the rock that resembles a waterslide as it twists and turns downstream.
On a hot day, this is a popular spot for both kids and adults to slide down the stream. It’s also, to my knowledge, the only place in a PA State Park that isn’t a swimming pool or beach where you are allowed to swim in the water.
It’s also the most adrenaline-pumping activity you can do in the park other than taking a white water rafting trip. However, whether you are looking to go swimming or simply want to enjoy a beautiful and easy-to-visit spot in Ohiopyle State Park, this is a great area to check out.
Where are the Natural Waterslides in Ohiopyle State Park?
The Natural Waterslides are located about a half-mile south of downtown Ohiopyle. The parking area is located at the intersection of Main Street (Route 381) and Ohiopyle Road, and can be found at the following coordinates: 39.861998, -79.494880.
From this parking area, a wooden staircase leads down the hill and directly to the Natural Waterslides Area.
The parking lot here is fairly large but fills up quickly on weekends and busy summer days. If this lot is full, parking is not allowed on the street. However, there are other parking areas you can go to and walk to the Natural Waterslides.
The largest parking areas would be in downtown Ohiopyle, such as the one near the visitor center and Ohiopyle Falls. You can walk the half-mile along Main Street on sidewalks all the way to the waterslides.
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Another option would be the park at the lot for the Meadow Run Trail at the following coordinates: 39.853630, -79.497436.
Parking here will require a longer hike, but it does let you experience the beauty of Meadow Run above the waterslides. The Cascades, one of the many waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park, is located along this trail and is worth seeing, as well.
If you opt to park in the Meadow Run lot, make sure to take the trailhead near the road (the leftmost trail when facing away from the road) and then turn left when you reach the creek. This will ensure the quickest hike to the Natural Waterslides, though you’ll have to do the longer loop if you want to see the Cascades.
A third option is to park at the lot for Cucumber Falls along Ohiopyle Road at the following coordinates: 39.862871, -79.502529
This lot tends to fill up faster than the parking area at the waterslides, so it’s unlikely to be a good option during busy times. However, the trail that runs from Cucumber Falls, along the Youghiogheny River, and then up to the Natural Waterslides is quite a beautiful hike and worth doing if you have the time.
How to Enjoy the Natural Waterslides
Most visitors to the Natural Waterslides in Ohiopyle State Park come simply to enjoy the natural beauty.
This is, without question, a beautiful spot, and the channel carved by Meadow Run is quite incredible to see in person. It’s also a great spot for photography as the leading lines of the stream look great in images.
If you are going for photography, I recommend getting there first thing in the morning on warm days if you want to photograph the spot without people as it can get quite busy later in the day. If the weather is cooler, you can typically visit at any time without much of a worry about people ruining your shots.
When you do visit, regardless of whether you are sliding or not, make sure to use caution on the rocks. While the dry ones generally have good traction, the rocks here get quite slippery when they are wet.
For those that want to try the Natural Waterslides, head towards the large flat area at the top of the rise, hop in the water, and slide down into the pool roughly 200 feet downstream.
While I’ve never been brave enough to try this, I’ve heard that it’s a bumpy ride, and it’s not uncommon for riders to wind up with scratches and bruises. That being said, most people who do it once seem to climb right back up and do it again, so I’m sure it’s fun, especially for older kids and teenagers.
It’s vital that you don’t attempt to ride the waterslides when water levels are especially high as this can be quite dangerous. However, if water levels are up, you might get lucky and see kayakers testing the waterslides.
On the other hand, if water levels are too low, you might have to push yourself down the waterslides in spots. As a natural attraction, water levels can definitely impact your ability to enjoy this spot.
Overall, whether you are looking for an adrenaline-filled dip in the water, want to visit to watch people slide, or are simply looking for a beautiful spot to relax or enjoy photography, I definitely recommend checking out the Natural Waterslides while in Ohiopyle State Park. This roadside spot is quite easy to visit and is among the park’s most beautiful spots.
Looking for more places to visit in the Laurel Highlands? Check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, and Laurel Caverns.
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