For millions of years, the chilly springs and pristine waters of Brevard and Transylvania County have run through the rocks and carved out spectacular waterfalls thanks to the Blue Ridge Escarpment, temperate climate and surrounding lush mountain forests. Each year, visitors come from all over the world to admire the plunges, the mists, and the rainbows that emerge when the sun hits the splashing spray.
With thousands of acres of forests and 250 waterfalls, Brevard and Transylvania County have long been a destination for travelers seeking adventure and natural beauty. But awe-inspiring as waterfalls may be, they can also be dangerous, especially when visitors don’t follow safety protocols.
That’s why Transylvania Always, a local initiative funded and coordinated by Transylvania County Tourism (TCT), is rolling out an all new waterfall safety campaign with updated messaging and educational opportunities ahead of the busy summer season. The new campaign encourages visitors and locals alike to Be Waterfall Wise so that they may safely enjoy Transylvania County’s magnificent waterfalls.
The origins of a local waterfall safety effort go back to a meeting at the end of 2016 between board and staff from TCT and public land managers from Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest, and Gorges State Park. Following a busy year, TCT simply asked the public land managers “how can we help.” Death and serious injury at our many waterfalls quickly rose to the top as a common, and important, issue. Local safety officials, emergency services, and others were added to the conversation and by spring of 2017, the original Waterfall Safety Campaign was born.
In addition to sharing all-important tips for waterfall safety, the new Be Waterfall Wise initiative employs a range of engaging communications. The safety campaign includes targeted social media messaging and an educational series that includes live social media events featuring local experts along with Heather Friesen, the waterfall safety advocate, whose terrifying fall from a Hawaiian waterfall was captured on video. Additionally, a “Safe Selfie” campaign offers information on how to photograph yourself safely near a waterfall; and a special hashtag, #waterfallwise, was created to help the safety messaging go viral.
"Educating visitors and other users of our public lands is very important to us,” says TCT Executive Director Clark Lovelace. “Our primary focus is on appropriate behavior to allow safe use and to ensure that our incredible natural assets are here for future generations. In the case of our push for users to Be Waterfall Wise, it's more than just an important message. It's a matter of life or death."
Transylvania County Tourism encourages all users to follow these straightforward Waterfall Safety Tips:
all posted signs leading to waterfall areas.
on marked trails and observation areas.
jump off waterfalls or dive into pools.
climb on rocks above waist height.
swim or wade upstream near a waterfall.
for slick rocks around waterfalls.
your children and pets at all times.
Waterfall safety is just one of the focuses of Transylvania Always, a TCT initiative with a mission to take care of Transylvania’s natural recreational assets by creating a safe and enjoyable user experience and to ensure that these resources are here for future generations. This innovative program has engaged visitors and locals alike in protecting the fragile natural resources of Transylvania County and similar treasured areas across our state and nation. In addition to funding numerous sustainability projects, Transylvania Always recently created the Leave It Better
campaign focused on appropriate behavior in our public lands.
For more information visit www.waterfallsafety.com.