Mars Hill, NC, May 25, 2018 – Officials with the Pisgah National Forest ask visitors to avoid the Elk River Falls area on the Appalachian Ranger District until further notice.
Since Sunday, May 20, emergency responders have been working to recover the body of a man who drowned in the water at the base of the falls. Recovery efforts have been suspended due to dangerous conditions created by high water levels. Search and rescue teams will resume operations in an effort to find the victim when conditions improve.
Numerous fatalities and serious injuries occur at waterfalls each year. Waterfalls are exciting and rivers are a great place to cool off on a hot day, but both pose risks to unprepared visitors. Be aware of the hazards so you can stay safe.
Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails.
Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it's easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream.
Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep even strong swimmers underwater. Swimming or wading near waterfall plunge pools is dangerous.
Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware that they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.
The best way to enjoy a waterfall is from a safe distance.