Falls – Dry Falls – Waterfalls… One of the most popular things to do here in our little corner of the mountains is to visit some of the many spectacular nearby waterfalls that can be found in our region.
Dry Falls – Have you ever had the adventure of walking behind a big waterfall? Have you ever had your voice drowned out by the roar of millions of gallons of water rushing by an arm’s length away from you? Head on over to Dry Falls just outside of Highlands and experience it for yourself. At 75 feet tall, Dry Falls belies its name—it’s a huge cascade that runs year-round that flows over an overhanging bluff as the Cullasaja River drops elevation in the Cullasaja Gorge. The Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest and Dry Falls is part of a series of waterfalls on an 8.7-mile (14 km) stretch of the river that eventually ends with Cullasaja Falls. When the water flow is low, you can walk behind the falls without getting wet, hence the name. But in wet rainy periods, the falls is at its most spectacular – if you go, be sure to bring a slicker or waterproof jacket as you’re sure to get a little wet in the mist and splashing of the falls.
In the narrow and deep Cullasaja Gorge, the Cullasaja River rushes and drops in a series of cascades and waterfalls to the Tennessee River near Franklin. A two-lane highway called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, the combined route of U.S. 64 and NC 28, runs through the Cullasaja Gorge, which is mostly protected as part of the Nantahala National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has designated this to be a National Scenic Byway because of the river, and its numerous waterfalls. The highway clings to the north bank of the Cullasaja River. Though the road is narrow and the curves are frequent and sharp, it can be a fun and beautiful drive. There are many places to pull off, get out and enjoy the views of the river.
Dry Falls is easy to get to, heading east on Highway 64 towards Highlands, NC. The parking area is right off the road (with bathrooms) with parking for several dozen cars, but note that at the height of summer and on weekends parking may be tight. To get to the falls, follow the path and then go down the series of steps to the walk-behind of the falls. Be sure to walk behind the falls and over to the end of the path for yet another fantastic view and photo opportunity of these magnificent falls.
After the falls, continue east on Highway 64/Mountain Waters Scenic Byway for several miles and you’ll get to the mountain town of Highlands, NC. Highlands is a great place to stop for lunch and get in a little shopping before continuing your waterfall adventure. Be sure to check out a couple of other waterfalls in the area: Bridal Veil Falls (video below), Glen Falls and Secret Falls.