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The 8 Most Stunning Waterfalls in North Carolina

Lace up your hiking boots, and maybe your swim trunks, for these NC beauties

By Emily Handy on July 25, 2016

Skinny Dip Falls
Canton / Courtesy of Benson Schliesser under a CC 2.0 license.

North Carolina’s diverse landscape ranges from mountains to beaches, but perhaps its best feature is its stunning waterfalls. The waterfalls in North Carolina have some of the best (and most literal) waterfall names ever. Bust Your Butt Falls, here we come!

Whitewater Falls
Cashiers / Courtesy of Fred Dunn under a CC 2.0 license.

1. Whitewater Falls

Known as the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, Whitewater Falls is located just 60 miles from downtown Asheville. Its Upper Falls cascade down a whopping 411 feet and are accessed by a paved walkway in North Carolina, while its 400-foot-high Lower Falls are accessed from South Carolina. Knock out two states and two giant waterfalls in one day!

2. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is aptly named because on most sunny days, you’ll be able to see a pretty killer rainbow in its mist. Another unique feature? Visitors can get awesome 360-degree views of the 150-feet-tall falls, including the rare top view. And, if you still want more falls action, you can go upriver about 1/3 of a mile and hang out in Turtleback Falls’ swimming hole. 

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3. Dry Falls

Dry Falls is anything but dry, but the name comes from the fact that visitors can walk behind the waterfall without getting (completely) drenched. At the end of a short, paved trail, there’s usually a thick mist on the path behind the falls, so wear your raincoat! Plus, like Rainbow Falls, if you get particularly lucky you may see a rainbow at the bottom. 

Crabtree Falls
North Carolina / Courtesy of BlueRidgeKitties under a CC 2.0 license.

4. Crabtree Falls

Located just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls is a delicate-looking, but powerful waterfall cascading down a 70-foot rock face. In the spring, visitors pull off mile marker 339.5 and make the 2.5-mile hike down to the falls to also get a glimpse at an impressive array of wildflowers. 

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5. Soco Falls

At Soco Falls, you get two waterfalls for the price of one. The falls are located at the very edge of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and the Soco Gap was once used by the Cherokee as a passageway to their land in the 1700s. For best viewing results, try visiting the falls in the winter when no tree leaves block the views of the smaller falls on the left. 

6. Looking Glass Falls 

Looking Glass Falls is one of North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls due to its short distance from the road and kid-friendly swimming hole at the bottom. The beautiful, 60-foot falls are also a happening spot for waterfall photographers, as the sun rises right over the falls in the morning. 

Skinny Dip Falls
Canton / Courtesy of Benson Schliesser under a CC 2.0 license.

7. Skinny Dip Falls 

What Skinny Dip Falls lacks in height and mightiness, it makes up for with its swimming appeal. We know it’s a bummer, but we recommend you wear at least a swimsuit to swim at the bottom of these falls (unless you really want to bare it all). Visitors can jump off the rocks into the deep pool or just hang out in the crisp mountain water. 

8. Bust Your Butt Falls

We told you waterfalls in North Carolina have some literal names! Bust Your Butt Falls is a favorite summer hangout for locals to hangout in the deep pool at the bottom of the cascading falls. Those who have a more adventurous streak in them can opt to climb up the steep rock face via a rope and jump in at their own risk. If you’re not up for that, don’t worry, there’s plenty of rocks to catch some rays. 

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