Discover 10 Astounding Waterfalls in North Carolina

Rainbow Falls North Carolina
Patrick Jennings/

Written by Volia Schubiger

Updated: May 28, 2022

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The state of North Carolina is among the most beautiful in the country. Over a million acres of North Carolina are covered in forests and woodlands, from national parks to mountain ranges and waterfalls. There is so much natural beauty to explore, so we created a list of ten of the most breathtaking waterfalls in North Carolina. After reading this, we’re sure you’ll already be planning your next trip to this amazing state.

1. Dry Falls

Dry Falls North Carolina

Dry Falls gets its name from the fact that you can walk behind the spray of the falls and remain dry

Location:Highlands, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Nantahala National Forest
Animals to See:Beaver, Porcupine

At 75 feet, Dry Falls stands tall in the Nantahala National Forest. The unique thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind the cascade of the falls and remain completely dry. A ledge above the waterfall provides a scenic view of the falling water. It is powered by the Cullasaja River

2. Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls North Carolina

Looking Glass Falls is a waterfall on the side of a road

Location:Brevard, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Transylvania Heritage Museum
Animals to See:Whitetailed Deer, Black Bear

Looking Glass Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in North Carolina. After parking, a short walk will take you to a vantage point where you can view the falls. Those with strollers and wheelchairs can access the falls easily. A shallow pool of water is at the bottom of Looking Glass Falls, which reaches a height of 60 feet. By climbing down a few steps, you can easily reach the pool where swimming is allowed. 

3. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls North Carolina

Rainbow Falls offers multiple vantage points from which to view this magnificent waterfall in North Carolina

Location:Brevard, North Carolina 
Nearby Attractions:Gorges State Park
Animals to See:Wild Boar, Coyote

The 150-foot Rainbow Falls is a stunning natural feature in Gorges State Park. Water cascades so powerfully from the Horsepasture River that rainbows are formed on the mists it sprays off. Several of the rocks near the falls are so large that you can have a picnic right there. 

4. Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls North Carolina

Hickory Nut Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River

Location:Rutherford County, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Chimney Rock State Park
Animals to See:Mule Deer, Mountain Bobcat

Chimney Rock State Park is home to Hickory Nut Falls. It is almost impossible to comprehend the sheer height of these falls, at 404 feet tall! The trail that takes you right up to the heart of Hickory Nut Falls will leave you in awe of the natural wonder above. Around the trail, you’ll also find picnic tables, so you’ll have many opportunities to stop and eat as well. You can then take in the beauty of the falls even more.

5. Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls North Carolina

Crabtree Falls gets its name from the crabtree growing at the base

Location:Yancey County, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Roan Mountain
Animals to See:Dark-Eyed Junco, Common Garter Snake

There are no words to describe the beauty of Crabtree Falls, a waterfall in North Carolina. The drop from this waterfall cascades 70 feet directly into a pool below. A variety of wildflowers and lush green trees will surround you along the trail that leads you to the falls. In between the falls, there is a bridge that provides a perfect vantage point for taking pictures.

6. Linville Falls

Linville Falls North Carolina

A great hiking trail for kids and beginners can be found at Linville Falls

Location:Burke County, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
Animals to See:Raccoon, Fox

There is a 90 ft drop straight into the Linville Gorge at Linville Falls. There are two trails you can take from the Linville Falls Visitor Center to reach the waterfall: Erwin’s View Trail and Linville Gorge Trail. Amazing cliffed walls surround the falls, which are surrounded by tall green trees.

7. Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls North Carolina

Whitewater Falls is a multi-tiered waterfall in North Carolina that is worth a visit

Location:Cashiers, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Nantahala National Forest
Animals to See:Porcupine, River Otter

Whitewater Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in North Carolina. This falls drops along a series of tiers and reaches 811 feet in height. If you take the Foothills Trail, you will be able to see all of the green landscape and wildflowers on your way to the Whitewater Falls. After you’re done walking and ready for lunch, there’s a picnic area too. 

8. Catawba Falls

Catawba Falls North Carolina

Catawba Falls is a three-tiered waterfall that is a sight to behold for all visitors

Location:Old Fort, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Pisgah National Forest
Animals to See:American Beaver, Eastern Spotted Skunk

There is one waterfall in North Carolina called Catawba Falls that descends 100 feet into a large rocky pool. It takes less than two miles to reach the falls, and the hike is surrounded by moss-covered trees. While climbing along the boulders at the base of the falls, you can feel the cool mist all around you. 

9. High Shoals Falls

High Shoals Falls North Carolina.

Within the High Shoals Falls pool, there is a small swimming area where you can relax

Location:Connelly Springs, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:South Mountains State Park
Animals to See:Salamander, Frog

Over 60 feet of water cascade down High Shoals Falls, surrounded by lush mossy forests and large boulders. The hike to these falls is about two miles from beginning to end, passing through stunning foliage and natural scenery. In addition to the waterfall, there is an observation deck where you can take some great photos.

10. Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls North Carolina

Large boulders line the edge of Skinny Dip Falls, where visitors can jump into the pool from them

Location:Canton, North Carolina
Nearby Attractions:Blue Ridge Mountains
Animals to See:Peregrine Falcon, Elk

The Skinny Dip Falls is one of the most popular swimming holes and waterfalls in North Carolina. The trail that leads to the falls is just a mile roundtrip, so it makes it easily accessible to those who wish to visit. It is extremely refreshing to swim in the cool, crisp water on a hot day during summer, leaving you feeling absolutely refreshed.

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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