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Dry Falls Waterfall near Highlands, NC

Also See: Waterfall Guide |Waterfall Drives & Maps | More Highlands Waterfalls | Nantahala National Forest | Asheville Hiking | Whiteside Mountain Hike | Highlands | Cashiers | Wayah Bald Lookout Tower | Franklin
Dry Falls, NC
Walk safely behind Dry Falls!
Click image once to watch a video of Dry Falls. See more of our YouTube Asheville videos.

Dry Falls, a popular waterfall located a few miles outside of Highlands, North Carolina, gives you the rare treat of walking safely behind a waterfall. This 75-foot tall waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest flows over an overhanging cliff, allowing you to walk behind the falls and stay dry (hence the name). During rainy spells when the water volume is higher, the spray will prevent you from staying totally dry.

Located roadside on US Highway 64, everyone can enjoy the view from a fully accessible observation area adjacent to the parking area. It's a short walk down the trail to reach the falls. It's approximately 80 miles from Asheville.

Dry Falls NCDry Falls
A u-shape trail leads you behind the waterfall and to the other side.

While the view is nice from the new observation deck, the real treat is getting a closer look by climbing down the stairs and short path. The path is often wet after a rainy period. There are many great vantage points along the way for photos. You may be able to see a rainbow if you and the sun are in the right position. The spray from the falls may get you wet when you walk behind it, so have somewhere to hide your camera or anything you don't want to get wet. But it’s usually just a little mist.

Dry Falls, North Carolina Waterfall

Dry Falls

Bridal Veil Falls
Drive behind nearby Bridal Veil Falls

Dry Falls flows on the Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest. It is part of a series of waterfalls on a 8.7-mile (14 km) stretch of the river that eventually ends with Cullasaja Falls. The Cullasaja Gorge presents one with the impression that it was cleaved in a moment of anger. Narrow and deep, 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, which is 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 as though it knew what would happen if it let go. 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.

Less than a mile away from Dry Falls is Bridal Veil Falls. Also nearby are Quarry Falls (Bust-Yer-Butt Falls) and Cullasaja Falls. Read more about these in our Highlands & Cashiers Waterfalls Guide. Not too far away is Whitewater Falls (the tallest in eastern America) and Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park. And for more waterfalls in the Asheville area, see our Waterfalls Guide.


Dry Falls NCDirections: Coming from Highlands, take Hwy 64 west for just over 3 miles from it's intersection with Hwy 106. Pass or stop at Bridal Veil Falls, then look for a brown and white forest service sign for Dry Falls and turn left into the parking area. If you miss the 1st turn into the parking area, you can take the next one on the left. If you are coming from Franklin, Dry Falls is about 16.5 miles east on U.S. Hwy 64.

From Asheville: Take I-40 West to route 23/74 W towards Waynesville. Take 23/74W to 23/441 towards Dillsboro, Sylva and Franklin. At Franklin stay on the by-pass and take U.S. Highway 64 East toward Highlands. 82 miles, 1.5 hour drive.

Download a map & brochure of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.

Download a PDF map of Nantahala National Forest.

(Fall peak color in this area is usually the second week of October. See more on our Fall Foliage Guide.)


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Writing & Photography By Mark File - ©2003-2014 File Investments, Inc - All Rights Reserved