For one of the most spectacular views in the North Carolina mountains, head to Wiseman's View on the western side of Linville Gorge (often called the "Grand Canyon of Eastern America"). Find two stone observation areas perched on the cliff at about 3,400 feet elevation. About 1,500 feet below you is the Linville River and directly across the deepest gorge in the eastern USA are the dramatic peaks of Hawksbill (left in photo above) and Table Rock (right) mountains.
The second of the stone decks peers south. Located deep in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area of Pisgah National Forest, Wiseman's View is located along the unpaved (and bumpy) Kistler Memorial Highway near Linville Falls. High clearance vehicles are recommended! Find a large parking area and a paved 2/10 of a mile trail to the observation areas.
While the best views require some steps, the upper viewing area (pic above) is wheelchair and scooter accessible. There's a single restroom at the parking area, but no visitor center or water.
Since you are facing east, afternoons usually have the best lighting with the sun shining on the ridges and cliffs in front of you. Bring your binoculars to really appreciate the details (and watch people atop the summits across the gorge).
At night, watch for the Brown Mountain Lights. Along this road, you will pass parking areas for various trails, including Linville Falls, Pine Gap Trail, Bynum Bluff Trail, Cabin Trail, Babel Tower Trail, Sandy Flats Trail, Conley Cove-Rock Jock Trail and Pinch In Trail. Read more about Linville Gorge.
To hike to the summits of Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains, you'll need to drive around to the other side of the gorge (about 14 miles). Both trails are short and views are spectacular. See our guides for Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock.
Blue Ridge Parkway is just a mile away (at Milepost 317.4). For a much easier viewpoint of the Linville Gorge (but not as spectacular), stop at Chestoa View on the Parkway.
Don't even think of using GPS since it is very unreliable in our national forests. Many closed roads are map. And some open roads are not! The easiest way to reach it is from the community of Linville Falls on US Highway 221. It's about 60 miles from Asheville. Take I-40 to Marion. Take exit 81 and turn left on Sugar Hill Road. Go about 3 miles to US 221 North. Drive US 221 for about 24 miles to the community of Linville Falls. Turn right onto NC Highway 183. Go one mile to the large Linville Gorge sign on right - turning onto the Kistler Memorial Highway (also known as 1238 and old NC 105). Drive four miles to Wiseman's View. You'll immediately see the Linville Falls parking area. The dirt and gravel road has potholes and ruts. So drive slow. Higher clearance cars are best - you could damage low to the ground sports cars.
Nearby Things to Do
This tiny summer retreat along the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its charming architecture, historic inns, gem mining, winding motorcycle drives and amazing book store. Near Spruce Pine.
Places to Stay: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals, B&Bs and hotels near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
North Carolina's only natural limestone caverns feature stalactite, stalagmite formations and an underground stream. Guided tours.