Must-See Mountain Attractions
Magnificent waterfalls, breathtaking views and natural wonders fill the mountain region. Start planning your trip to take in the sights and experience a variety of our most sought after views with this list of must-see places.
At 411 feet, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States
Visit one of our more than 300 waterfalls
North Carolina is home to more than 300 waterfalls, many in Brevard or Transylvania County in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you start in the small town of Sapphire, you can venture out along Whitewater Way. The byway winds through the southern section of the Nantahala National Forest, which is home to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re near Highlands, check out Dry Falls, which has one very unique characteristic - you can walk behind it, along the ledge obstructed from the outside by its powerful waters.
Wind along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Whether you want to take in spectacular scenery, incredible views and overlooks, or get out of the car and onto the hiking trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway is for you. Connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the parkway offers 469 miles of year-round color to enjoy and quaint small towns to explore. You will always discover something new along America’s Favorite Drive.
Reach the top of Looking Glass Rock
Although this rock face is one of the most popular sport climbing destinations in North Carolina, a very walkable trail makes the view overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway accessible to nearly everyone. The well-marked Looking Glass Rock Trail is a visitor favorite and ascends about 1,700 feet in slightly more than three miles. When you complete the hike, you will arrive at Upper Looking Glass Cliffs where you can take in views of Mount Pisgah, Graveyard Fields and other nearby peaks.
See and smell the rhododendron on Roan Mountain
In Carver’s Gap along the North Carolina-Tennessee line, rhododendron season peaks in the early summer, and vibrant pink blooms spread completely over the high ridge that is Roan Mountain. Although these flowers are not uncommon, in a good year, these particularly dense plants can stand taller than a person and cover acres of terrain. You can experience these blooms in the Rhododendron Garden in the Recreation Area or on Round Bald, visible from Carver’s Gap.
Experience The Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock is our state’s oldest attraction. It is an immense cliff that offers views of Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock and Hawskbill Mountain after only a short scenic walk to its rocky face. The wind along the cliff blows up from the valley below causing snow and rain to fall upside down. Legend has it that a gust of wind returned a lost lover to a grief-stricken Chickasaw maiden many years ago and that is when the wind began perpetually blowing upward.
Climb Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock is located near magnificent Lake Lure, and offers sweeping views and climbing options for everyone. Take on the more than 400 stairs from the parking lot, or ride the elevator up a 26-story shaft blasted through solid granite. Regardless of how you get there, the top of Chimney Rock will not disappoint you. You will overlook Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure, and on a clear day you might be able to see Kings Mountain nearly 75 miles to the east. You can also enjoy hiking, bird-watching or rock climbing while you’re at the park.
Spot the Shadow of the Bear
Discover this naturally occurring phenomenon, which happens only twice a year in the spring and fall, when the bear-like shadow comes out of hibernation and casts his shadow onto Whiteside Mountain. If you're interested in seeing The Bear, the best viewing spot is right off of Highway 64 in a place called the "Rhodes Big View Overlook." Contact the Jackson County Visitors Center or Cashiers Area Travel and Tourism for more information on how to time your visit just right.
Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As the nation’s most-visited park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has something for everyone. With more than 800 miles of hiking trails, hundreds of miles of horse trails, 700 miles of fishable streams and ample opportunity for wildlife viewing, the most difficult decision will be what to do first. Recommended stops include Clingman’s Dome, Fontana Dam, Newfound Gap, and the beautiful drive through Cades Cove. Let the Smokies Trip Planner help you map out your adventure.
Explore DuPont State Forest
Encompassing 10,300 acres spanning Henderson and Transylvania counties, DuPont State Forest is home to many beautiful waterfalls, lakes and other scenic attractions. Some of the Forest’s most popular attractions include taking in the beauty of Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and hiking along Cedar Rock Mountain and Stone Mountain. The forest is in the Little River Valley and is open year round to visitors.
added: February 28, 2012
updated: June 30, 2012
Ideas & What To Do
Magnificent waterfalls, breathtaking views and natural wonders fill the…
Travel some of the same paths that held epic adventurers like Daniel…
From the mountains to the coast, scenic beauty abounds in North…
Majestic snow capped peaks, rugged trails winding through forests with…
The North Carolina mountains provide a wide selection of trails for…
From top of the world ski resorts to Yadkin Valley wineries, the…
You don’t have to look far to discover what has drawn artists,…
Asheville has always been one of those places that visitors are…
There’s a reason the Blue Ridge Parkway is called America’s…
The North Carolina Mountains are synonymous with everything outdoors,…