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How to Reach Beautiful Dry Falls in Highlands, NC

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on March 18, 2024.

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Dry Falls sits just a few miles outside of Highlands, one of our favorite mountain towns! This spectacular 75-foot roadside waterfall is one you can walk behind, and we’re here to share everything you need to know about it.

Its waters gush over a cliff that juts out to create a perfect overflow. And as the name suggests, you can remain dry as you walk behind Dry Falls.

From there, you can enjoy a unique reverse view of the waterfall and the Cullasaja River that continues down the Cullasaja Gorge.

Even though it’s easy to reach, we think Dry Falls is one of the best waterfalls near Highlands, NC, and unlike any other waterfall in North Carolina. If you don’t get there early enough, you’ll see that many people agree this spot is worthy of everyone’s NC Bucket List!

Now, there is a lot to know about Dry Falls before you go, so here is how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Before You Go: Leave No Trace Reminder
  • Dry Falls Facts and Location
  • Driving Directions from Asheville and Brevard (also, Hendersonville!)
  • Parking Info and Accessibility Info
  • Hiking to Dry Falls
  • When to Visit
  • Safety Tips and Additional Info
  • Nearby Waterfalls (the Waterfall Byway and More!)
  • Nearby Places to Visit
  • More Things to Do in Western North Carolina (Related Posts)

Read More: 50+ Beautiful Waterfalls Near Asheville (Within 2 Hours)

Before You Go: Leave No Trace Reminder

Before continuing, we want to remind you that you must leave Dry Falls (and its surroundings in the Cullasaja Gorge) as you found it. Please pack out what you pack in and leave no trace.

You can hug this amazing waterfall and its surroundings by picking up any trash you see and taking it with you. We usually take a grocery bag with us to do so.

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Dry Falls Facts and Location

  • Address: Dry Falls, Highlands, NC 28741
  • Admission: $3/vehicle
the view of Dry Falls from the path leading underneath the waterfall

Dry Falls is a 75-foot waterfall that is part of the Cullasaja River. It’s one of the multiple waterfalls that flow through the Cullasaja Gorge, which is protected as part of the Nantahala National Forest.

The epic Cullasaja Falls is where the gorge ends (or begins), depending on which direction you’re traveling on US-64, aka the Waterfall Byway.

One of the biggest draws for Dry Falls is that it is so easy to reach. It’s 4 miles (10 minutes) west of Highlands off US-64 and 16 miles (25 minutes) east of Franklin.

We’ll share more about those two places in our “Nearby Towns” section.

Read More: Map of Waterfalls in Western NC (50+ of the Best and Most Beautiful!)

Driving Directions (from Asheville, Brevard, and Hendersonville)

Bridal Veil Falls falling over a paved sidewalk

If you are coming from Highlands, you will pass Bridal Veil Falls going west on US 64, and the forest service sign will be on your left. This one isn’t to be confused with the Bridal Veil Falls inside DuPont State Forest.

The Dry Falls trip is a 1-1/2 hour drive from Asheville. Heading west toward Waynesville, pick up U.S. 64 East toward Highlands. The sign for Dry Falls will be on your right after approximately 16.5 miles.

From Brevard (40 miles, 1 hour) or Hendersonville (61 miles, 1 hour and 35 minutes), you’ll take US 64 West the whole way.

Read More: 25+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Brevard (Within 1 Hour)

Parking Info

There’s a parking lot next to the walkways that lead to views above and down below. Outhouse-style restrooms are available from the Dry Falls parking area but be prepared with your hand sanitizer as there is no running water.

Accessibility Info

While wonderfully maintained, the trail has steps, so it is not stroller- or wheelchair-accessible. However, there is an accessible viewing platform from the trailhead that offers beautiful views.

How to See Dry Falls

Dry Falls Highlands NC

From the parking lot, you’ll follow a short path through green flora and rocky forest. The walk down is perfect for younger children, though you might want to hold their hands while walking around the noisy water.

You’ll eventually walk underneath the cascading water. Thanks to the beautiful paths created by our parks, there are fantastic vantage points all along the path to and around the falls.

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

When to Visit

NC Waterfalls Dry Falls

There is never a bad time to visit Dry Falls. The place lives in spring, with all sorts of greens sprouting up around the falls. Summer visitors will enjoy Dry Falls as a respite from the heat.

The fall months provide a beautiful framing of foliage. It’s not unusual to see ice formations around the falls in winter.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Safety Tips and Additional Info

Please stick to the path provided. The water moves quickly, and the rocks below the falls can be slippery and dangerous. Climbing, swimming, or jumping from any waterfall is never a good idea.

Ready to Visit Dry Falls?

Dry Falls North Carolina

Dry Falls is the perfect family-friendly and kid-friendly hike to the Highlands, NC, waterfalls. It’s short, easy, paved, and offers incredible hard-to-top views. And if you’ve been before, we’d love to know what you thought about this awesome waterfall.

Do you have any additional spots nearby that we and our friends should check out? Let us know about them in the comments section!

More Waterfalls Nearby

Plenty more waterfalls are nearby because Dry Falls is part of a series of waterfalls flowing from the mighty Cullasaja River.

Read More: Western North Carolina (and 100+ Wonderful Places to Visit)

The Waterfall Byway

Waterfalls in North Carolina Dry Falls near Highalnds and Franklin

This portion of US 64 is known as the Waterfall Byway, and the section that weaves along the Cullasaja River is nationally designated as the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.

There are many pullovers between the Highlands, NC, waterfalls, and Franklin, NC.

Here are some more waterfalls on that byway and beyond, which you can visit to make it a proper day trip full of waterfalls.

Read More: 20 of the Best North Carolina Road Trips (Scenic Byways and Highways)

US 64 and NC 28 (and Nearby)

Bust Your Butt Falls Near Highlands NC

Bridal Veil Falls is only a mile away from Dry Falls, North Carolina, and viewable from the road. If you are looking for short hike options nearby, then Glen Falls (6 miles, 14 minutes) and Secret Falls (10 miles, 25 minutes) would also be perfect.

Great swimming holes nearby include Bust Your Butt Falls (3 miles, 6 minutes) or Cullasaja Falls (6 miles, 12 minutes).

Read More: 4 National Forests in NC (Things to Do + Why We Love Them!)

More Waterfalls Further East

Upper Whitewater Falls NC

Since it doesn’t take long to reach Dry Falls in the Highlands of NC, we think you might be up for a bit of a drive to get even more waterfalls.

Panthertown is about 35 minutes away from Dry Falls and home to Schoolhouse Falls, one of our favorites in Jackson County. You can reach it after a 1.25-mile hike (2.5 miles roundtrip).

The epic Upper Whitewater Falls (25 miles, 42 minutes) is a multi-drop waterfall that cascades more than 400 feet. If you’re driving south on NC 107 to Upper Whitewater Falls, stop at Silver Run Falls for a quick dip!

If you are looking for a longer hike to some water, the 4-mile trek to Rainbow Falls (24 miles, 40 minutes) is within 7 miles (10 minutes) of Upper Whitewater Falls and well worth the extra effort!

Read More: Sunburst Falls (How to Find this Amazing Roadside Waterfall!)

Nearby Towns

Dry Falls, NC, is in a sweet spot between Highlands and Franklin, which we’ll mention along with Cashiers over in Jackson County.

Read More: Day Trips from Asheville

Highlands

Lake Sequoyah is an excellent introduction to Highlands if you're coming from Dry Falls.

We mentioned Dry Falls being close to Highlands and think you should definitely spend some time in this fantastic small town if you’re not staying there. You’ll pass through the beautiful Lake Sequoyah on your way into town, which is packed with excellent restaurants and shopping.

Another exciting place to visit in Highlands is the Museum of American Cut and Engraved Glass, which shows off pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Franklin

an empty shopping street in Franklin, NC

Franklin is the Macon County seat and is partially known as the “Gem Capital of the World.”

The town’s Scottish Tartans Museum is the only extension of the Scottish original that you’ll find in the United States. NC Beer fans will enjoy a pint or flight at Lazy Hiker Brewing (designated driver recommended).

Franklin is also a popular stop for Appalachian Trail hikers, and Outdoor 76 is an awesome outfitter for all levels of trekkers. Speaking of the Appalachian Trail, it runs through Wayah Bald Tower and Wesser Bald Fire Tower, both of which you can reach from downtown Franklin.

It’s about a 40-minute drive and worth all the curves, twists, and turns leading to a well-maintained Forest Service road.

Cashiers

a path through a flower garden in Cashiers, NC

If you’re visiting Whitewater Falls and Rainbow Falls, you’ll pass through Cashiers to reach them. We enjoyed walking around the Village Green, perfect for stretching your legs before or after drives on curvy roads around here.

Its paths will take you through wetlands, gardens, and more pretty scenery.

More Waterfalls in North Carolina

More Things to Do in Western North Carolina

3 thoughts on “How to Reach Beautiful Dry Falls in Highlands, NC”

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for responding. As of now, nearly all events have been canceled and we’ve not seen any reports of events going forward. Hope you understand and enjoy your time in North Carolina!

      Reply
  1. Hi there,
    I love reading about all these beautiful falls to visit in NC. I am especially interested in visiting Dry Falls. Do you have any hotel/cabin recommendations for a family of 5 weekend getaway?

    Reply

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