Last Updated on July 23, 2023
Last Updated on July 23, 2023
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 unlike any other and one of the best waterfalls in North Carolina. If you don’t get there early enough, you’ll see that lots of 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)
Before You Go: Leave No Trace Reminder
Before continuing, we want to remind you that it’s important to 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 give this amazing waterfall and its surroundings a hug by picking up any trash you see and taking it with you. We usually take a grocery bag with us to do so.
Dry Falls Facts and Location
- Address: Dry Falls, Highlands, NC 28741
- Admission: $3/vehicle
Dry Falls is a 75-foot waterfall that is part of the Cullasaja River. It’s one of multiple waterfalls that flow through the Cullasaja Gorge, protected as part of Nanatahala National Forest.
The epic Cullasaja Falls is where the gorge ends (or begins), depending 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 from Highlands off US-64 and 16 miles (25 minutes) east from Franklin.
We’ll share more about those two places in our “Nearby Towns” section.
Driving Directions (from Asheville, Brevard, and Hendersonville)
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 trip to Dry Falls is a short 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.
There’s a parking lot next to the walkways that lead to views above and down below. Outhouse-style restrooms are available from the parking area at Dry Falls but be prepared with your own hand sanitizer as there is no running water.
The trail, while wonderfully maintained, does have steps so it is not stroller- or wheelchair-accessible. However, there is an accessible viewing platform from the trailhead that does offer beautiful views.
How to See Dry Falls
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 wonderful paths created by our parks, there are amazing vantage points all along the path to and around the falls.
When to Visit
There really is never a bad time to visit Dry Falls. The place livens up in spring with all sorts of greens sprouting up around the falls. Summer visitors will enjoy Dry Falls as a respite from the heat.
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. It is never a good idea to climb, swim, or jump from any waterfall.
Ready to Visit Dry Falls?
Dry Falls is the perfect family- and kid-friendly hike near Highlands. 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
There are plenty more waterfalls nearby because Dry Falls is part of a series of waterfalls that flow from the powerful Cullasaja River.
The Waterfall Byway
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 along this stretch between Highlands and Franklin for beautiful views and waterfalls.
Here are some more waterfalls on that byway and beyond, which you can visit to make it a true day trip full of waterfalls.
US 64 and NC 28 (and Nearby)
Bridal Veil Falls is only a mile away from Dry Falls and viewable from the road. If you are looking 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).
More Waterfalls Further East
Since it doesn’t take very long to reach Dry Falls, we think you might be up for a bit of a drive to reach 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 along the way 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!
Dry Falls 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
We mentioned Dry Falls being close to Highlands and think you should definitely spend some time in this awesome small town if you’re not staying there. You’ll pass through the beautiful Lake Sequoyah on your way into town, with the latter packed with amazing restaurants and shopping.
Another interesting 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 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 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 that lead you to a well-maintained Forest Service road.
If you’re visiting Whitewater Falls and Rainbow Falls, you’ll pass through Cashiers to reach them. We enjoyed walking around the Village Green, which is 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.