Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on January 4, 2024.
Many of our outdoor spaces in North Carolina are harder to access, but these beautiful roadside waterfalls are for everyone to see. Scattered throughout Western NC, these waterfalls can mostly be viewed from your car, by a short and safe walk from a designated parking lot, or via an observation deck.
In this guide, you’ll find specific details about each of these roadside waterfalls, including the best ways to view them, and location info. We’re excited to share more about them all, so buckle up and prepare for a fun ride to these accessible waterfalls in North Carolina!
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- List of Roadside Waterfalls
- More Waterfalls to Visit in North Carolina
Before You Go: Leave No Trace Reminder
Before continuing, we want to remind you that it’s important to leave these roadside waterfalls in North Carolina as you found them. Please pack out what you pack in and leave no trace.
You can give these amazing waterfalls and their surroundings a big hug by picking up any trash you see and taking it with you. We often bring a grocery bag to do so.
List of Roadside Waterfalls in North Carolina (+ Map)
We’ve listed these incredible roadside waterfalls in alphabetical order.
If you’re a visual planner, our map of waterfalls in Western North Carolina will show you how to find these roadside waterfalls and waterfall hikes throughout the state.
Big Creek Falls
Big Creek Falls is technically a roadside waterfall that is in the northwestern reaches of Yancey County about 30 minutes from Burnsville. You can see it from the road, but we suggest you get out of your car (if you can) for a closer look.
A short, steep, and sometimes slippery descent down a rock stairway will also take you to a better view of this gorgeous waterfall. However, you can see it just fine from the side of the road.
Bridal Veil Falls
One of the most recognizable roadside waterfalls in North Carolina is Bridal Veil Falls between Highlands and Franklin. Located along the NC Waterfall Byway and inside Nantahala National Forest, Bridal Veil is the perfect place to pull your car up to and admire the water that streams off the cliff.
Visitors to Bridal Veil can walk behind the waterfall and view it from all angles. Note that there are two waterfalls by the same name and the second Bridal Veil Falls is inside DuPont State Recreational Forest.
Bust Your Butt Falls
Also located along the NC Waterfall Byway (and in Nantahala National Forest) is Bust Your Butt Falls. You’ll find this roadside waterfall wedged between Cullasaja Falls and Dry Falls.
During the summer, Bust Your Butt Falls becomes a popular swimming hole with a natural slide and a rope for swinging! Remember to practice caution when swimming in rivers and always to leave no trace!
Dry Falls is a 65-foot waterfall that is viewable from an accessible observation platform next to the parking lot. It is just a few miles outside of Highlands and near the previous two roadside waterfalls.
This makes for a wonderful kid-friendly hike if you choose to walk down the trail to see this angle.
We’ve been asked numerous times whether or not this roadside waterfall is completely stroller-friendly or accessible, and while the platform from the parking lot is, the full trail is not.
There are several steps on the short path, but we wouldn’t categorize the trail beyond the platform, and the parking lot creates easy access for this waterfall.
Green Mountain Creek Falls
Green Mountain Creek Falls is one of the lesser-known roadside waterfalls in North Carolina and is located just eight miles from downtown Blowing Rock. The 20-foot waterfall is on a section of Highway 221 that is known as the Little Parkway.
You’ll park your car across the curvy road from the waterfall. Green Mountain Creek Falls sits at a bend in the scenic road and continues to flow underneath. However, you can only easily view the upper section.
Located on private property (but the owners allow visitors) is Key Fall outside of Brevard. This roadside waterfall sits beside the Key Falls Inn and is a beautiful series of tumbling cascades.
We’ve learned firsthand that cell service can be spotty in this area, so here are some directions for you:
- If you’re coming from Brevard, head out on US-64 East for 3.5 miles.
- Turn right on Crab Creek Rd and travel for another 1.5 miles.
- Turn right again on Everett Rd.
- Travel about 3 miles from there to the driveway for the entrance to Key Falls Inn, which will be on your left.
- From here, you have 2 options:
- 1) Turn at the gravel road prior to the entrance and drive 0.2 miles to the falls.
- 2) or You can turn into the Key Falls Inn’s driveway, park, and walk the short path to the falls.
You can park at the entrance and walk to the falls or park right at them, enjoy, grab some photos, and head off for more adventures!
Looking Glass Falls
If can be found on the left side of the US 276 portion of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, which cuts through Pisgah National Forest. If you continue further up this road you’ll also see pull-offs for Moore Cove Falls (hike required) and the ever-popular Sliding Rock.
Looking Glass is accessible and can be seen from your car, but if you can head down the steps, enjoy a view of this 60-foot waterfall’s base.
The road is a quiet residential area with houses dotted along your two-mile journey down to the waterfall. You’ll pass the waterfall first on your left and find several parking spots on the right just past it.
There won’t be much traffic on this road, so feel free to take as long as you like to admire the 70-foot waterfall! Just remember that there are private residences located nearby and to be respectful of them.
Slick Rock Falls
Slick Rock Falls might be tucked away on a separate road from some of the other awesome waterfalls near Brevard, but this one is still pretty popular. You can see it from your car but as with most roadside waterfalls, get out for a much closer look.
The 35-foot waterfall cascades over a cliff and is great to stand under on hot days. Just be mindful of the namesake slick rocks that you’ll be standing on.
Sunburst Falls is an easy day trip from Asheville in Haywood County, North Carolina. The breathtaking roadside waterfall is along the NC Highway 215 section of the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway.
The waterfall cascades over multiple tiers before descending into the valley below, passing through a historic stone bridge dating back to 1937.
Travelers can park on the roadside and walk over the bridge, offering various vantage points for admiring Sunburst Falls. Please exercise caution when walking near the road to get a closer look at this natural wonder.
For those seeking a closer view of the upper tiers of the waterfall, you can rock scramble for a better view. However, swimming in this area is discouraged due to the potential danger of slipping and falling.
Waterfalls Park in Newland (near Banner Elk) is an awesome double cascade roadside waterfall in North Carolina. It is a beautiful spot for a picnic and there are even several picnic tables in front of the waterfall for you to enjoy.
The waterfall is maintained by the Newland Volunteer Fire Department and is an easier alternative to the nearby Elk River Falls.
Bonus Roadside Waterfall (Moravian Falls)
To see Moravian Falls in Wilkes County, you do need to ask permission from the Moravian Falls Campground, as a cabin for paying guests is located at the base of the falls. However, this one still qualifies as a roadside waterfall, so we’ll include it as a bonus.
This waterfall is named after the Moravian community who settled in the area in 1753. Moravian Falls flows 60 feet across a wide rock face.
Which of these Roadside Waterfalls is Your Favorite?
We love visiting these roadside waterfalls and can’t wait to return for more wonderful views from our car (and nearby). Have you ever witnessed any of these falls?
Out of them all, which one is your favorite, and which one are you looking forward to seeing next? You can let us know in the comments or contact us by email.
Don’t forget to share your NC waterfall adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
More Waterfalls in North Carolina
Beyond these amazing roadside waterfalls, we’ve created more travel guides to specific waterfalls and collections of falls throughout Western North Carolina.