Last Updated on January 30, 2023
Last Updated on January 30, 2023
Waterfalls Park (a.k.a. Bobby Mclean Memorial Park) in the Avery County town of Newland is an amazing roadside collection of waterfalls near Banner Elk. It’s a beautiful series of cascades that you can view directly from the road (NC-194), the small bridge in front of it, or from the top.
While the waterfall is just off the road, it is often overlooked because of its location on the eastern edge of the NC High Country. However, if you know about Elk River Falls nearby, then you likely know about this waterfall.
Either way, we want to share how you can safely and responsibly view the waterfall, followed by nearby attractions (including Elk River Falls) and places to go.
If you’re as ready as we are, join us for a road trip to Waterfalls Park in Newland!
Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:
- Where is Waterfalls Park?
- More Waterfalls Park Facts
- How to See Waterfalls Park
- Before You Go: Safety Tips
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- Ready to Visit Waterfalls Park?
- Nearby Attractions
- More Things to Do Near Waterfalls Park
You can skip ahead to any of these sections or keep reading about how to find Waterfalls Park on a map.
Read More: 25+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Boone (within 2 Hours)
Where is Waterfalls Park?
GPS Address: 871 Cranberry St, Newland, NC
Waterfalls Park is located off NC-194 in the Avery County town of Newland, North Carolina, about 12 miles (20 minutes) from Banner Elk in North Carolina’s High Country. The park is about 40 minutes away from both downtown Blowing Rock and Boone.
If you’re planning to travel to Waterfalls Park, we suggest you input the address for the Dollar General that’s across the street. As we’ve found, simply plugging in “Waterfalls Park” can sometimes lead to inaccurate location info.
Cellphone signal is spotty in this area (if available at all) so we advise you to set your destination (871 Cranberry St, Newland, NC) before leaving.
Read More: Map of Waterfalls in Western North Carolina
More Waterfalls Park Facts
Waterfalls Park is also known as Bobby McLean Memorial Park. The Newland Volunteer Fire Department maintains the park and you can do your part to help them by leaving no trace. We’ll mention more about that shortly.
The actual waterfall is a double-tiered series of cascades that totals about 50 feet. The flow of water depends on recent rainfall.
For example, we’ve visited during periods of heavy rainfall and powerful cascades and during dryer spells and a series of trickling waterfalls.
Read More: Amazing Hikes near Boone and Blowing Rock (45 of the Best!)
How to See Waterfalls Park
There are a few different ways to “see” the cascades at Waterfalls Park.
- The easiest view of the waterfall is from your car, as long as you’re parked in a spot that faces the waterfalls.
- Another easy-to-reach viewpoint is the small bridge in front of the lower cascade. You can sit or lean here. There is also a picnic table and grill to the right of the waterfall.
- For a closer look at the waterfall, you can hike up and to the left. There is another picnic area near the top, where you can view the cascades rushing down.
The path to the top is a mix of natural surfaces and wooden steps. During periods of consistent or recent rain, this area can become slippery, which you won’t notice until coming down.
Please prepare with proper footwear and a plan to safely go down.
Read More: Western North Carolina (and 100+ Wonderful Places to Visit)
Before You Go: Waterfalls Park Safety Tips
Speaking of being safe, here are some safety tips for your Waterfalls Park visit:
- Please don’t test your shoes’ grip by walking along the top of this waterfall. There are innumerable factors (a bee sting, for example) that could lead to you losing your footing and falling on sharp rocks.
- If there is enough water to create pools, this is still NOT a place for swimming or diving.
- Signs indicate that you are entering this park at your own risk. That means it is up to you to stay safe and not take any chances at this waterfall.
Read More: 25 of the Best Waterfalls in North Carolina
Leave No Trace Reminder
While Waterfalls Park (or any other outdoor space in North Carolina), remember to Leave no Trace. We align with the LNT organization’s principles but here are a few points of theirs that particularly resonate with us:
- Trash does not belong in nature. Take out anything you bring with you.
- Respect local wildlife.
- Stay on the designated trail.
We are grateful for the volunteer fire department and hope you’ll do your part to ensure that the next person can enjoy this space.
Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)
Ready to Visit Waterfalls Park?
It’s easy to overlook Waterfalls Park since it’s tucked away on the western edge of the NC High Country. However, it’s easy to access, a beautifully maintained park, and within a short drive from some of our favorite mountain towns.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who have spent time here and if you have, we’d love to hear from you. Have you ever visited Waterfalls Park?
We’d love to know what you think about it. You can let us know in the comments section below or by email.
Don’t forget to share your High Country adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.
Nearby Attractions (Waterfalls, Hikes, and Places to Go)
Here are some places nearby that you can either group together with your visit to Elk River Falls or use as a base for your adventures.
Read More: 20 of the Best Day Trips from Boone (Within a 2-Hour Drive)
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 1 mile (2 minutes)
Waterfalls Park is in Newland, which is a nice town and the Avery County seat. Downtown is a couple of minutes away from the waterfall and is home to local shops, local restaurants (Kaye’s Kitchen and Carolina Barbeque), and the Avery Museum.
Read More: 80+ Amazing Small Towns in North Carolina (For Your Next Road Trip or Home!)
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 7 miles (14 minutes) to Grandfather Mountain State Park, 14 miles (30 minutes) to the Private Attraction
It’s hard to believe that Grandfather Mountain is also very close to Waterfalls Park. The NC State Parks side is amazing but we also recommend going to the attraction, which does require advance tickets and timed entry.
On the ticketed side, you’ll find the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the animal habitats, and even a sign on the road that shows you where the “Forrest Gump Curve” is located.
If you are an expert hiker, then the Grandfather Mountain State Park entrance is certainly for you. The Profile Trail is one of the most strenuous yet rewarding hikes in North Carolina, complete with ladders and ropes.
Of course, the views are well worth the effort, especially during fall!
Read more: Movies Filmed In North Carolina (and Set Here, Too!)
Elk River Falls
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 10 miles (20 minutes)
Elk River Falls is in the Avery County town of Elk Park, very close to the North Carolina-Tennessee border.
Many people come here to swim, but we want to warn you that there are many dangers to consider beforehand. Above all, this 50-foot waterfall is quite a sight to see and only a half-mile hike with a few steep steps.
Read More: 75+ Fun Day Trips from Asheville (Within a 2-Hour Drive)
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 12 miles (20 minutes)
It’s impossible to discuss Avery County without sharing more about Banner Elk. The town is about 20 minutes away from Waterfalls Park and is likely going to be your base for visiting the park.
Even if you don’t choose to stay in Banner Elk, spend some time getting to know its quaint downtown, awesome restaurants, and even more things to do. Don’t forget about the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, one of the most exciting attractions in NC!
If you like NC wine, check out both Grandfather Vineyard and Banner Elk Winery & Villa. We also love the Banner Elk Greenway that runs around Tate-Evans Park, and will always recommend a visit to Apple Hill Farm near town!
Read More: Winter in North Carolina (and 10+ Great Things to Do)
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort
Distance from Elk River Falls: 11 miles (20 minutes)
Sugar Mountain is the largest of NC’s ski resorts, with 125 acres of skiable area, 20-plus slopes, a tubing park, an ice skating rink, and a public racing program. All these amenities make Sugar Mountain a wonderful winter getaway, but there’s even more to it.
During parts of the summer, you can go mountain biking at Sugar Mountain or just ride the ski lift up to the top and back down.
Throughout the year, we highly recommend you ride the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. This is one of the most thrilling rides in North Carolina! If you don’t believe us, we dare you to go find out!
Read More: Winter in Boone (20 Great Activities, Snow Tubing, and More!)
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 18 miles (35 minutes)
The Town of Beech Mountain is home to one of our favorite ski resorts and even more fun in its surroundings. Also, just like Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort has lots to offer during the summer months!
We highly recommend you take a scenic chairlift ride up to the 5506’ Skybar and enjoy watching the mountain bikes as they boof off the trails. This has to be one of the best brewery views a person can enjoy anywhere.
Save some room for lunch at Beech Mountain Brewery’s taproom at the base of the mountain. Their delicious menu is perfect after a mountain bike ride, skiing, or just any time you’re hungry!
Don’t forget about Autumn at Oz held at the Land of Oz at the end of Summer/early fall. This Beech Mountain event is worthy of everyone’s bucket list, including yours!
Read More: 80+ Tasty North Carolina Breweries (The Best of the Best!)
Roan Mountain (Carvers Gap Entrance)
Distance from Waterfalls Park: 24 miles (35 minutes)
Roan Mountain is another great place to visit near Waterfalls Park. There are multiple ways to enjoy this mountain that straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border but we prefer hiking the Appalachian Trail portion from Carvers Gap on the NC side.
On our side of the border, you can hike to three mountain balds and epic views await on clear days. During the early summer, keep an eye out for Roan Mountain’s beautiful rhododendrons and flame azaleas!
Read More: 100+ of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway Stops Nearby
Finally, Waterfalls Park is within a short drive of some amazing Blue Ridge Parkway stops. Fun attractions like Little Switzerland and Moses Cone Memorial Park are each about 40 minutes away, but here are some stops that are even closer:
- Beacon Heights Overlook Trail (Milepost 305.2): 9 miles (16 minutes away)
- Linn Cove Viaduct (MP 304.4): 10 miles (18 minutes away)
- Rough Ridge Trail (MP 302.8): 11 miles (20 minutes away)
- Linville Falls (MP 316.2): 14 miles (22 minutes away)
- Chestoa View Parking Area and Viewpoint (MP 320.8): 15 miles (22 minutes away)
Read More: NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes (30 of the Best Trails!)
More Things to Do near Waterfalls Park (High Country Travel Guides)
Beyond these nearby places to visit, here are some North Carolina travel guides that cover more High Country attractions. This includes waterfalls near Blowing Rock, amazing hikes, and more!