This very well may be the most beautiful drive I have taken in North Carolina. Last year I wanted to plan a special trip for my mom for Mother’s Day since my dad would be out of town. My mom absolutely loves waterfalls. So I set to trying to find the perfect waterfall to visit.
With some quick research I found that western North Carolina is packed with waterfalls. Not just small wimpy waterfalls either, I am talking about huge rushing waterfalls. I finally settled on driving down U.S. Highway 64 to the picturesque town of Highlands, NC. While on this route, we would be able to see four waterfalls before we even made it to Highlands and would never have to get off U.S. 64. The four waterfalls include Cullasaja Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls, Dry Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. After the last waterfall, we would be able to continue into Highlands for lunch and then continue on to see one of five other waterfalls in the area.
I do not think we could have picked a better day to take the trip. The week leading up to the trip had been very rainy, but for once that was a good thing. Instead of getting to see the waterfalls on a normal day where the flow is average. We were able to see them extremely high and following faster than average.
Tucked down below the road we could have almost driven right past this waterfall and never realized. Luckily we had used the Waze app to find the first waterfall and there happened to be some others observing the waterfall from the roadside. To see this waterfall you have to drive past the waterfall a short way to park and then drive back down the road to the viewing area. Which happens to be less of a viewing area and more of the shoulder of the highway.
To say it was worth standing on the side of the road would be an understatement. The 250’ waterfall was breathtaking and really set the president for the trip. It was truly hard for us to leave this waterfall but we knew that there were more in store for us further down the road.
Bust Your Butt Falls
Getting its name from the slick rocks located near the falls Bust Your Butt Falls is a popular swimming hole in the summer. This waterfall is a little harder to find than the other as it sits off the road a short way, but do not let that keep you from stopping. Even though this is the smallest waterfall you will see on the drive it is still just as beautiful.
This 75-foot waterfall was definitely my favorite of the trip. There is no missing the pull-off for this waterfall as it is built up to the max with bathrooms and a large platform and staircase allowing you to get multiple views of the falls. This waterfall also allows you stand under the fall and walk to the other side. While I have not seen it first hand, a trip to this waterfall looks spectacular in the colder months as the spray for the falls will freeze under the cliff and on the railing around the base of the waterfall.Honestly, this waterfall alone would have been worth the trip.
Bridal Veil Falls
This is the last waterfall you will see before entering the town of Highlands, North Carolina. Standing at 60 feet tall this waterfall is definitely not least. At one-time automobiles were allowed to drive under the waterfall, but due to safety concerns, the road behind the falls has been blocked off. You can still walk behind the waterfall if you desire though. The waterfall falls straight into a small quarry the runs under the main road and down to mountainside.
Highlands, North Carolina
Beautiful is an understatement to describe this town. When you first start to see signs of a town it is breathtaking and makes you wonder if you are still in the mountains of North Carolina. Cute cottages placed on the edge of a small calm lake really make you feel as if you are in a different time.
As you continue you on you enter more into the commercial section of the town. This area reminds me of a small ski town. With beautiful architecture, upscale stores and restaurants. We sadly did not get to spend much time in this area since we had spent so much time looking at the waterfalls.So we took a quick walk through the small town and then grabbed lunch at a local restaurant. We hope to take a weekend trip to this area soon so we can explore more.
Other Waterfalls in The Area
Sadly due to a fallen tree and heavy rain, we are unable to visit any of the other waterfalls in the area. However, if you take a trip to Highlands and want to see more than the four amazing on the drive in then you can take a short drive to visit any of the following waterfalls.
- Glen Falls
- About 2 miles
- 10 mins. from Highlands, NC
- Secret Falls Trailhead
- 1-mile round trip
- 24 mins. from the previous trial
- Cashiers Sliding Rock
- .5 mile
- 29 mins. from the previous trial
- Silver Run Falls Trailhead
- .15 of a mile
- 10 mins. from the previous trial
- Rainbow Falls
- 3 miles round trip
- 22 mins. from the previous trial
Unlike the first four waterfalls, the five listed above do require a small hike. You probably noticed that the drive time starts to add up as you scroll down the list. We have not had the chance, but I would recommend that you do some research and try to visit the one or ones that look best to you. One great website to do this research on is Romantic Asheville. The site is full of great ideas for things to do in the Asheville area.
The Bascom ended up being a bonus for us due to the rain. Before making the drive we did not even know the place excited, but we saw it while driving into Highlands and decided to stop on the way back since we had a little extra time. The Bascom is, as they refer to it, is a center for the visual arts. When driving in you go through an old covered bridge over a small creek. Once inside the building, you find multiple rooms with different exhibits. When we visited it many focused on photography and they had so very amazing pictures throughout the building.
At this time they also had a portrait area set up that was set up with a remote for the camera so you could take portraits of yourself and your group. We all had a blast playing with this. The camera had been set up to take the pictures in black in white and they displayed them on a large screen so you could see from them the bench you sat on to take the pictures. What we did not realize was that they were going to post the pictures taken with this camera to their facebook page. Which for my mom, brother, and I was a shock. LaBre, however, was extremely excited that she would get to save these images forever. Be sure to check out The Bascom’s website here.
Overall this was a great trip and we all had a blast. I would recommend that anyone takes a drive down U.S. Highway 64 and stops to look in on these beautiful waterfalls. My younger brother that normally does not enjoy outdoor activities even admitted that he had a great time on the trip. Thank you so much for reading, we hope that it inspired you to take this drive. If you do, be sure to let us know and even send us some pictures on our social media or by email to Justin@thefamleelife.com or LaBre@thefamleelife.com. Please be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to always stay up to date on our adventures. Thanks again and God bless.