Best Waterfalls near Asheville NC

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and abundant outdoor activities. One of the most alluring features of this picturesque region is its multitude of breathtaking waterfalls. From towering cascades to hidden gems tucked away in lush forests, Asheville’s waterfalls offer a respite from the city with serene picnic spots and enticing swimming holes. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best waterfalls near Asheville, all accessible within one hour’s drive time from Western North Carolina’s largest city.

 

Always practice waterfall safety! Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls and use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks. These rocks are slippery from mist and algae. The top of any waterfall is dangerous—never play in the stream above a waterfall.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls, North Carolina

Located in Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass Falls is one of the most visited waterfalls near Asheville. Plunging approximately 60 feet into a pool below, it’s easy to see why this symmetrical cascade captivates thousands of visitors per year. Accessible via a short walk from the parking area off US  276 S, Looking Glass Falls offers an excellent opportunity for photography, swimming, and sun bathing. 

 

This waterfall has come by its popularity for good reason. The roadside waterfall, just 9 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a natural wonder that can be enjoyed by most! You’ll find parallel parking on the side of the road, and a flight of stairs to access the base of the falls. With plenty of rocks for lounging, plan on bringing a picnic for a relaxing summer afternoon. Just remember that there are no trash cans nearby, so prepare to carry your trash back to your car.

Sliding Rock

best swimming hole near asheville north carolina sliding rock

Just a stone’s throw away from Looking Glass Falls lies Sliding Rock, a unique natural waterslide that promises exhilarating fun for visitors of all ages. Also located off US 276 S, Sliding Rock is a popular summer destination. Here, you can slide down the smooth rock face and plunge into an 8-10 foot deep pool below. 

 

Although open and accessible year round, you’ll find public restrooms open and lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 7 days a week. Prepare to pay a $5 cover charge per person when facilities are available. Keep in mind, too, that the water at Sliding Rock stays a chilling 55 degrees year round! Not to worry, though; there’s an observation deck to overlook the activities if you’re not feeling brave enough for the slide!

Triple Falls

Situated in DuPont State Recreational Forest, Triple Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls near Asheville, North Carolina. Multiple parking areas allow easy access to moderate hiking trails, which all converge at this triple-tiered beauty. Triple Falls is a great choice for hikers of all skill levels since most of the hiking trails are wide and lined with gravel. 

 

The best part is the multiple vantage points on which you can gain different perspectives of this impressive cascade. You’ll find an overhead observation area along the main trail, but if you’re up for a workout, climb down the wooden stairways to reach the viewing platform near the base. There, you can take your time at eye level gazing at the powerful rapids rushing over mountain boulders. 

 

Triple Falls is a destination in its own right, but to add icing to the cake, another one of North Carolina’s “must do” waterfalls is on the same trail! For a fully guided tour to see these and other epic waterfalls near Asheville, book the Wonderful Waterfall Tour!

Rainbow Falls

best waterfalls near asheville nc

Named for the vibrant rainbow that often appears in its mist, Rainbow Falls is a stunning waterfall located in Gorges State Park. Accessible via a scenic hiking trail, this 150-foot cascade plunges into a natural mountain pool below. If you dare to do the scramble down the hill, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most epic swimming holes near Asheville!

 

The 2 mile hike to Rainbow Falls offers hikers a rewarding trek through a dense forest setting nestled alongside a roaring river. If the scenic hike isn’t enough to satisfy your nature craving, be prepared to be fully immersed when approaching this North Carolina waterfall! The roaring waters are so powerful that the spraying mist will have you drenched from head to toe!

 

For a longer adventure, continue on the trail to find another popular swimming hole and waterfall: Turtleback Falls. 

Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls 2

No trip to Western North Carolina should end without viewing the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. Whitewater Falls, an impressive 411 foot cascade, is easily one of the best waterfalls near Asheville. This magnificent natural wonder can be easily accessed via a paved path, making this one of the best spots for people of all abilities. The wheelchair-friendly path to the falls starts in a paved parking area where you’ll need to contribute a $3 per vehicle fee. There are public restrooms available as well as informational boards.

 

Once down the path, there are two observation platforms where you can witness the sheer power of this North Carolina waterfall. The first platform is found at the end of the path. The second one can be accessed after walking down 154 steps. The trail can continue from there down into the gorge, but there are no other views of Whitewater Falls. 

 

If you’re coming from Asheville, North Carolina, Take 240-West to I26-West. Go to the Asheville Airport/Brevard Exit (exit 9) and take a right onto U.S. 64. Drive west on U.S. 64. At Sapphire, turn left on NC 281 and go south to the Whitewater Falls entrance.

Please do not go off trail anywhere near this waterfall. There have been deadly tragedies that have occurred here!

Waterfall Safety

Getting to see the best waterfalls near Asheville, North Carolina will continue to be a highlight of any trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these impressive cascades are natural and potentially dangerous. Even if the top of a waterfall is accessible via a trail, never walk across the top of a waterfall, and never play in waters above a plunging cascade. Water currents are strong and rocks are slick, both can lead to catastrophic results!

 

Consider booking a guided hiking tour to see some of North Carolina’s most impressive waterfalls. Expert local guides can enhance your safety while maximizing your time in the mountains!

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