Gorgeous WNC waterfalls to visit this winter

Along with the nearby ski slopes, waterfalls in the Western North Carolina mountains make for beautiful, picturesque winter scenes — all you have to do is go find them.

Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This 150-ft. tall waterfall is impressive, especially after rainy weather that swells the Horsepasture River. The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side and top. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just one of a series of cascades and waterfalls on a two-mile stretch of the river. The park is in the Sapphire community, near Lake Toxaway, and about 55 miles from downtown Asheville.

Bridal Veil Falls near Highlands has been famous for generations as the only waterfall in North Carolina you can drive behind. However, the section of road behind the falls is now blocked off from automobiles for safety. Less than a mile from Bridal Veil Falls is Dry Falls, which is easily accessed along a paved path from a parking lot. Both waterfalls are located inside Nantahala National Forest.

Whitewater Falls is and impressive waterfall east of the Rockies, falling 811 feet The Upper Falls plummets 411 feet and is 60 miles from downtown Asheville in the Nantahala National Forest. It’s on the Whitewater River in the Jocassee Gorge area of North Carolina — in Jackson County. The 400-ft. Lower Falls can be accessed from a different location in South Carolina.

Linville Falls is probably the most photographed waterfall in NC. It is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Milepost 316.4, about 66 miles north of Asheville. You can hike to five viewpoints via two trails leaving from the Visitors Center (1.5 miles drive from the Parkway). The Visitors Center offers restrooms, a picnic area and an information center (open May-October and weekends in April). Located in Burke County, Linville Falls drops 90 feet into the 12-mile long Linville Gorge with cliffs towering above the river. Only one of the trails is strenuous, and you can hike to all five viewpoints with a four-mile hike.

Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. It is road-side accessible, making it one of the easiest to view. The name “Looking Glass” comes from Looking Glass Rock, where water freezes on its sides in the winter and then glistens in the sunlight like a mirror or looking glass. Looking Glass Creek, which flows past the rock, is also named for the impressive natural structure. Enjoy nice views from the parking area along the road. Or take a short walk for a closer look.

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