Monday, May 12, 2014

Scenic Highway through the Gorge

US Highway 64 from Highlands NC to Franklin NC is designated a scenic highway.  The road twists and turns through the Cullasaja Gorge following along the Cullasaja River.  There are several waterfalls within easy distance on this stretch of road.

I remember trips here when I was a child.  In a non-air-conditioned car.  Arguing with my brother about the imaginary center of the back seat and which side had the better view.   I was always excited when we came to Bridal Veil Falls because the highway actually went underneath the falls which dropped on the other side of the road.  If there were no cars behind us, my daddy would stop briefly under the falls.

One of many waterfalls in NC called "Bridal Veil"

Today the regular part of the highway  passes by the waterfall but one can still park and walk on the old highway under the waterfall.  In 2003 a large boulder fell and blocked part of the entrance on the old highway.  In 2007 a private contractor removed the boulder so people can once again drive under the waterfall.  Few people, except for motorcyclists actually drive under the falls because there are usually people walking there.

 The water drops over the old highway

 A short drive from Bridal Veil Falls brings one to Dry Falls.  Improvements have made this waterfall much more accessible than before.  The parking lot is spacious, there is a handicap-accessible viewing area and a paved path all the way beneath and beyond the waterfall.

Folklore says the waterfall got its name because people can walk behind the waterfall and stay dry.

 Upper Cullasaja Falls known as Dry Falls

 Differing references give its height as 65-80 feet

We did not walk behind Dry Falls because there were just too many people.  Waterfalls lose a lot of their appeal close up if there are too many people around.

 The tiny people in the bottom left are getting ready to walk behind the waterfall.
(You might need to click to enlarge)

The drive back from Franklin towards Highlands is quite beautiful and there are at least three waterfalls that can be viewed.  On the day we were there, the turnoffs were full, so we couldn't photograph them.  We will definitely make this trip again.


Vicki Lane said...

I visited that area a few years ago -- spectacular!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I was amazed when I clicked on the 'dry fall's to see how little the people were. IT is a huge waterfall.
Lovely views. Thanks for sharing.

troutbirder said...

Ah lovely falls indeed. Reminded me of our return from Florida to visit our new friends in Maryville, Tennessee. We first had met them at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and got a grand tour of GSMNP. With much rain in Feb. there were water falls everywhere. Alan, a retired ranger in the Park said he had never seen the falls so spectacular.

The Bug said...


Tara Crowley said...

Reminds me of areas on the island of Kauai. What a lovely drive for you to take!

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks for the advice to click to see the people. It really makes one realize just how mammoth the falls are.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Troutbirder - You were lucky to see the falls of the GSMNP during high flow.