More often than not, there are times when winter gets gray, cold and boring. You’ve been inside at the office all day, it’s dark when you get there, and it’s dark when you leave. Sometimes, you just need to get out of the house. And if you’re in Asheville, NC we’ve got the perfect winter excursion for you: winter waterfalls!
There’s nothing more beautiful than a waterfall in the winter. Many of them look like they’ve been frozen in motion, and it’s an eerie natural phenomenon that you can’t miss. So if you’re up for a short road trip, we’ve gone ahead and listed our favorite winter waterfalls just outside of Asheville! All of the waterfalls in this list are roadside, or almost near the roadside, and located in national parks and forests that are open every day. You’ll be able to see any of these waterfalls from the warmth of your car, or you can take a very short trek down to see them if you’re ready to brave the cold. Here’s the list of our favorites:
Looking Glass Falls
Perhaps one of Asheville’s most famous waterfalls, Looking Glass Falls is just a short half-hour drive from downtown. This waterfall actually gets its name from the water that freezes onto nearby rocks in the wintertime. The very thin layer of ice gives the rocks a shiny, mirror-like appearance that reflects light and makes the whole area seem bright. You can easily see this waterfall from the roadside parking lot just off U.S. 276, or if the weather’s nice, you can take the steps closer to the 60-foot falls. Please take care, as ice does sometimes freeze on the steps, making for a slippery trek.
Slick Rock Falls
Just a few miles from Looking Glass Falls, in the Pisgah Forest lies the impressive Slick Rock Falls. This waterfall is unique, as it cascades 35 feet down an overhanging cliff, leaving enough clearance that visitors can safely walk behind the waterfall if they choose. Slick Rock is a cool site in the winter, especially when it freezes completely. Since the water flows over the rock, you can check out ice formations from every side if you venture out of the car. Also on U.S. 276, Slick Rock is just a short walk from the parking area. If you’re brave and very careful, you can even walk around the frozen falls. Please note that it will be extremely slick.
About 40 minutes from downtown Asheville, Soco Falls is a brilliant double waterfall. This uncommon formation is located just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, on US Highway 19. To see the waterfall, there’s a five-minute walk to an observation deck that’s open year round. The observation deck overlooks the taller, 120-foot waterfall, but in the winter when the leaves are gone, you’ll also be able to see the smaller falls on the left from here. There is a trail that takes visitors closer to the waterfall, but it’s very steep and slippery, so only experienced hikers should attempt.
If you want to drive a little further…
These next few waterfalls are equally as beautiful, but make for a longer ride. All three of these are about an hour and a half drive from downtown Asheville, but well worth the wait. Pack some snacks and make it a road trip!
Ignore the funny name of these falls, they’re nothing but beautiful. Also known as the Laurel Creek Falls, this is a popular swimming hole in the summertime. Winter is a great time to take in this gorgeous spot without all of the tourists crowding up the area. The 15-foot falls connect to a lovely gorge that is easily explored in the winter. While you will have to get out of your car to see this one, it’s just a short walk down a very clear trail that leads you past the gorge and right up to the falls. Give yourself a little time to explore here – the entire area is picturesque!
Another beautiful waterfall you can walk behind safely, Dry Falls is 75 feet tall and flows over a cliff. Conveniently located just off US Highway 64, the observation deck for Dry Falls is connected to the parking area. The trail here is typically fairly safe, even in the winter. Railed stairs lead down to the fall and even all the way behind it. Sometimes it does freeze over, so you’ll want to check that out when you go, but typically Dry Falls is clear to walk behind. If the sun’s out, the light reflects brilliantly off the ice structures that form here.
Just a short drive from Dry Falls, you can hit Cullasaja Falls in the same winter road trip! This waterfall is a massive 250 feet, and unlike many of the others, it’s a sloping waterfall with all kinds of small cascades and flows, rather than one giant cascade. A beautiful cliffside drive on US Highway 64 takes you right to the small parking area, where you can easily see the falls. This is another waterfall that’s best to appreciate from the designated overview. There is a narrow trail down to the bottom of the falls, but it’s not official, and is very steep even in the summer. If you attempt this climb, you’ll want to be an experienced hiker with appropriate winter gear.
Whether you simply want to check out one or two of these waterfalls, or you’d like to make an entire winter waterfall trip out of it, these falls will not disappoint. A bonus is that since there aren’t many tourists in the winter, you’ll likely have the entire waterfall to yourself. How’s that for a peaceful adventure?
If you’re thinking Asheville, NC might be somewhere you’d like to live, be sure to check out the Couch Mountain community. We have brand new, developed homesites located in the mountains just minutes from downtown Asheville available now! For more information, give our office a call at 866-936-5263 or submit a request online today.