Cedar Mountain, NC
As of November 2007
National Forest Service
doing construction at site
Dry Falls are definitely unusual. You can actually walk behind them and stay more-or-less dry. The 80-foot high falls explode as a free-falling wall of water down to a rocky gorge below. Very popular, very touristy...but very worth it. You can avoid the crowds if you go there earlier in the morning. During winter, the rock-paved path down to the falls can be treacherously icy (speaking from personal experience).
Another word of caution: I read in the Highlands, NC paper about a woman who nearly died of hypothermia after she fell at Dry Falls on Dec. 16, 2001. According to a Forest Service ranger, she decided to climb under the security fence to get a view of the falls from the base. She made it safely to the bottom and soaked in the scene until dusk. As dark approached, the woman found that she was unable to climb back up the steep and spray-soaked Cullasaja River Gorge walls. After spending the night on the rocks above the frigid waters, she was rescued by EMS the next morning when visitors to the falls noticed her lying below. She was released from the hospital on Dec. 31 after spending several days in ICU. Folks, there's a reason there are fences and overlooks at waterfalls. It's for your own safety.
Directions: From Highlands, proceed 3.3 miles on US 64 toward Franklin. Look for National Forest signs on the left indicating something of interest ahead. What's on the signs are obscured by the railing, and the steep pull-offs into the parking lot are not obvious. Pay the small parking fee and follow the path 100 yards down to the falls.
All photos © Allen Easler.