Waterfall Byway Scenic Drive – Highway 64 NC


The North Carolina Waterfall Byway Scenic Drive winds 98 miles through Western North Carolina, and received its name from the more than 200 waterfalls along the route.  

The Waterfall Byway follows Highway 64 from Rosman, NC to Murphy, NC, and takes you through Transylvania County, more commonly called “The Land of Waterfalls”.  

The full drive takes approximately 3.5 hours.

Cullasaja Falls NC from the Parking Area
Cullasaja Falls NC from the Parking Area

Waterfall Byway Scenic Drive Map

Waterfall Byway Scenic Drive – Walkthrough

The Waterfall Byway begins at the intersection of North Carolina 215 (part of the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway) and Highway 64, just outside of Rosman, NC.  The drive along Highway 64 will provide scenic views, waterfalls, and visits to some popular and unique small towns in Western NC.  Be sure to take your time, and enjoy all the wonderful things this drive has to offer.

The views along this particular scenic byway are fantastic in the Fall.

Here’s the full walkthrough of the Waterfall Byway Scenic Drive along North Carolina’s famous Highway 64:

  • Take Highway 64 West out of Rosman NC, where you’ll soon cross the famous French Broad River.
  • Go an additional 7 miles, where you’ll cross the Toxaway River at Toxaway Falls.  The falls will be on your right under the bridge, and Lake Toxaway on your right.
  • 3 miles past Toxaway Falls is the small resort town of Sapphire.  For a side excursion, head south on Highway 281 to Gorges State Park where you can hike to Rainbow and Turtleback Falls.  Drive a little further down Highway 281 for Whitewater Falls.

  • Cashiers, NC is about 10 miles past Toxaway Falls.  Cashiers is a great place to stop take a break.  Pronounced “Cashers” by locals, Cashiers is one of the oldest resort towns in the area.
  • From Cashiers, continue West along Highway 64 for 12 very windy miles to Highlands, NC.  Highlands is the highest incorporated community on the East Coast, at 4,118 feet in elevation.   Highlands is a neat town, plan to spend some time here shopping and looking around.
  • Continue West on Highway 64, and cross Lake Sequoyah at the outskirts of Highlands and continue for two miles to the Bridal Veil Falls, a 120 foot tall and roadside waterfall.   Pull over, and walk under the falls for a refreshing natural shower.  In the past you could drive under this waterfall, but it is now closed to cars and motorcycles.

Bridal Veil Falls NC Highlands

  • A little further down you’ll pass by Dry Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Dry Falls has amble parking, bathrooms, and a handicap friendly upper viewing platform.  If you walk down to the Falls along the short trail, you can walk behind the waterfall.  Dry Falls is named for the ability to talk behind it and remain dry.

Dry Falls NC

  • Continue West on Highway 64.  Six miles past Dry Falls, you’ll enter Cullasaja Gorge.  The road here will narrow, and cling to steep cliffs that form the gorge.
  • Four miles from Dry Falls, is Cullasaja Falls, which is viewable from the small and narrow parking area.  The waterfall drops 310 feet into the gorge.  While viewing the falls, watch for Falcons that inhabit this area.

Cullasaja Falls NC

  • The community of Gneiss is 2 miles past Cullasaja Falls.  Gneiss is known for a the treaty council held here between Sir Alexander Cuming and the Cherokee Indians in 1730.
  • Take U.S. 64 West/U.S. 23/441 South for 7.5 miles to Cartoogechaye, then another 4 miles to Winding Stair Gap, one of the earliest western passages along the famous Appalachian Trail.
  • The next 10 miles will take you along along the ridge lines of the Chunky Gal Mountains.  There are numerous scenic views and overlooks here.
  • 4 miles east of Hayesville, you’ll pass Lake Chatuge, and TDA lake, that is now part of the Hiawasee River.  Hayesville contains Fort Hembree, a gathering place for Cherokee Indians before they were forced to leave for Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears”.
  • Continue for another 6 miles, and turn left onto Settawig Road (SR1135).  Travel it for 2.5 miles to Brasstown.
  • Next, turn right onto Old U.S. 64.  You’ll have two options from here: 1) Continue on Old US 64 to the intersection of US 64, then turn left to go another four miles into the town of Murphy, NC or 2) Turn left onto Brasstown Road (SR 1564) from Old US 64, then follow it briefly before turning right onto Harshaw Road. Take Harshaw Rd for 6.5 miles to Murphy, NC.
  • Option 1 will take you through beautiful forest, mountain views, and across the largest single steel span bridge ever built in NC, measuring 331 feet across.

Find more North Carolina Scenic Byways in the NC DOT Scenic Byway Guide.


About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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