Upper Whitewater Falls, North Carolina

I always have a hard time choosing favorites. I like most waterfalls that I’ve seen, and each of them has it’s own unique qualities, whether big or small. Upper Whitewater Falls has the distinction of being one of my favorites, though. It’s a big waterfall, but that alone does not make it my favorite. I’ve seen waterfalls that are bigger (Multnomah Falls), but that doesn’t mean that they’re my favorites. There is a complexity about Upper Whitewater Falls that puts it in the top ten.

At 411′ tall, it is one of the larger waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. It’s not a straight 411′ drop, but instead a series of drops that add up to the total. This is what makes Upper Whitewater Falls so beautiful. It’s narrow and then it’s wide, and then narrows down again. At some points, there are actually three separate “waterfalls”, or at least the river splits into three. In the picture below, you can’t even see the whole falls because it’s so large.

There are at least two easily accessible viewpoints. One of the viewpoints is right near the parking lot, while the second is accessed from a walk down some stairs. There may be a third viewpoint at the base of the falls, though I’m guessing that this is more complicated!


  1. From US-64 in North Carolina, turn left onto NC-281.
  2. Head south on NC-281 to the entrance for Upper Whitewater Falls.
  3. After parking, pay the $2 entrance fee, which is definitely worth it. Then follow the paved trail to the upper view.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 411′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Upper Whitewater Falls (3)

Upper Whitewater Falls in March 2009

Where in the World is Upper Whitewater Falls?


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