- 61 miles (98 km)
- Allow 3 to 5 hours to tour this Byway.
Located in western North Carolina, this byway offers a year-round visual experience. The first part of this 61.3-mile trail travels through the Cullasaja Gorge, paralleling the Cullasaja River. Along this roadway, you will see beautiful waterfalls, such as Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls, and Cullasaja Falls. It's the perfect road for someone who wants a variety in their visit. See hardwood forests and deep gorges, with rural countryside for picnics along the way.
If you enjoy the water, canoeing, boating, rafting, fishing, swimming, and numerous other water sports await you. For an adventure, try whitewater rafting at the Nantahala River Gorge, or for a more peaceful experience, visit Fontana Lake for a fun-filled day of fishing, waterskiing, or boating.
There are also plenty of places to see by foot as well, such as the Rufus Morgan trails and the Cliffside Lake trails. Mountain Waters Scenic Byway offers both a scenic and recreational experience for those who want to enjoy the rural mountains of North Carolina.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Nantahala National Forest (NC)
This beautiful forest lies in the mountains and valleys of western North Carolina between Waynesville and Murphy. Elevations in the Nantahala National Forest range from a low of 1,200 feetalong the Tusquitee River below the Appalachian Dam in Cherokee County to a high of 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County. The Cheoah, Highlands, Tusquitee, and Wayah Ranger Districts form the Nantahala National Forest. Their headquarters are in several mountain communities, situated along the western recesses of the Appalachian Mountains. The Wayah District is located in Franklin,North Carolina.
With the exception of Highlands, the other three districts have taken their names from the Cherokee Indian language. Cheoah is the Cherokee word for otter, Tusquitee is Cherokee for where the water dogs laughed, and Wayah is Cherokee for wolf. Even the term Nantahala is a Cherokee Indian wordmeaning land of the noonday sun, a fitting name for the deep valleys and gorges where the sun only penetrates to the valley floor when directly overhead at noon. With over half a million acres, the Nantahala is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina.