From NC 106 in Highlands, drive 3.15 miles west on US 64 to the parking area on the left.
Follow the obvious paved path from the lower end of the parking area down to the falls. A new handicapped-accessible boardwalk also leads from the parking area to a viewpoint for the falls.
The idea is to walk behind the falls without getting wet—hence the name Dry Falls. Sounds good, but try to do so when the water’s up and you’ll call it Drenched Falls. The waterfall is among the most popular in the region, so you can expect company unless you arrive early in the morning. Visit on a weekend in the tourist season and you’ll have to wait for a parking space.
Since the last edition of my North Carolina Waterfalls book, the Forest Service has built a new parking area complete with odoriferous toilets. The trail to the falls has been upgraded, and there is a new handicapped-accessible viewing platform. Another change is that visitors no longer have to pay an access fee for the falls.
The Forest Service has also built a metal fence blocking access to the top of the falls. If you’re thinking you might try to slip around the fence, know that the brink of Dry Falls is exceedingly dangerous and has claimed several lives. I shot some of the photos included here from the brink of the falls before the new metal fencing was installed. I used a rope and harness for safety, and also secured my tripod with a rope.
If you attempt to duplicate the photos I shot from the brink of Dry Falls and you are not an experienced climber using rope and harness, you will likely go over the falls and die. You’ll also have to disobey the many signs posted by the Forest Service, although that will be the least of your worries. I’ve never heard of the Forest Service issuing a citation to a corpse.
The waterfall has been called Dry Falls forever, but it has also gone by other names in years past, among them High Falls, Pitcher Falls, and Cullasaja Falls.