6 Natural Wonders in North Carolina

With one side against the Atlantic Ocean and the other tucked into the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse natural wonders in North America. There are many must-see spots in this long-overlooked state that are seldom recognized for their natural beauty.

1. Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls Upper Falls. Image credit Scott Alan Ritchie via Shutterstock

Running through both North and South Carolina, the Whitewater River is home to the largest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains. Whitewater Falls, located in North Carolina, is one of the most stunning features found in the Appalachian Mountains. Visiting these falls can serve as a great day trip for both tourists and locals alike.

The observation deck overlooking the falls makes finding the perfect spot to take photos and videos easy and straightforward. For those looking for a challenge, there is also a hiking trail that leads to the top of the falls themselves. As a warning, this trail is only for experienced hikers. 

The park is open all year round from dawn until dusk making Whitewater Falls one of the most accessible natural wonders in North Carolina. 

2. Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock in Western North Carolina Near Brevard in the Fall. Image credit Jill Lang via Shutterstock

Sliding Rock is one of the more unique attractions on this list, found in the majestic Pisgah National Forest, near the towns of  Brevard and Asheville. As the name would suggest, Sliding Rock is a naturally occurring water slide. 

A far cry from the crowded and overpriced water parks found in the city, Sliding Rock serves as a much more modest, quiet, and affordable time. If you are wanting to experience something "outside of the box," this 60-foot-long water slide is a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

Weather permitting, the attraction is open from April to October; just remember to bring your five-dollar entrance fee.

3. Linville Caverns

You will find a lot more than just rock formations at the Linville Caverns. Photo credit: Sarraf Ahmed via Unsplash

Not ideal for the claustrophobic, the Linville Caverns remains to be one of the most impressive cave systems in the US. Located deep inside Humpback Mountain, the caverns are a truly awesome display of beauty that you will have a hard time finding elsewhere. 

Dominated by towering stalactites and stalagmites these caves will make most visitors feel transported onto another planet. 

Stunning geographical features are not the only thing to look for either. The Linville Caverns are home to many animals including hibernating bats and even fish that traverse through the many small streams that snake through the caves. Entrance, along with a guided tour of Linville will only set you back around 12 dollars per person.

4.  The Outer Banks

Wild horses of the Outer Banks, NC in the sand dunes. Image credit Heart Mountain Homestead via Shutterstock

The natural beauty of North Carolina is usually associated with its connection to the Appalachian Mountains thus leaving its stunning Atlantic Coast often ignored. The Outer Banks is host is endless miles of tranquil beaches, sleepy seaside villages, and lovely ocean views. 

The Outer Banks is a small island chain that stretches across the coast of the entire state. Far away from cities and crowds, the Outer Banks serves as a perfect getaway for couples and families. 

While there is no single must-see attraction in the Outer Banks, the overall atmosphere of the islands is so different from the mainland that everyone, especially locals should go and see it for themselves.

5.  French Broad River

French Broad River NC rapids. Image credit BAHud via Shutterstock

One of the oldest rivers in the world, the French Broad River dominates the geography of western North Carolina. Winding through the many mountains and valleys, the French Broad River is the perfect addition to an already astounding landscape. 

Due to its incredible age, countless creeks and streams have formed from the French Broad River. Every manner of water activity is at your disposal. Fishing, swimming, and boating are all popular past times for the locals.

There is nothing more North Carolina than spending a warm summer's day floating along the French Broad River.

6. Looking Glass Rock

Looking Glass Rock during the autumn season. Image credit Sean Pavone via Shutterstock

Made up of millions of years' worth of volcanic rock, the world-famous Looking Glass Rock is truly a sight to behold. Tranquil, green-covered mountains stretch to the horizon as far as the eye can see.

Looking Glass rises above an already stellar landscape and outshines the competition. Located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is easily accessible for those who are daring enough to make the trip.

The park itself is about a three-hour drive from Charlotte, making this destination more of a commitment than some of the other natural wonders. However, this certainly should not stop you from experiencing what many feel is the best natural wonder in North Carolina.

Summary

While many look to western states like Colorado and Utah to escape to the great outdoors, there are still many wonders in places like North Carolina. Home to countless natural wonders and outdoor activities, North Carolina is criminally underrated whenever the topic of natural beauty comes up. Go see for yourself.

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