NCNatural's Nantahala National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
Waterfalls, Lakes and Rivers


Water in the mountains comes deep and wide, or fast and "on the rocks". The Nantahala National Forest is blessed by numerous lakes, plus hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, including two nationally recognized wild and scenic rivers.

Santeelah, and Fontana are large, popular lakes for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Recreation areas, beside the lakes, provide camping, picnicking, and boat ramps.

In the Tusquitee District, three reservoirs in beautiful mountain settings provide a playground for recreation enthusiasts. Hiwassee Lake, Chatuge Lake, and Appalachia Lake offer boating, water skiing, fishing, and swimming, as well as a quiet place to relax and enjoy nature’s wonders. Chatuge Lake is excellent for sailing and also has a swimming beach at Jackrabbit recreation area. The Hiwassee and Appalachia Lakes are located west of Murphy, along the Hiwassee River. Chatuge Lake spans the Georgia-North Carolina State line, south of Hayesville.

Swimming is also available at Cliffside Lake in the Highlands District. It is a small lake with a picnic area and campground nearby.

A trip down one of the whitewater rivers of western North Carolina is bound to be a wet, wild experience. Whether you're an experienced paddler or a novice, there's an adventure waiting for you. Commercial river outfitters cam help plan a trip to fit your skill level and provide any equipment you might need.

The Nantahala River is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the country, drawing over 250,000 boaters every year. With the river right beside US 19, south of Bryson City, the Nantahala provides a whitewater experience that's fun to watch, as well as to do. An overlook and walkway gives spectators a thrilling view of boaters running the final series of rapids and a small waterfall before the take-out point.


There's something magical about watching the crystal clear water of a mountain stream dancing over the rocks. the sense of awe magnifies as the water tumbles faster and wilder, until it plunges over a cliff. Perhaps you're drawn to waterfalls because you can't see them just anywhere, or maybe there's something about being near the awesome power of falling water that's so enticing.

Whatever it is, there's a real danger in getting too close to waterfalls. Wet rocks are often slick, and a slip above a waterfall can be FATAL. With care and common sense, you can safely experience the sight and sounds of these spectacular waterfalls;

Highlands Area

Franklin Area

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