10 Amazing Natural Wonders Hiding In Plain Sight In North Carolina — No Hiking Required
North Carolina is filled with beauty of all shapes and sizes, from natural wonders to some of the highest waterfalls on the east coast. Much of this beauty though isn’t easily accessed and requires some hiking or perhaps a long drive or ferry ride. While we can’t always easily check some destinations off our bucket list, these ten are right here for the taking.
1. Chimney Rock
While Chimney Rock can be easily viewed from the surrounding scenery, it's one of those places that does indeed deserve a day trip. Read our comprehensive guide
2. Looking Glass Rock
This stunning formation composed of whiteside granite was formed some 390 million years ago. Today, you can easily view it from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Looking Glass is referred to as a pluton because the large ball of granite rock would have become a volcano had it not cooled before reaching the Earth's surface. Today, the name derives from the fact that when rain freezes on the rock, it reflects the sun like a mirror.
3. Jockey's Ridge
The largest active sand dune on the east coast is conveniently right here. Be mesmerized from afar, feel like you've found the Sahara Desert when inching closer, or take in all the coastal views from the top.
4. Mount Mitchell
As the highest point east of the Mississippi, the greatest part about Mount Mitchell is you can drive to the top. Once you park, you just have a short, yet brisk walk to the large overlook. It's truly a one-of-a-kind place, with easy accessibility. Disclaimer: a recent rockslide has closed off a portion of the Parkway between Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell, so check the roads before you plan to go!
5. Dry Falls
This beautiful walk behind waterfall is a favorite destination of many. The best part is that you can drive right up to the overlook and take it all in. While you MUST walk behind the waterfall if able, it's still breathtaking from a distance, too. Read my comprehensive guide to visiting Dry Falls
6. Bridal Veil Falls
And just a hop, skip, and a jump away - you can enjoy Bridal Veil Falls without ever even getting out of your car! The waterfalls flows off a rocky outcrop onto an enclosed section off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
7. Pilot Mountain
From country roads to U.S. 52, Pilot Mountain catches your eye throughout the Piedmont region of the state. One great alternative to visiting is driving to the summit, you can still trek through forested areas and even to some rocky drop offs with great views. Pilot Mountain is one of the few remaining mountains in the ancient Sauratown Mountain chain.
8. The Quarry at Carrigan Farms
What was new news to many, and to me, was published last week in my piece about this amazing
sapphire-blue quarry pool
open for public swims. While dates vary and admission is $12 per person, it's worth at least the one time experience.
9. Blowing Rock
All you have to do is park your car and walk over to the only place in the world where "snow falls upside down." The rock dates back to 1,055 million years ago! Today, it sits at 4,000 ft. above sea level and dangles over Johns River Gorge at 3,000 ft. A particular current of air that flows upwards from the rock has attracted everything from legends to science. Read the full story of Blowing Rock and plan your trip with our guide
10. Shadow of the Bear
Twice a year, in autumn and spring, the shadow of the bear takes form over Whiteside Mountain. This incredible, natural phenomenon is visible at US 64 at Rhodes Big View Overlook, and in the evening.
Which one is first on your list? I’ve seen a few but want to see them all!
For another, stunning natural wonder in North Carolina that you can choose to hike to or enjoy from the overlook, visit the
Grand Canyon of the East.
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