A Jewel of a Waterfall – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For the last few days we have been enjoying the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. These two adjacent national parks are enormous, and it can be a little overwhelming to figure out how to see it all.

Falls at Smoky Mountains North Carolina

A spectacular waterfall we “discovered” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are waterfalls and hikes and biking loops and all kinds of things to see and do — not to mention a bunch of visitors centers to help you get oriented! Just getting from one side of the park to the other can take a few hours of driving (especially if you stop to take pics all the time!).

great smoky mountains national park oconaluftee river

As usual, we gathered lots of reading material and went over it all with the folks at the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, trying to come up with a sightseeing strategy. How to get started?? Hmmm…

cascading waterfall in Great Smoky Mountain National Park North Carolina

We did a few drives and saw some lovely things, but these two sprawling parks didn’t really capture our hearts until one afternoon when we accidentally bumped into a true jewel by the side of the main road that scales the peaks of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Oconaluftee waterfall Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We were just driving along when out of the corner of our eyes we spotted a fabulous waterfall cascading down the vivid green hillside.

waterfall on oconaluftee river great smoky mountains national park

Mark did a quick U-turn, and we rushed back to find a place to park so we could run out and see this gorgeous waterfall up close.

North Carolina Oconaluftee River Waterfall

Before I jumped out, I scanned the maps, but there was no mention of this glorious waterfall anywhere. And there were no road signs marking this stunning gem either. There was barely room for a three or four cars to park!

Smoky Mountains National Park waterfall

We scampered up the steep, muddy trail alongside the waterfall. The stunning cascade went up and up and up, disappearing into the lush green woods high above the highway. We followed the lure of pretty arcs of water washing over moss covered rocks until we felt like we were in the treetop canopy.

waterfall Great Smoky Mountains National Park North Carolina

What a discovery!! We clambered around and took photos for hours, thoroughly enjoying this perfect, unnamed and unsung showpiece in this mammoth park.

closeup waterfall Oconaluftee River

We’ve been reading up on all the waterfalls there are in the Smokies and along the Blue Ridge Parkway — there are dozens — and we’ve checked the photos of them all. But this unknown one keeps calling us back. It is so beautifully balanced, with water tumbling down a magnificent pattern of rocks. There is no doubt that this was one designed by a divine hand.

So far we’ve visited three times!!

sitting by waterfall in smoky mountains north carolina

If you take your RV to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, I’m sure there are loads of beautiful waterfalls to see — we’ll be finding out in the coming days and weeks and reporting back about what we find. But be sure to check out this unmarked beauty.

From Cherokee, North Carolina, the waterfall is located 8.5 miles west of the Oconaluftee Visitors Center on Newfound Gap Road on the left hand (south) side. You won’t see it as you drive west from the visitors center, but if you drive out about 10 miles and then turn around and come back east (towards the visitors center) slowly, you’ll see it flowing oh-so-happily on the right.

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2 thoughts on “A Jewel of a Waterfall – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  1. Thanks for telling about these falls we would never have seen them if not for you and it was great meeting you today. Safe travels and keep writing.

    • Thank you so much for stopping to chat with us on the trail today, Dale & Linda. What a neat surprise! Have a blast in the Smokies and good luck with your future planning. Maybe we’ll meet up again down the road if and when you become full-timers!!!

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