Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Driving on NC's Scenic Highway 64

Hwy. 64 in North Carolina is a little state road that stretches across the state from east to west or as affectionately stated "from Murphy to Manteo" or "from the mountains to the coast."  Instead of just bypassing all of the beautiful sites like the major interstates, Hwy 64 takes the scenic route through the state.  We have driven almost all of it at one time or another.  It passes right by our new home as it makes its way around Raleigh to continue a northeasterly route towards the coast.  It also takes you to our state zoo in Asheboro, NC which is just about in the middle of the state.  The western part of the road takes you by some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state just outside of the trendy mountain vacation town of Highlands.  We had taken Evan to see these waterfalls on one of several trips to this part of the state in 2009.  At that time, my brother worked for a businessman with landholdings in the Cashiers, NC area.  He possessed several luxury mountain cabins that he hoped to turn into a mountain resort or at least sale to someone who would pay him big money to do so.  We went and stayed in these cabins a few times and enjoyed touring the area.  I had wanted to go back to see these waterfalls for some time so I begged Eddie to take the more scenic (and longer) drive home so that we could see them.  I knew they would look considerably different in winter than they did when we last visited in the Fall of 2009, but I wanted to try taking some better pictures of the waterfalls.  We might try driving back over there later in the year when we visit the Asheville area again, but the winter scenery around the waterfalls was still pretty spectacular.

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Highway 64 passes through the Nantahala and then the Pisgah National Forests between Murphy and Asheville. 
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One of the most beautiful sights on the drive during the winter is the ice formations along the smooth granite sides of the mountains where water running off the mountain freezes for most of the winter.  The granite rock is so smooth because that part of the mountain was blasted off to make way for the road to pass through.  You may need to click on the picture to view it larger to fully appreciate the beauty. 

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Can you see the guy climbing this giant smooth rock wall?  I didn't even notice him at the time and saw him when I downloaded the pictures from the camera.  Crazy! 

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As we entered the Cullasaja River Gorge, the first waterfall we saw was Cullasaja Falls.  In the warmer months, this little cascading waterfall that meanders down the mountain with a series of small drops is probably the most picturesque scene with the foliage of the mountain surrounding it.  In the winter months, it was probably the least exciting and the hardest to photograph. 

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Here is the comparison from our own pictures. 

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Here is my attempt to photograph the water with the smooth effect. 

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The next falls on our drive was Dry Falls.  The good thing about this drive is that all of the waterfalls can be seen from the road without the need to hike to them.  Dry Falls can be viewed from the road, but it is better to get out so that you can walk down and behind the falls.  It is called Dry Falls because you can actually walk behind the falls and stay "dry."  Of course, that wasn't the case at this time, and the walking path was closed because it was too slippery from frozen ice.  You can see the path that goes around behind the waterfall by the fence barrier that keeps visitors from falling in.  This falls does have a very heavy flow of water.   It was beautiful with all the snow and ice surrounding it. 
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We tried to take some pictures in front of this falls although we were higher up than the falls standing on an observation platform.  Don't let Eddie's bare arms deceive you about the temperature.  It was cold.  He's just crazy and didn't want to take the time to put on his coat. 

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Just a short drive further is another little roadside waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls.  I have since discovered that this is a very common name for waterfalls, and photographed the one in Yosemite National Park in California of the same name.  However, this one is a bit unique in that you can usually drive behind the falls.  It was closed because of the ice at this time, but in warmer months, the road meanders behind the falls under the outcropping of rock. I think the icy "stalactites" were the most beautiful part of this falls in winter. 

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Have you met my husband, the icicle murderer?  Haha!  My he has a big nose!
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The last waterfall on the drive in to Highlands is a manmade one on Lake Sequoyah. 

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I think it is still such a picturesque site. 
Thank you, husband, for indulging your wife's wish to revisit these old spots.  It was such a beautiful drive home!

2 comments:

  1. OMG, that crazy guy climbing up the ice! That is insane. I'm glad you mentioned it because I didn't really notice him until you did. I saw a black thing, but I thought it was just part of the rock sticking out. I'm feeling cold and scared just looking at him!

    I love the comparisons of the falls. It's cool that you took both pictures and it's awesome how different they look in summer vs winter.

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  2. Those are beautiful pictures Sherry! I can see why you wanted to take this drive again. I like the waterfalls in winter too. It's amazing to see the different ways in which the water freezes.

    And you know one of my dreams is to drive Route 66 and get off the beaten path so this speaks straight to my heart.

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