From Highlands, our route passes through the Cullasaja River Gorge. In the seven miles from Lake Sequoyah to below Cullasaja Falls, the tumultuous Cullasaja River loses 1,400 feet in elevation. Along the gorge lie two major waterfalls and numerous smaller falls and cascades. The scenic section of U.S. 64 paralleling the river through the gorge will make your spine tingle. After its completion in 1929, the Franklin Press called U.S. 64 probably the greatest scenic highway in all the state. Parts of the road were literally carved out of the sheer cliffs, leaving scarcely enough room for two vehicles to pass. Workers were lowered from above with ropes to drill holes for the dynamite.
Early in this route you drove over the top of a waterfall. Well, now you get to drive under one. That’s right: At Bridal Veil Falls a spur road passes behind the falls. It creates an opportunity to give your car a bath. A short distance from Bridal Veil Falls is Dry Falls. Here you can walk behind the falls, but don’t expect to stay dry unless the water is low.
Cullasaja River makes its final plunge over Cullasaja Falls before leaving the gorge and leveling out. What a final statement it makes! If the water level is up, this is about as good as it gets. On the other hand, the water level can drop so low that little more than a trickle flows over the falls, making it hardly worth stopping for. The viewpoint is right from the road, but be careful here. There is very little room to pull over and it’s on a blind curve. This may be the most dangerous highway situation in the mountains.
A sunstar shines in this view from behind Glen Falls in Nantahala National Forest.