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Guide to Beautiful North Carolina Sights near Nantahala Lake

There is a lot of beauty in western North Carolina. From the lush forest to the majestic mountains, there's a lot you can see when you rent a cabin from stayNantahala. Taking a drive or a hike to these various locations can help you better connect with nature and see all the Tarheel State has to offer. Explore North Carolina scenery and attractions with our guide to scenic spots near Nantahala Lake.

Nantahala Lake

What better place to start than the gorgeous lake just outside of your stayNantahala cabin rental. Nantahala Power Company created Nantahala Lake, which is the Cherokee word for "Land of the Noon Day Sun," in 1942. The lake has crystal-clear water and some lush trees that surround the body of water. Whether you're looking at the lake from above or from the shore, this is truly an idyllic spot in western North Carolina.

Wayah Bald

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 12.2 miles

Wayah Bald sits just east of Nantahala Lake. It stands at 5,342 feet in elevation and offers spectacular views of the Nantahala National Forest and the surrounding mountains. What makes this mountaintop so iconic is the three-story stone tower that serves as a lookout point. To reach Wayah Bald, you'll need to hike to its summit via the Appalachian Trail or the Bartram Trail.

Cullasaja River Gorge

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 31.1 miles

Venturing into the Cullasaja River Gorge is truly a sight to behold. The Waterfall Byway runs through the gorge, which connects Franklin and highlands, North Carolina. There are also three major waterfalls along this path including Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls and the 250-foot Cullasaja Falls. The area is known for its waterfalls and this scenic drive features a picturesque view of some iconic North Carolina scenery.

Lake Santeetlah

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 35.4 miles

Lake Santeetlah is a hidden gem in western North Carolina. There is not much development around this lake, meaning it's scenery is practically untouched. Large forests surround this pristine body of water as about 80% of the 76-mile shoreline is in the Nantahala National Forest. Furthermore, the Great Smoky Mountains loom in the distance, adding to the already idyllic look of Lake Santeetlah.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 40.2 miles

Take a trip into the history of western North Carolina with a stroll through Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. The eponymous Joyce Kilmer wrote the poem "Trees" in 1913. The trees of this 3,800-acre forest are large and are as old as 450 years old. Many of them stand over 100 feet tall and 20 feet in circumference. There are two loops you can hike on, making this a great place to spend the day and enjoy nature.

You can learn more by reading our article about the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.

Road to Nowhere

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 41.6 miles

While the locals of Swain County call it the Road to Nowhere, it is actually Lakeview Drive in Bryson City. You can either drive this route or take a bike ride on it. It also provides access to many hiking trails and serves as an overlook for Fontana Lake. This route is particularly scenic during the fall when the leaves change colors. The road ends with a quarter-mile tunnel that yields to the Lakeshore Trail.

Clingmans Dome

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 69.9 miles

Great Smoky Mountains National Parks features a lot of idyllic spots but Clingmans Dome is one of the best. It is the highest point in the park and sits along the iconic Appalachian Trail. It sits right on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, offering exquisite views of the mountains and nearby cities. On a clear day, you can see for 100 miles. There is a road you can drive on to reach the observation tower or you can take a hike to the pinnacle.

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