State Parks of 
The High South

News: 2018: The High South begins to document and highlight the many great state parks located with an easy day trip from the Cashiers - Sapphire Valley Area. 
Gorges  | Nantahala

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Gorges State Park

Locates just minutes from Sapphire Valley and the Cashiers crossroads, this is one of the newest state parks in North Carolina!

Park Fact Sheet

Park Map

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Visitor Center

Gorges State Park offers a variety of learning opportunities for all ages. Typically led by park rangers, these interpretive programs allow the public to gain perspective into what makes North Carolina state parks naturally wonderful. ​

Most of the events are free, though some require pre-registration. All give park visitors deeper insight into the natural world. Call the park office for more information.

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Offering rugged terrain that will challenge any outdoors enthusiast, visitors who traverse the steep, backwoods trails of Gorges State Park will be rewarded with views of dazzling waterfalls or perhaps an encounter with one of the numerous rare species of the park. However, some of the more secluded areas of the park are not recommended for casual hiking.

Waterfalls, Access, Contacts

The Grassy Ridge Access off North Carolina Highway 281 in Sapphire is the park's primary access. This area is most well known for providing the principle access to Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls on the Horsepasture River. These falls are in the Pisgah National Forest, but it is not uncommon for visitors to mistakenly think the falls are inside the park because the park provides the only easy, legal access to them. Upper Bearwallow Falls is located in the access area, and it currently is the only waterfall in the park with a maintained trail leading to it.    Conent / Images: North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation / wikipedia, Images: CC BY-SA 4.0
Visit the Gorges State Park Web Site

Nantahala National Forest

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Nantahala National Forest

Southwest North Carolain

The Nantahala National Forest lies in the mountain and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. The largest of North Carolina's four National Forests, the Nantahala encompasses 531,148 acres with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along Hiwassee River.

Camping & Cabins
Horse Riding & Camping
Nature Viewing
OHV Riding & Camping
Outdoor Learning
Scenic Driving
Water Activities
Other Activities

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in the Nantahala

Enjoy camping or a picnic at one of the many day-use areas. A list of camping and day-use areas in the Nantahala National Forest can be found [here].

There is nothing quite like spending an evening away from home at one of America’s thousands of public land recreational area campsites. Whether you seek the solitude of a backcountry camping site or a convenient place for you and your family to pitch a tent or park an RV, there are plenty of places to camp in our parks, national seashores, lakeshores, forests and wilderness areas. Campsite fees, visitation fees and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. In some cases, campsites can be reserved in advance.

For reservations, call 877-444-6777 or visit

You can call the ranger station if you have additional questions about facilities and activities.

Our Tax Dollars at work! Content: 
USDA: Forest Service

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Waterfalls and Safety

Waterfalls are popular places for viewing, picnicking and wading. While beautiful to see, they often pose  risks to unprepared visitors. 
[Waterfall Safety Checklist]