Don’t underestimate the beauty of North Carolina in the summertime. Whitewater Falls is a diamond in the rough and worth a visit. The Falls are located near Sapphire, NC just north of the South Carolina border in the Nantahala National Forest.

One of the tallest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains, it tops out at 411 feet  and is well worth a stop. And anybody can get there to see it. Viewing spots are easily accessible from nearby parking areas, so you don't have to hike deep into the forest to get a look.

Adventure seekers can check out the nearby Foothills Trail. It’s downriver in South Carolina past the base of Corbin Creek Falls It's an intermediate trail and hard to follow in places so be careful.

But if you make the trip, don’t just drink in the sight of the falling waters, check out everything you can in the Nantahala National Forest. It’s a huge, historic tourism hot spot. Established in 1920, the sprawling forest encompasses more than 531,148 acres. It’s nestled in the mountains, valleys and rolling hills of western North Carolina and is far from flat. The elevations range from sea level to 5,800 feet in some spots.

The forest is divided into three parts: the Cheoah, the Tusquitee and the Nantahala. The Cheoah district is in Robbinsville, NC, the Tusquitee stretches in to Murphy, NC and the Nantahala is in Franklin, NC. The names are said to come from the Cherokee language. "Nantahala" means: "land of the noon day sun," a fitting name for the Nantahala Gorge, where the sun only reaches to the valley floor at midday.

If you’re not a hiker, don’t worry. There are a lot of other recreational activities. Every year 8.6 million people visit these forests and they’re never bored -- with more than 600 miles of trails you hike, bike, enjoy the scenery or go horse-back riding. Have fun and be safe!

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