U.S. Route 64 is the longest numbered route in North Carolina, running 604 miles from the Tennessee state line to the Outer Banks. The route is often referenced "from Murphy to Manteo," referring to the expanse of the state. It dates back to the era of the Model T and snakes through the North Carolina mountains, by waterfalls, through gorges and some wonderful small towns.
Discover many artistic and cultural treasures along a 150-mile section of Highway 64 near Asheville, running from Morganton to Franklin. Most of this route is a winding, two-lane road. So allow more than 3.5 hours of driving time with no stops. So this could easily fill up a day (or two). If you begin in Franklin, the first 40 miles is part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, with many waterfalls along the way. And the North Carolina Waterfalls Byway follows this route.
Mile 0: Franklin is called the "Gem Capital of the World" with plenty of spots to pan for precious stones. Their quaint downtown is home to the Scotish Tartans Museum, Gem and Mineral Museum, shops, galleries and restaurants.
Mile 10: Bust Your Butt Falls is a popular roadside swimming spot.
Mile 16: Between Franklin and Highlands, walk behind Dry Falls (pic) and nearby Bridal Veil Falls (both are roadside).
Mile 20: Highlands is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, with an elevation of 4,118 ft. This popular summer mountain resort town is known for the many upscale shops and galleries downtown. A shopper's dream!
Mile 25: Whiteside Mountain is seen from Highway 64 in a dramatic fashion. Its cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. Just off the highway, you'll find a "moderate" two-mile loop hiking trail on top of sheer 750-ft. high cliffs. Enjoy a drive through Jackson County.
Mile 30: Cashiers is another summer resort town, centered at the intersection of NC Highway 107 and US Highway 64. Here you will find many quaint shops, nice restaurants and the Village Green, a 12-acre park in the middle of town. The park features great outdoor sculpture, walking paths, boardwalks over wetlands and beautiful gardens. Four miles to the south is Silver Run Falls.
Mile 32: Turn here for Panthertown Valley, with 30 miles of hiking and several waterfalls.
Mile 40: Gorges State Park (and Rainbow Falls) is just a mile south on NC Highway 281. Eight miles south is Upper Whitewater Falls.
Mile 42: Lake Toxaway is a beautiful lake. Stop on the bridge to see Toxaway Falls.
Mile 60: Brevard has a great downtown with lots of interesting shops, good restaurants and the White Squirrel Festival! It's also home to the stellar Brevard Music Center Summer Festival. Just off Highway 64 between Brevard and Hendersonville, hike to the waterfalls of DuPont State Forest.
Mile 80: Hendersonville's downtown is larger than Brevard's, with many top-notch restaurants and some great galleries. It's home to the NC Apple Festival. Just past Hendersonville, you will drive by many Apple Orchards that are open in the late summer and fall.
Mile 98: Chimney Rock Park features the famous rock outcropping, waterfall, hiking and many events throughout the year. The entrance to Chimney Rock is in the middle of the Village of Chimney Rock, with tourist shops.
Mile 100: Lake Lure sits in the Hickory Nut Gorge, surrounded by lush mountain tops and granite cliffs. Rent a boat or splash around the water on their beach!
Mile 118: Rutherfordton is a charming small town with a historic Main Street to explore.
Mile 150: Morganton has a busy downtown that's home to two popular breweries, so a perfect place to end your drive with a toast.