Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
North Carolina has only one known natural hot spring, so your options are extremely limited if you’re looking for a dip in warm, tranquil waters.
What North Carolina lacks in hot springs, however, it makes up for in natural springs. So, if you don’t mind slightly cooler waters, there are plenty of beautiful waterways that you can visit to unwind and relax.
Whether you’re visiting North Carolina or a local in need of respite, here are ten natural hot and cool springs in the state that you won’t want to miss.
Situated along the Cape Fear River in Wallace is the Deep Bottom Springs. And what makes the area so great is that on one side of the river, you’ll experience a sandy beach-like area that is ideal for soaking up the sun, while the other boasts an extremely deep spring that is perfect for unwinding—hence the name.
Although Deep Bottom won’t provide you with warmth, it is a great North Carolina natural spring option for those looking to beat the heat.
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just a short distance from Bryson City, is Deep Creek, one of North Carolina’s most breathtaking natural springs. Plus, the natural springs aren’t the only attraction, as the area surrounding them boasts three waterfalls that you can conveniently access on the 2.4-mile Waterfall Loop.
Although people often flock to the area to wade in the waters, Deep Creek has also become a popular spot for tubing, with tube rentals on site for the public to make use of.
So whether you prefer to jump off rocks, enjoy the bubbles the natural spring provides, or take in the stunning vistas that surround the pockets of water, Deep Creek is a natural spring not to be missed.
Elf River Falls
Elk River Falls is famous for its beauty, so if you’re after a day of relaxation, there really is no place better. With an impressive mountain waterfall that stands at a height of 50 feet, a hiking trail that is easy to navigate, and cool, refreshing water that you’ll dream about all summer, you really will be planning your next trip back as soon as possible.
Hooker Falls in the DuPont State Forest is a great natural spring option for those in search of a relaxing swimming experience with very few people around. The spring’s cascading waterfall that produces a stunning backdrop is one of North Carolina’s best-kept secrets, and as the water is easily accessible thanks to a 1.4-mile hiking trail, you can be cooling off in no time surrounded by stunning nature and unmatched tranquillity.
Hot Mineral Springs
You can find the only hot springs in North Carolina in Madison County and let me tell you, these springs that are surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest are well worth a visit.
People have flocked to Hot Springs for centuries to enjoy the therapeutic benefits that come with wading in the warm natural mineral waters. And although the springs have become a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike, they’re a one-of-a-kind attraction in North Carolina and one you shouldn’t miss off your bucket list.
Looking Glass Falls
For an easy-to-access North Carolina natural springs option, look no further than the Looking Glass Falls. Looking Glass Falls is conveniently located alongside US 276, and its impressive 60-foot waterfall is a sight that everyone should witness.
The natural pool that forms at the base of the waterfall ultimately provides visitors with an area to splash around, refresh in the cool waters, and release all negative energy that has been harboring inside them.
The Great Smoky Mountains is also home to Midnight Hole, an emerald lagoon with some of the clearest waters you’ll find in North Carolina. Getting to the water, however, isn’t an easy fret, and it will require a fairly difficult hike that spans over 2.8 miles.
Understandably, you will work up a sweat getting to Midnight Hole, but the icy cold waters that will greet you at the end will be the motivation you need to keep on going. Just be sure to pack dry clothes, plenty of towels, and maybe even a wet suit as when we say icy cold, we truly mean it.
Skinny Dip Falls
If you’ve set off on a road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, then you’ll be happy to know that at Milepost 417, you can stretch your legs and refresh in the Skinny Dip Falls that is roughly a ¾ mile hike from the Parkway overlook.
Skinny Dip Falls has a six-foot-deep pool, a rock that you can jump off, and a stunning waterfall that cascades into the waters below. And don’t worry, despite its name, visitors swim with their clothes on.
Sliding Rock in the Pisgah National Forest has become a popular spot for families thanks to its natural swimming hole and smooth mountain waterfall that adults and kids can slide down.
To add to the adrenaline rush of sliding down the falls, the area surrounding Sliding Rock is truly breathtaking, making it the perfect destination for those in search of time out in nature.
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls, nestled in the Nantahala National Forest, is a hidden gem that is just a short walk away from the highway. As you hike through the dense forest, you’ll be met with an impressive 50-foot waterfall and serene pools that are safe for wading. The rocks around the falls can become extremely slippery, so exercise caution when navigating the area.