The Most Beautiful Nature in North Carolina: Exploring the Breathtaking Landscapes

Choose the natural you think is the most beautiful!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Sep 12, 2023 05:58
Discover the enchanting beauty of North Carolina as we invite you to explore and rank the most breathtaking natural wonders this charming state has to offer. From the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains to the serene Outer Banks, North Carolina is a treasure trove of picturesque landscapes waiting to be unraveled. Join thousands of nature enthusiasts in our quest to unveil the most beautiful nature spots in North Carolina by participating in our StrawPoll ranking. Come, cast your vote for your favorite locale or suggest a hidden gem that deserves recognition. Together, let's embark on a captivating journey through North Carolina's awe-inspiring scenery and uncover the best-kept secrets of this nature lover's paradise!

What Is the Most Beautiful Nature in North Carolina? (September 2023)

  1. 1
    Blue Ridge Mountains
    Jan van der Crabben (Photographer) · CC BY-SA 2.0
    The stunning range offers breathtaking views, hiking opportunities, and scenic drives.
    The Blue Ridge Mountains is a picturesque mountain range located in the eastern United States, specifically in the state of North Carolina. These mountains are a part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range and are renowned for their beauty and natural splendor.
    • Highest peak: Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet)
    • Length: 469 miles
    • States: North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia
    • National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park
    • Major cities: Asheville and Boone
    Blue Ridge Mountains in other rankings
  2. 2
    The barrier islands on the Atlantic coast have pristine beaches, dunes, and historic lighthouses.
    The Outer Banks is a popular beach destination in North Carolina known for its stunning natural beauty and rich history. It is a series of barrier islands stretching along the eastern coast of the state, separated from the mainland by the sounds and inlets. The pristine beaches, sand dunes, and clear blue waters make it a paradise for beach lovers.
    • Location: Along the eastern coast of North Carolina
    • Size: Approximately 200 miles long and 30 miles wide
    • Barrier Islands: Consists of a chain of barrier islands
    • Wildlife: Home to diverse wildlife including wild horses, sea birds, and marine life
    • Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Includes over 70 miles of protected coastline
    Outer Banks in other rankings
  3. 3
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    Scott Basford · CC BY-SA 3.0
    The park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and is home to diverse wildlife, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a breathtaking national park located in the United States, straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is renowned for its majestic mountain range, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural history. The park gets its name from the enchanting smoky haze that often blankets the mountains, creating a mystical and awe-inspiring atmosphere. With its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is considered one of the most beautiful national parks in America.
    • Location: Tennessee and North Carolina, United States
    • Size: 522,427 acres (2,114.15 kmĀ²)
    • Elevation: Clingmans Dome, the highest point, reaches 6,643 feet (2,025 m)
    • Mountain Range: The Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains
    • Biodiversity: Home to over 1,500 species of plants and countless animals, including black bears and elk
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park in other rankings
  4. 4
    Pisgah National Forest
    Ken Thomas · Public domain

    Pisgah National Forest

    United States Forest Service
    The forest covers over 500,000 acres and contains numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic drives.
    Pisgah National Forest is a stunning natural area located in western North Carolina. It is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. The forest spans over 500,000 acres, offering visitors access to numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, rivers, and mountaintop vistas.
    • Location: Western North Carolina
    • Size: Over 500,000 acres
    • Ecosystems: Diverse ecosystems including hardwood forests, high elevation spruce-fir forests, and grassy balds
    • Hiking Trails: Extensive network of trails for various skill levels
    • Waterfalls: Numerous picturesque waterfalls
    Pisgah National Forest in other rankings
  5. 5
    Also known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," the gorge offers stunning views, hiking, and rock climbing opportunities.
  6. 6
    Chimney Rock State Park
    Jmturner · Public domain

    Chimney Rock State Park

    North Carolina State Parks
    The park features a 315-foot granite monolith and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
    Chimney Rock State Park is a breathtaking natural attraction located in North Carolina. It is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers visitors stunning views and unparalleled natural beauty. The park is named after its most prominent feature, Chimney Rock, a 315-foot granite monolith that towers above the surrounding landscape. It was established in 2005 and has since become a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
    • Location: Chimney Rock, North Carolina
    • Size: 5,700 acres
    • Elevation: 1,200-2,800 feet
    • Trails: Over 6 miles of hiking trails
    • Waterfalls: Hickory Nut Falls, featuring a 404-foot cascade
  7. 7
    Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    Vbofficial · Public domain
    The seashore offers miles of undeveloped beaches, sand dunes, and opportunities for surfing, fishing, and birdwatching.
    Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a stunning natural gem located along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It stretches over 70 miles and encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems, including pristine beaches, salt marshes, dunes, and maritime forests. The seashore is known for its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich history.
    • Location: Outer Banks, North Carolina
    • Size: 75 miles (121 km) long
    • Beaches: Vast stretches of untouched, unspoiled shoreline
    • Lighthouses: Home to the Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island, and Ocracoke Lighthouses
    • Wildlife: Habitat for a wide variety of birds, sea turtles, dolphins, and other marine life
  8. 8
    Jockey's Ridge State Park
    Zach Rudisin · CC BY-SA 3.0
    The park features the tallest sand dune on the East Coast and offers hiking, hang gliding, and kite flying.
  9. 9
    Lake Lure
    Kapil Chalil Madathil · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Lake Lure

    Lake Lure Company
    The pristine lake surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains was the filming location for the movie "Dirty Dancing."
    Lake Lure is a picturesque lake located in the scenic mountainous region of North Carolina. Nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge, this man-made lake offers stunning natural beauty and attracts visitors from all over. The clear blue waters, surrounded by lush greenery, make it a popular spot for outdoor activities and relaxation.
    • Location: North Carolina
    • Size: 720 acres
    • Depth: up to 110 feet
    • Water Source: Rocky Broad River
    • Surface Elevation: approximately 922 feet
    Lake Lure in other rankings
  10. 10
    The mountain offers stunning views, hiking trails, and is home to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.
    Grandfather Mountain is a majestic peak located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It is renowned for its stunning vistas, rugged terrain, and diverse ecosystems. The mountain is part of the larger Grandfather Mountain State Park, which offers visitors a variety of outdoor experiences including hiking, wildlife viewing, and camping. Grandfather Mountain stands out for its iconic profile, featuring rugged cliffs, deep valleys, and a distinct profile that resembles the face of a bearded man. The mountain also boasts a famous swinging bridge, which is a popular attraction for visitors. Overall, Grandfather Mountain is a natural treasure that captivates all who visit.
    • Elevation: 5,946 feet (1,812 meters)
    • Prominence: 2,289 feet (697 meters)
    • Location: Linville, North Carolina, United States
    • Mountain Range: Blue Ridge Mountains
    • State Park Area: 2,456 acres (993 hectares)
    Grandfather Mountain in other rankings

Missing your favorite natural?


Ranking factors for beautiful nature

  1. Scenery
    The overall visual appeal and beauty of the landscape, including picturesque views, vibrant colors, and the variety of natural features such as mountains, hills, forests, waterfalls, coastlines, and rivers.
  2. Diversity
    The abundance and variety of flora and fauna found in the region, including native plants, wildlife, and ecosystems. This can also include the presence of unique geological features.
  3. Seasonal beauty
    The attractiveness of the region during different seasons, such as the beauty of fall foliage, spring blooms, or winter snowscapes.
  4. Accessibility
    The ease of access to the area and the availability of hiking trails, viewpoints, or other recreational opportunities for locals and tourists to enjoy the natural beauty.
  5. Environmental health
    The overall wellbeing of the environment and the degree to which it has been preserved and protected. This can include efforts taken to maintain the natural beauty and minimize human impact on the environment, such as conservation programs, sustainable tourism practices, and responsible land management.
  6. Cultural and historical significance
    The presence of historical landmarks, archaeological sites, or cultural traditions related to the natural beauty of the area. This can enhance the visitor's appreciation and understanding of the region's natural heritage.
  7. Popularity
    The level of interest and visitation to the area by local residents, domestic tourists, and international travelers. High rankings in travel guides, awards, and destination lists can be indicative of the region's natural appeal.
  8. Rarity
    Unique or rare natural phenomena or features that can only be found in that specific location, which adds to the area's attractiveness.
  9. Recreational opportunities
    The range of outdoor activities that visitors can engage in while visiting the area, such as hiking, biking, bird-watching, fishing, or water sports, to name a few.
  10. Educational value
    Opportunities for visitors to learn about the area's natural history, ecology, and conservation efforts, which can enhance their appreciation and connection to the natural environment.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most beautiful nature in North Carolina. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or your favorite natural is missing from the list, feel free to help us improve the ranking.


  • 189 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each natural once every 24 hours. The rank of each natural is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most beautiful nature in north carolina

North Carolina boasts some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the United States, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From the rolling hills of the Piedmont to the rugged Appalachian Mountains and the breathtaking coastline, North Carolina's diverse terrain provides endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. With over 40 state parks and numerous national forests, visitors can experience the state's natural beauty through hiking, camping, fishing, and more. In this article, we'll be exploring some of the most beautiful nature spots in North Carolina, as voted on by our users on StrawPoll.