Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina

Waterfalls for All

Nature doesn’t discriminate but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for everyone to get outside and enjoy it.

Inclusion • Diversity • Equity • Accessibility

We often hear the term “outdoors is for all,” but when we visit waterfalls or other outdoor spaces, we might notice that some groups are represented in higher numbers than others. While we might put that down to personal preference or individual choice, the reality is that there are much bigger systemic factors that influence the diversity we see in the outdoors.

Many of the outdoor activities and recreational facilities we enjoy today were originally created to serve white people and their communities, often by displacing Indigenous peoples from their homelands, and those legacies of exclusion are still evident today.

Poorly maintained trails and parking areas can create access challenges for people with disabilities or small children.

The cost of gas or lodging can be a barrier to folks from low-income communities. Fear of harassment or violence can make women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and others feel unsafe, even in popular hiking locations.

Outdoor retail marketing campaigns have historically lacked diverse representation making it difficult for people of color, disabled people, and the LGBTQ community to see themselves reflected in outdoor recreation opportunities.

At Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic and beauty of waterfalls. Through our programs and volunteer efforts, we are committed to creating safe, inclusive, and accessible opportunities for all waterfall enthusiasts to reap the benefits of spending time in nature, engaging in conservation and environmental stewardship, and connecting with a diverse and welcoming community.

We think that’s a great IDEA!


Everyone is welcome to be a part of WKNC, no matter their identity, background, or beliefs.

We strive to make our programs and events as inclusive as possible by partnering with diverse organizations that share our values, mission, and overall purpose.

We know we won’t always get it right, but we commit to holding ourselves accountable when we get it wrong and to continuously seeking input from the members and communities we serve. Our goal is to ensure that everyone who interacts with WKNC receives a warm welcome and is treated with dignity and respect.


Diversity refers to the broad array of characteristics that make us who we are and that make us different from one another. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, age, religion, veteran status, socioeconomic status, appearance, nationality, family type, geographic location, educational background, profession, political beliefs, and life experiences.

Diversity isn’t the end game, but the way forward. At WKNC, we acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of the region as the original caretakers and stewards of our waterfalls and public lands while recognizing the importance of building a richly diverse environmental movement to safeguard our natural spaces for generations to come. Our aim is to foster partnerships with diverse communities and groups so that more people can experience the wondrous, restorative, and healing properties of waterfalls.



Equity is the principle of ensuring fair treatment, access, and opportunity for everyone.

Equity is different from equality. Whereas equality means providing the same resources to everyone, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and so we need to make adjustments to correct imbalances and level the playing field for all.

At WKNC, we recognize that, due to a lack of opportunity and resources, some groups have faced more barriers to accessing the outdoors than others. Through targeted outreach and programs, we strive to eliminate inequities and provide opportunities for more people to enjoy waterfalls.

We are committed to fostering equity in our programs by offering limited scholarships to our educational workshops so that income is not a barrier to participation, partnering with communities that have limited access to outdoor spaces, and by providing other resources.


North Carolina is home to thousands of waterfalls. While many can only be reached by strenuous hikes, there are numerous waterfalls that can be accessed by anyone, regardless of ability, age, or income level.

WKNC strives to create a community of waterfall enthusiasts who feel like they belong outdoors and who have the knowledge and resources to find and visit waterfalls that are accessible to them.

We will pursue accessibility in our programming by sharing resources about waterfalls that are accessible to everyone (including those that are viewable from the road or accessed by paved trails), working with families and the disability community to find out what they need in order to make our efforts more accessible and inclusive, incorporating accommodation requests in event planning and registration, and offering a wide range of programs and volunteer opportunities to meet the diverse accessibility needs of our members.

Accessible Waterfalls Everyone Can Enjoy

Actions We’re Taking

In 2021, WKNC formed the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Committee to ensure that inclusive principles are embedded into our programs and messaging. The IDEA committee compiles resources, creates content, and advises our Team on all matters relating to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. The IDEA Committee is comprised of women of color, disabled folks, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of diverse generations.

While historically, people of color were purposely not included in decisions that led to the creation and management of public lands, WKNC has taken steps within our organization to ensure that diverse voices are heard and have a seat at the table. In 2021, WKNC reached out to Ch8sing Waterfalls, a Black, women-run non-profit organization that encourages Black women to experience joy and healing while chasing waterfalls. Following many discussions between the two organizations, Deborah McGlawn, founder of Ch8sing Waterfalls, agreed to Chair the IDEA Committee. Deborah and Marionette Audifferen, also a member of Ch8sing Waterfalls, also sit on the Board of Directors of WKNC.

Our Mission

“To promote and advance the cultural, economic, ecological, and historical significance of North Carolina waterfalls; to serve as an educator and advocate; and to preserve waterfalls and facilitate their enjoyment in perpetuity.”

Mailing Address

283 Inman Branch Road
Waynesville, NC 28786

Physical Address

The spray zone of a North Carolina Waterfall

[email protected]

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Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (Tax ID 84-4464996) under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

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