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Home of Western Carolina University, Cullowhee is an outdoor adventure paradise in the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s centrally located in Jackson County, close to Cashiers, Sylva, and Dillsboro.

Originally settled as a Cherokee village, Cullowhee is the perfect place to get outside for kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and mountain biking. That’s why Western Carolina University (WCU) was named the top adventure college by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine for several years now. An hour west of Asheville, there are endless outdoor pursuits and Cullowhee is located near both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Cullowhee’s event calendar is packed year-round. The Summertime Arts & Crafts Show features heritage crafts and handmade arts available for sale. Known as one of the top events in North Carolina, the Mountain Heritage Day in September is filled with Southern Appalachian music, dance, art and crafts. During November’s Hard Candy Christmas Arts and Crafts Show, guests can purchase unique southern gifts, including quilts, pine needle baskets, handmade dolls, and folk art.

A small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cullowhee is best known as home to WCU. Visitors can enjoy sporting events from Catamount Basketball, Football, or Baseball game while visiting alongside countless programs and displays at the Bardo Arts Center and Fine Art Museum.

More to Explore

From mountain biking to the arts, Cullowhee is full of surprise. See some highlights below:

  • Western Carolina University Trail System – This 6.8-mile multi-use trail system is designed for experienced hikers and mountain bikers seeking adventure. The mountainous terrain makes it challenging, and there are plenty of elevation changes to keep things interesting.
  • Whitewater Rafting – The Tuckasegee River flows through scenic mountain valleys and several quaint communities and is the most prominent whitewater river in Jackson County.
  • Judaculla Rock – If you’re looking for history, this thousand-year-old soapstone boulder with unexplained Native American etchings is worth the visit.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway entrance is located at Balsam (near Waynesville) and is only a twenty-minute drive from Cullowhee. Endless adventures and sunsets await.
  • Lake Glenville – Only about twenty minutes from Cullowhee, Lake Glenville is a must-visit. With 26-miles of shoreline, seven islands and three gorgeous waterfalls, Lake Glenville is a getaway in itself. One of the highest-elevation lakes east of the Rocky Mountains, Lake Glenville is the largest lake in Jackson County. Perfect for boating and water-skiing, Lake Glenville also features a swimming area with sand beach and trail to High Falls (also called Cullowhee Falls). The surrounding Glenville community includes historic churches and unique shops.
  • Sapphire skiing – Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Sapphire Valley offers the area’s finest skiing facility, boasting a state-of-the-art quad lift, a learning center slope and a multiple lane, 500-foot snow tubing run.
  • Waterfall tours of Cashiers, Highlands, and Franklin – Explore the best of the waterfalls in WNC without waterfall guide to the region.
  • Bardo Arts Center – This collective center for the arts is home to the Western Carolina University Performance Hall, Studio Theatre, and Fine Arts Museum. It serves as the epicenter of performance and visual arts for the campus and the surrounding community year-round.
  • Fishing on the Tuckasegee River – No trip to Jackson County is complete without a day of fly fishing on the Tuck. As the home of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail®, there are plenty of fish in the stream.

Ready to plan your trip to Cullowhee?

Take a look at our Trip Ideas to get inspiration for your next mountain getaway. Or check out some FAQs to get all your Jackson County questions answered.

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