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Living In A College Town: Cullowhee, North Carolina

Cullowhee, North Carolina is a thriving college town that appeals to everyone, including young professionals and seniors alike. Part of Jackson County, Cullowhee is surrounded by a number of unique mountain towns with its own attractions and amenities to offer. Enjoy boutique shopping excursions in Cashiers, a train ride through Bryson City into the Great Smoky Mountains, tee-off in Cherokee at Sequoyah National Golf Club, or mine for gems in the Franklin all in towns nearby Cullowhee, North Carolina. Learn more about living in this fun college town! 

Western Carolina University 

Sprawling across over 600 acres, you can not separate Cullowhee from Western Carolina University. Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this rural mountain college offers over 120 majors and undergraduate degrees in high demand fields. Popular majors including Nursing, Engineering, Social Work, Education, and Law Enforcement. 

With over 12,000 students, WCU is the perfect balance between a large and small student body. The 17 to 1 faculty ratio allows dedicated professors with professional experience to provide hands-on learning. Roughly 4,500 students live on campus in Cullowhee providing an active student body presence in the community. 

WCU Athletics

Part of the Southern Conference (SoCon) affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Western Carolina University offers thriving athletic programs for young student-athletes. Other universities in this conference include Wofford, Samford, the Citadel, and Furman, to name a few. WCU offers athletic programs and scholarships for Basketball, Football, Golf, Baseball, Track & Field, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, and Cross Country. 

Community Engagement at WCU

Sports are not the only way WCU is an active part of the Cullowhee community. Below are a few of the many classes, programs, and events that Western Carolina University offers as outreach to everyone from adults to seniors in Cullowhee, North Carolina. 

  • Festival Events – Enjoy annual festivals like Mountain Heritage Day, the Spring Literary Festival, and the Native Plant Conference on campus and open to the entire community. 
  • Swim Programs – Sign your little one up for swim lessons or take a water aerobics class as part of WCU’s swim programs available to the public. 
  • Art Workshops – Improve your skills, learn a new medium, or just take the time to have fun in one of the many art workshops put on by the university.  
  • Dulcimer U – Learn a new instrument with the university’s Dulcimer U. Learn from knowledgeable staff to play, read music, maintain your instrument, as well as the history of music including courses like music theory. 
  • Children’s Camps and Programs – WCU offers both day and overnight camps and programs for children in swimming, arts, music, and the sciences. 

5 Things to do in Cullowhee, North Carolina 

  1. Fishing – Fly Fishing is an extremely popular past-time throughout Western North Carolina. The Tuckasegee River, or Tuck as it is known, travels through Cullowhee and the rest of Jackson County and provides a base for a number of exciting outdoor activities. Take some time to cross off the best fishing spots in Western NC
  2. Paddle SportsWestern North Carolina offers ample opportunity for paddling sports with still-water lakes to paddleboard, dam-controlled rivers that open on set schedules for adrenaline-pumping rides on whitewater rapids, and early morning sunrise kayak excursions
  3. BikingIf looking to tear up asphalt or climb the mountainside Cullowhee is a bikers paradise. Cherokee’s Fire Mountain biking trail system is a beacon for mountain biking enthusiasts. Not to mention the nearby National Parks that offer trails with a variety of difficulty levels for newbie riders, and experts as well. 
  4. HikingMake your way through the woods on a simple walking trail or climb the mountain on a challenging hike! Western North Carolina offers both types of trails with rewarding waterfalls at the end!
  5. Parks and Recreation CentersFrom National Parks to recreational areas throughout Jackson County, there are so many places to enjoy outdoor fun and games. Pickleball courts, soccer and baseball fields, disc golf and tennis courses, and playgrounds for young families are only a few of the community amenities in Jackson County. 

8 Benefits of Living in A College Town 

  1. The Coffee Shops – The main benefit of living in a college town is all the coffee shops. The sheer demand from the student body offers a variety of shops with great blends and a welcoming atmosphere. 
  2. Upbeat EnergyThere is unexplainable energy in a college town. The excitement put out from the nearby school radiates, touching every aspect of community life.  
  3. Diverse CultureThe constant influx of new residents in the form of students from all over the world encourages a diverse cultural experience. Not to mention clubs and organizations hold events to broaden the community’s knowledge and ideas about various topics including panels, art shows, poetry readings, musical performances, and more. 
  4. Fun AttractionsWhether it is a basketball game, festival, seminar, plays, art show, or symphony, college towns always have a roster full of fun activities for students and the community alike. 
  5. Continued Education OpportunitiesLooking to stay up to date on advances in your field? Maybe you just want to learn more about a particular topic, or try your hand at a new hobby? Having the college nearby allows you opportunities for continued education at any age.  
  6. Low Cost of LivingLiving in a college town is a great way to save money. Because many apartments and homes are also occupied by students, rent tends to be cheaper. Because most of their business is from students, businesses and restaurants tend to be less expensive. 
  7. Access to SportsIt doesn’t matter if it is a D1, D2, or D3 school, the sports scene tends to be vibrant in a college town. And the college fan base tends to run deeper than most professional sports fans. Also, depending on the school, tickets tend to be cheap and athletes give it their all!
  8. Easy CommuteCollege towns have a number of places within walking distance and have regular transportation services. It is also not out of place to ride your bike to work (or class)!

Whether you want to cheer on the Catamounts from the stands on campus, paddle through the rapids with a group of your friends, take a course and learn something new, or simply cast a line after a long work week, Cullowhee has everything you want and more. Come enjoy the benefits of mountain riverfront living at Cullowhee River Club!