Never Sets on
The Many Faces of Western North Carolina
by Kasey Culbreth
Every school has rumors. The first rumor I ever heard about Western Carolina University was that it had no electricity. In fact, this school prides itself in being the "most wired." The second myth I heard about WCU, that students have nothing to do, was just plain wrong. Cullowhee and neighboring towns have something for anyone interested in the great outdoors, sightseeing, or shopping.
If you like whitewater rafting, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, or even tubing, Western is a paradise. The nearby Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) offers courses from beginner to advanced levels in rafting, biking, and team building. Six beautiful rivers lure whitewater rafting enthusiasts, and NOC leads adventure tours to over 20 destinations all over the world.
Or visit Deep Creek in Bryson City, popular for its tubing, horseback riding, well-equipped camping areas, and public picnic grounds with outdoor grills. Shallow wading areas in the Nantahala river provide a cool relaxing place to regain energy after a full day on the river or trail.
For the less adventurous, explore the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. In this mansion, America's largest home, visitors can wander through 250 rooms, an award-winning vineyard and winery, and acres of garden. The estate tour guides are privy to all the inside secrets of the Vanderbilt family mansion, once a totally self- sustaining community.
The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 469 miles of mountains that range
from 650 to 6,000 feet. Two of the biggest points of interest
along the way are Newfound Gap amd Clingman's Dome The parkway
is a great place for biking, hiking, bird watching and photography.
For the Norman Rockwell in you, check out Dillsboro. This historic village of over 40 shops features Appalachian arts and crafts, fine gifts and antiques. Dine at fine restaurants including the nationally famous Jarrett House. Take a ride on the scenic line of the Great Smoky Mountains Railway, with several departures daily during summer and leaf seasons.
And, if Asheville's many nightclubs, museums, poetry slams, and orchestras don't satisfy your cultural itch, you can reach Atlanta, Knoxville or Greenville, SC in just two hours. Many of us, spoiled by all these splendors, could never live anywhere else.