Western Carolina University has been named the premiere outdoor adventure college in the region, according to a Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine online readers’ poll.
The monthly magazine for outdoor sports, health and adventure travel in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic announced the results in an online article Monday, May 16. It is the third straight year for WCU to gain the recognition.
“It’s not surprising that WCU has taken the Top Adventure College Contest honors for the third year in a row,” said Travis Hall, author of the feature article. “Amidst a backdrop of Appalachian peaks, crystal clear trout streams and rivers, and seemingly endless singletrack, WCU has cultivated an outdoor culture that only gets richer with each passing school year.”
On campus and off, numerous outdoor opportunities await students, faculty and staff. From a multi-use trail system behind the Health and Human Sciences Building on its West Campus to the neighboring Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, as well as scenic lakes and waterways like the nearby Tuckaseigee River, there is quick and easy access to some of the best landscapes in the Southern Appalachians.
“WCU truly embraces its rural mountain environment and ability to access natural resources by emphasizing outdoor recreation as a part of our university culture,” said Shauna Sleight, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness. “The university has facilities, programs, services and academic programs focused in the outdoor environment. When an opportunity presents itself to vote for WCU as the best outdoor adventure school, our university community is proud to do so for the place we call home.”
The university’s Base Camp Cullowhee, the outdoor programming unit at WCU, offers dozens of outdoor recreation trips to students annually, provides experiential education services and has an equipment rental service. Among the academic programs offered by WCU of interest to students pursuing careers in the outdoors are parks and recreation management, forest resources, hospitality and tourism and natural resource conservation and management.
The contest began with 32 schools in the running for the title. Following a “March Madness” theme, WCU progressed to the magazine’s online finals and faced Emory and Henry College of Emory, Virginia. Voting for the top spot began at 1 p.m. Monday, April 18, and concluded 9 a.m. Monday, April 25.
Photo courtesy of Ashley T. Evans/WCU and story courtesy of Geoff Cantrell/WCU