Base Camp Cullowhee

Hiking photo


Base Camp Cullowhee aims to offer the finest University Outdoor Program in the country.  We do this by offering the WCU community a comprehensive array of outdoor recreation trips, experiential education opportunities, and outdoor equipment rentals.  More than just a recreation program, we aim to engage and develop the whole student through the medium of outdoor adventure activities.  Base Camp Cullowhee is the home to human powered adventure at WCU. Between the climbing wall, trip programs, guide service and rental equipment, Base Camp Cullowhee facilitates over 9,000 participant experiences per year! Come find your next ADVENTURE.

For the past four years, Western Carolina University has been named Top Adventure College - Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Ready for some human powered adventure?  Come paddle a river, canoe a lake, climb the rocks, explore the forests and national parks. WCU is home to some of the most amazing rivers, waterfalls, granite domes, and pristine national forests and national parks in the country. At WCU we aim to reach new heights! We offer a variety of half day and full day trips along with extended break trips such as fall and spring break expeditions! All trips and programs are planned and executed by trained students and our professional guide staff. All staff are highly qualified and hold certifications such as Wilderness First Responder, EMT, ACA Swift Water Rescue, American Mountain Guides Association, and more.

Spring 2018 Trips & Clinics Schedule


Base Camp Cullowhee provides the following services to enhance your outdoor experience at WCU!

  • Outdoor Equipment Rentals
  • Climbing Wall
  • Cycle Shop
  • Multi-use Trail System
  • Teambuilding and Low Ropes Course
  • Ski and Snowboard Shuttle


Adventure Shop

Hours of Operation:

Monday: 11am-5pm

Tuesday-Thursday: 12pm-5pm

Friday: 10am-5pm

Base Camp Cullowhee is here to serve as your resource center, guide to local outdoor trails, map service center, and outdoor leader to answer all of your questions. We have tons of maps of North Carolina, including almost every topographic map of the state. We have books on Standard First Aid to Biking in Utah. We have eager employees that would love to help you reach your destination, so come by and see the wealth of resources at your fingertips.


Base Camp Cullowhee offers Outdoor Equipment Rentals for students, faculty, and staff. To help accommodate the WCU community we have updated our rental rates so we now have 3 rental periods that patrons can rent for. From camping equipment to whitewater gear, we've got it all.


Deposits are required for all rental equipment! Equipment is considered late if not returned by 5:00 pm on the day it is due. Renters will pay the daily rental rate for each item that is late, up until the total cost is occurred for that item. 

  • Day Rate: allows for patrons to rent for a 24-hour period (Thursday-Friday).  
  • Weekend Rate: allows for patrons to rent for 3 days (Friday-Monday).  
  • Week Rate: allows patrons to rent for a 7 day period (Friday-Friday).


Climbing Wall

Hours of Operation (Fall/Spring):

Monday-Thursday: 4pm-8pm

Friday: 4pm-7pm

Sunday: 5pm-8pm

Hours of Operation (Summer):

Monday and Thursday: 4pm-7pm

Kids Climbing Dates

Kids Climbing Night is typically the last Friday of the month from 5:00pm-7:00pm. Kids can climb under the supervision of a parent or guardian. Please check in at the CRC front desk when you arrive. The cost is $5.00/child.

Semester Dates:

  • Friday, 1/26
  • Friday, 2/23
  • Friday, 3/23
  • Friday, 4/27


Cycle Shop

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday and Thursday: 3pm-5pm

The Base Camp Cycle Shop is your one stop shop for all your cycling needs. Students have access to a fully equipped bike shop and trained technician to assist in repairs and answer questions. Whether a road bike, mountain bike, or something in between, we have the tools and knowledge to keep the cycling adventure going. Don't forget to ask about our monthly clinics ranging from basic bike maintenance to essential mountain biking skills. BCC also offers mountain bike rentals to explore nearly 7 miles of the WCU campus trail system.

Bike Fix-It Stands and Air Pumps

WCU also has two Dero Bicycle Fix-it Stands and Air Pumps located across campus and are free to use.  For maintenance issues please report to

Fix-It Stands & Air Pump Locations
  1. Campus Recreation Center
  2. WCU Tunnel Entrance/Softball Stadium Parking Lot


Trail System

Another campus feature we’re proud to share with the WCU community is our WCU Trail System. At nearly 7 miles long, this trail was designed for mountain biking and foot traffic. Enjoy!

WCU Trail System Map


Teambuilding and Team Development Course

These programs are built around fostering teamwork and communication skills. WCU's Team Development Course, located behind NCCAT near the Wildflower trail head, is a series of structured activities consisting of ground based initiatives and elements that serve as a proving ground for teamwork. Teambuilding, like the name might suggest, is team-centered initiatives concocted from a series of game-like challenges. Unlike our Low Ropes Course, we can make Teambuilding happen anywhere considering that it utilizes very little hardware.

Fore more information on booking a program please contact Kay Tufts


Ski and Snowboard Shuttle

Get outside and enjoy the winter in Western North Carolina.  Shred some powder every Friday night during the months of January and February.  Outdoor Programs offers ski shuttle services to Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, NC!  Make the best out of the winter and hit the slopes with Base Camp Cullowhee. 

For more information on dates and times check out our Trips Calendar.



Base Camp has a variety of programs that will meet you where you are at.  BCC is not a club and you do not need a membership to join.  Stop by our Adventure Shop located in the Campus Recreation Center and let our staff help you get started.  We specialize in small group instruction, minimal impact techniques, traveling light and most importantly building community!  Below is a list of programs that are offered throughout the year.

  • First Ascent - WCU's Wilderness Orientation Program
  • Outdoor Guide Development Program
  • Kayak Roll Clinics


First Ascent - New Student Wilderness Orientation Program

First Ascent is WCU's Wilderness Orientation program created to offer unique outdoor adventures specifically for incoming students. These programs also offer students the opportunity to move on to campus early, familiarize oneself with resources and start building a community of friends that helps ease the transition into the college experience. It's the perfect way to start your climb at WCU! The program offers two different options 1.) Wilderness Experience and 2.) Base Camp Adventure. 

For more information on program dates, registration, and frequently asked questions please click FIRST ASCENT


Outdoor Guide Development Program (OGDP)

The Outdoor Guide Development Program (OGDP) is a outdoor leadership training program open to all WCU students, faculty and staff members offered during the Fall and Spring semesters.  OGDP is an immersive program that provides a smooth transition and educational process to become a BCC Trip Leader. Certificates of completion will be given to those students participating in a formal assessment of their skills and qualifications as pursuant to best industry practice and established Base Camp Cullowhee Trip Leader and Instructor competencies.

OGDP focuses on giving students the necessary skills, knowledge and awareness to become competent outdoor instructors and guides. OGDP Foundations and Outdoor Essential Clinics are at the core of becoming a trip leader and are offered during the Fall and Spring semesters.

OGDP is also Base Camp's professional development for current staff working as trip leaders and focuses on improvement in technical skills, leadership and interpersonal skills.

Becoming an outdoor leader and educator is a lifelong journey that starts with developing a core set of skills and knowledge. It is more than just being a climber, paddler or backpacker. OGDP gives you the confidence and tools necessary to pursue a life full of human powered adventure. Whether you want to become a trip leader with Base Camp Cullowhee, work for an outdoor guide service, or just looking to refine your outdoor leader tool box; OGDP has something to offer everyone.

All students are required to complete a Candidate Data Form prior to starting the program.

Students interested in OGDP can learn more by stopping by the CRC Adventure Shop or emailing

OGDP Curriculum

1. Foundations: OGDP begins with three Foundations workshops: History and Philosophy of Outdoor Education and Programming, Risk in the Wilderness, and Leadership and Group Dynamics. Foundations are courses that focus on the awareness of appropriate attitudes, knowledge, and skills as it relates to outdoor leadership with particular emphasis on the relationship between people, the environment, and equipment. These FREE workshops meet two times in the Spring, each for two hours - you pick the best time. The schedule of classes can be found on the Base Camp website and program calendar. You can sign up for Foundations workshops in the CRC Adventure Shop - Base Camp Cullowhee.

2. Experience Base Camp Cullowhee: Sign up for two outdoor programs day trips, or attend one overnight extended trip as a participant. One can participate in these trips at any point during their progress through OGDP, Fall or Spring. During these trips you will learn about how a Base Camp trip is ran, you will see first hand how the instructor team works together and also learn about some of our popular outdoor destinations. The Base Camp Cullowhee program calendar is available on our website or at the CRC Adventure Shop.

3. Overview of Trip Leading with BCC & Technical Field Training: The final phase of OGDP is completing an overview of what it means to be a trip leader with BCC and attend a weekend of backpacking which will focus on teaching and reviewing all the necessary technical skills and interpersonal skills one needs to have in order to move into a trip leader role. Students will work 1:1 with professional staff to check off on their competency checklist. Once finished, students will meet 2:1 with Base Camp professional staff for a self-review and reflection of the training.

4. Medical Certifications: The following certifications are required to work for WCU Base Camp Cullowhee: Wilderness First Responder (Lead Guides), Wilderness First Aid (Instructors), Basic First Aid (Apprentices), CPR/AED (Everyone), NC Epinephrine Administration, and WCU Van Driver Training. It is the student's responsibility to obtain these certifications prior to working. CRW offers CPR/AED courses in house, dates can be found HERE

5. Apprentice: After completing Foundations, participating in BCC programs, completing the Field Training, meet with professional staff and check off on your competency checklist and obtain required certifications, you will be ready to start your journey as a Trip Apprentice. Trip Apprentices are hired as staff with CRW and Base Camp Cullowhee. Apprentices are paid $7.25/hour. Responsibilities include: help plan logistics, teaching flow, manage safety and help to facilitate a quality experience for patrons. Once you are an Apprentice, students will receive emails and newsletters regarding opportunities for trip leading.

6. Instructors and Lead Guides: Depending on a your skill level, apprenticing enough trips, obtaining proper certifications and progress on competency checklists; students may be asked to join BCC as a Instructor or Lead Guide. The process of completing OGDP is different for every student. Our goal is to meet you where you are at, allow you the time needed to build confidence and the necessary outdoor skills prior to stepping into a leadership role. You will go through a field checkoff, at which time BCC trip staff will make sure you complete all necessary skills on your checklist.

OGDP also offers an exemption process for those students coming in with a wealth of knowledge, skills, certifications, and experience. The program also offers exemptions for students who are majoring in Parks and Recreation Management (PRM). For more information on exemptions please contact Jeremiah Haas

7. Outdoor Essential Clinics: Once a student becomes a trip staff with BCC, it is required that staff keep up with their professional development in order to keep the quality of instruction and risk management high and to offer top notch programming to our patrons. These FREE workshops teach you the essential skills for becoming an outdoor leader. There are a series of both Technical and Soft skill focused clinics and staff have to choose 1 from each category, during both Fall and Spring semesters. This is a total of 4 workshops over the year. OGDP Candidates and BCC Trip Staff can register for clinics at the Adventure Shop, located in the CRC. You can attend Essential Clinics at any time.


Kayak Roll Clinics

Fall and Spring Semesters: 7:00-9:00 PM

Dates - 2/22/18-4/26/18

Learning how to whitewater kayak? Base Camp Cullowhee can help! We offer free roll clinics in Reid Pool select Thursdays of the semester to help you perfect your roll so when it comes time to transfer those skills to the river, you are ready.  Let our trained staff work with you 1:1 to help perfect that roll.

Guests of WCU affiliates can obtain a Guest Pass at the CRC front desk.  Your receipt is required for entry into the pool.


Base Camp Cullowhee is permitted to operate on National Forest Service Land. This permit states: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in it's programs on the basis of race, color national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Base Camp has a variety of events to please your outdoor adventure appetite. 

  • Tuck River Cleanup
  • Annual Outdoor Gear Sale & Swap
  • Outdoor Adventure Speaker & Film Series
  • Rock and Rumble Bouldering Competition - USAC, Collegiate Climbing Series

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Where is Base Camp Located?

       A: We recently changed locations and our new home is in the Campus Recreation Center.

Q: What are the Adventure Shop Hours?

A: Fall and Spring Hours: Monday  11:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 P.M.-5:00 P.M, Friday 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M.. Summer Hours: Monday 10:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M., Friday 9:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M and 3:00 P.M.-5:00 P.M.  

Q: How do I sign up for Base Camp?

A: Base Camp is not an organization you sign-up for. A lot of our programs, such as the climbing wall and roll clinics, are free to students. We do offer numerous trips that you can sign-up for and each trip is a certain, reduced, cost for students. We also provide outdoor gear rentals for students, faculty and staff, for a fee.

Q: How do I sign up for trips?

A: To sign-up for a Base Camp trip you can either come to our Adventure Shop located in the CRC or, you can search Base Camp on WCU’s website and there is a link to sign-up for all of our trips.

Q: How much does it cost to rent gear?

A: Each item that we rent comes at a different cost depending on the item and how long you want to rent it. We have items anywhere from $2.00 to $45.00. For more information click on our rental rates.

Q: Can I rent a Bike?

A: Currently we are unable to rent bikes. We moved into a new facility and do not have easy access to our bikes. We are in the process of getting a new bike mechanic and are hoping to start Mountain Bike rentals again in the Fall of 2016.

Q: What are the Climbing Wall Hours?

A: Fall and Spring Hours: Monday-Thursday 4:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M., Friday 4:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M. Summer Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 4:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.

Q: Who can sign-up for a Base Camp Trip?

A: Any student, staff, faculty or guest of a student, staff or faculty are allowed to go on trips. If a guest is wanting to sign-up for a trip, their student, staff or faculty sponsor must also go on the trip. Non-student rates are slightly more in price.

Q: What level of difficulty are Base Camp Trips?

A: The majority of our trips cater to beginners. However, we do have some trips that require some skill on the part of the participant.



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