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Base Camp Cullowhee


Find your next adventure.

UPDATE - Currently all Summer programming including First Ascent has been cancelled due to the current COVID-19 situation.  Our number one priority is keeping our students safe and healthy.

Photo of WCU Students hiking Black Balsam Knob in the mountains of Western North Carolina


Base Camp Cullowhee gives you the opportunity to get out and explore the world around you. This is more than just a recreation program, you have an array of outdoor recreation trips, experiential education opportunities, and outdoor equipment rentals right at your fingertips.

Home to human powered adventure at WCU, there are over 9,000 experiences available per year so no matter what you seek, trip programs, guide services, rental equipment or conquering our indoor climbing wall, there's an experience for everyone. Discover first hand how adventures can be one of the best ways to learn.

Western Carolina University has been named Top Adventure College - Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019)

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, 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.

Schedule - Trips | Clinics | Events

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

Adventure Shop

Hours of Operation (Fall/Spring):

Monday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tuesday-Thursday: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Hours of Operation (Summer): CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19



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: 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Friday: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Sunday: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Hours of Operation (Summer):

Monday and Thursday: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

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 Campus Recreation Center (CRC) front desk when you arrive. The cost is $5.00 per child.

Check our program schedule for specific dates.


Cycle Shop

Hours of Operation (Fall/Spring):

Monday: 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Thursday: 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

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 Western Carolina University community is our WCU Trail System. At nearly 7 miles long, this trail was designed for hikers and mountain biking. 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 trailhead, is a series of structured activities consisting of ground-based initiatives and elements that serve as a proving ground for teamwork. Teambuilding, as 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.

For more information on booking a program please contact Kay Tufts

To learn more about our WCU Low Ropes Course, click - Booking your Team Development Course Experience at WCU


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 - 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
  2. Base Camp Adventure

Find more information on program dates, registration here.

Outdoor Guide Development Program (OGDP)

The Outdoor Guide Development Program (OGDP) is an outdoor leadership training program open to all WCU students offered during the Fall semester.  Students are eligable for academic credit via PRM 486 (4cr) Field Experience. OGDP is an immersive program that provides a smooth transition and educational process to become a Base Camp Cullowhee (BCC) Trip Staff. 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 Lead Guide 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 semester. 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 toolbox; OGDP has something to offer everyone.

All students are required to register for OGDP prior to participation. 

Academic Credit with Parks and Recreation Management

NOTE - If you express interest in obtaining academic credit via PRM 486 Field Experience, please email Jeremiah Haas,

To register CLICK HERE

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

OGDP Schedule - Fall 2020

OGDP Workshops/Training Date Time Location
Overview of Course and Introduction to OGDP 8/19/2020 8:00am-9:55am or 4:00pm-5:55pm (pick just one time to attend) CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Group Dynamics & Leadership 9/9/2020 8:00am-9:55am CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Lesson Planning | Learning Styles and Teaching 9/23/2020 8:00am-9:55am CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Risk in the Wilderness | Preperation | Self-care 9/30/2020 8:00am-9:55am CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Group Dynamics & Leadership 10/7/2020 4:00pm-5:55pm CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Lesson Planning | Learning Styles and Teaching 10/21/2020 4:00pm-5:55pm CRC Meeting Room
Foundations: Risk in the Wilderness | Preperation | Self-care 10/28/2020 4:00pm-5:55pm CRC Meeting Room
Essential Outdoor Skills Day 11/7/2020 8:00am-6:00pm WCU Campus
OGDP Field Training 12/12-12/15/2020 *Required pre-trip: 11/19/20 8-9:30pm 8:00am CRC Meeting Room

OGDP Curriculum

1. Foundations & Essentials: OGDP begins with three Foundations workshops. 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 workshops are offered twice a semester, each for two hours - you pick the best time (offered in September and October). The schedule of classes can be found on the Base Camp website and program calendar.

The Outdoor Essentials Skills Day is a day dedicated to learning all the camp-craft skills requried to be a competent outdoor leader in the backcountry.  This day will help prepare you for our 4-day mini-expedition at the end of the program.

2. Experience Base Camp Cullowhee: Sign up for two outdoor program 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, Spring or Summer. During these trips you will learn about how a Base Camp trip runs, 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 4 day technical field training (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, provide a self evaluation of their skills and receive a final instrcutor evaluation for 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.

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 your skill level, apprenticing enough trips, obtaining proper certifications and progress on competency checklists; students may be asked to join BCC as an 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

Hours of Operation (Fall/Spring):

Thursdays: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

For dates check out our program schedule.

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 its 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
  • Where is Base Camp Located?
    BCC is located on the first floor of the Campus Recreation Center.
  • What are the Adventure Shop Hours?
    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.
  • How do I sign up for Base Camp?
    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.
  • How do I sign up for trips?
    To sign-up for a Base Camp trip, you can either come to our Adventure Shop located in the Campus Recreation Center or, you can sign up online here.
  • How much does it cost to rent gear?
    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.
  • What are the Climbing Wall Hours?
    Fall and Spring Hours: Monday-Thursday 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Friday 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sunday 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    Summer Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Who can sign-up for a Base Camp Trip?
    Any WCU student, staff, or faculty are eligible to sign up for trips.  Guests, or an individual not directly affiliated with WCU, are ineligible to register for and participate in BCC trips. 
  • What are the difficulty levels are Base Camp Trips?
    The majority of our trips cater to beginners. However, for most trips, participants are expected to be in good physical shape in order to participate in the activity. 
  • Is Outdoor Programs permitted to operate on US Forest Service Lands?

Outdoor Programs holds Special Use Permits with the US Forest Service, for the following ranger districts - Nantahala, Pisgah and Grandfather.  Outdoor Programs is permitted to operate on National Forest Service Land. This permit states: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its 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.

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