Jackson County is home to four seasons of outdoor recreation, from rafting on the Tuckasegee to hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway to snow-skiing in the winter at three nearby summits. National and state parkland abound in a region that attracts not just those from the southeast, but visitors from around the world.

A map showing Bear Lake Reserve's location in Jackson County.
Sylva, NC, just northwest of Bear Lake. Shown is a strip of small shops.


The Jackson County seat is located just minutes northwest of Bear Lake. You can stroll by the quaint shops along Main Street, attend a wine tasting at the Bear Lake Reserve Wine Bar & Cellar, or climb all 107 steps to the front door of the historic Jackson County Courthouse. You may recognize Sylva from the 2018 Oscar nominated film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Whether you’re a film buff or just need a dose of small town charm, Sylva is a great place to visit.


Cashiers and Highlands are located high on a plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the southern end of Jackson County. Boasting some of the highest elevations east of the Mississippi, the unique geography and temperate rain forest boast hundreds of waterfalls, quiet lakes and mountains, and four distinct seasons with only moderate temperature swings. The year-round population is typically 3,000, but during the peak season between May and October, the number swells to over 30,000.

One of many waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the south of Jackson County.
The town of Cullowhee, in a densely wooded area.


Cullowhee – nestled against the Tuckasegee River – was originally a Cherokee Nation village. Cullowhee became one of the first settlements of European origin in what is now Jackson County, and was said to have established the first school in the area. Today, Cullowhee is home to Western Carolina University, attended by more than 11,000 students. Bear Lake Reserve is a proud sponsor of WCU Athletics, and hosts game-related events in season both on and off property.