Outdoors Briefs

Outdoors roundup

New parking lot at Cullowhee Rec Center

Change is happening at the Cullowhee Recreation Center as construction of an aquatics complex proceeds. 

A new parking lot is now complete at the back of the center, and the old parking lot at the front is no longer accessible. The front desk and check-in area has been relocated down the hallway near the new entrance to accommodate the building’s new flow of foot traffic. 


Get a status update on hemlock conservation

Learn about the current state of hemlock conservation in Western North Carolina during a presentation 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Spring Creek Community Center in Haywood County. 

Offered by the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, the talk will share what HRI and its partners are doing to protect these important trees, and how landowners and the public can get involved. 

Learn more at savehemlocksnc.org


Wrap up the year with Haywood Waterways 

After two years in virtual mode, the Haywood Waterways Association’s annual membership dinner will occur in person, 5:45 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska. The meeting will feature a year-end review and introduction from new executive director Preston Jacobsen, an awards ceremony honoring three “very deserving” watershed heroes, a holiday buffet dinner and a silent auction. Dinner is $25 per person, with a registration deadline of Thursday, Dec. 1. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.476.4667, ext. 1. 


Prescribed burns planned in Cherokee National Forest

Residents in the furthest west counties may see smoke over the next month as the Cherokee National Forest carries our prescribed burns on an estimated 21,850 acres in Monroe and Polk counties, Tennessee, which abut Graham and Cherokee counties in North Carolina. 

The planned burns include areas in the Tellico and Ocoee ranger districts of the national forest and will be conducted when weather and fuel conditions are favorable to do so safely. This window is expected to occur between now and the end of December. 

Prescribed fires are implemented in accordance with a written burn plan that prescribes specific weather and smoke dispersion conditions before crews proceed. Crews are responsible for igniting vegetation, monitoring the behavior and spread of fire, smoke, and ensuring fire is held by control features. Prescribed fire is used in the Cherokee National Forest for several reasons, including to reduce fire hazard, improve habitat, and to help manage for desirable vegetation.


Winter Lights tickets now on sale

Tickets are now on sale for Winter Lights, an open-air walk-through light show of more than 1 million lights running Nov. 18-Dec. 31 at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. 

This year’s event will feature familiar favorites like the 50-foot lighted tree and quilt garden, along with enchanting new details designed to delight and surprise. 

Ticket prices range from $30 to $60 per car depending on the date and entry time, with members receiving a $5 discount. Flex tickets are $75. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit ncarboretum.org/winter-lights.


New hours at Asheville Arboretum

Winter hours are now in effect at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. 

Through Nov. 16, the property will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Between Nov. 16 and Dec. 31, the Arboretum will close at 5 p.m. so staff can prepare for Winter Lights. Entry gates close one hour before the property. 


Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.