With a 546-square mile radius and a population of about 57,000, Haywood County is the third largest county in western North Carolina after Buncombe and Henderson Counties.
First established in 1808, Haywood County was named for John Haywood, North Carolina treasurer from 1787 to 1827. Unlike the other 99 counties in the state, all the water in Haywood County originates in Haywood County, including the Pigeon River. The annual average temperature is 54 degrees; the temperature averages 38 degrees in January and 71 degrees in June. Haywood County averages 47.5 inches of rainfall and 12.2 inches of snowfall each year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way around the county with four entrances to this scenic byway and its many hiking, viewing and picnic spots along the way.
The most famous natural attraction in the area is the Great Smoky Mountains. Haywood County is home to part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the U.S. The area has recently been designated a Blue Ridge Heritage area and is well known for its creativity in arts and crafts.
Fourteen peaks in the Great Smoky Mountains soar to elevations of at least 6,000 feet (more than any east of the Mississippi River), and the county is one of the highest, with a mean elevation of 3,600 feet, east of the Rockies. Notable mountain peaks include Cold Mountain—the basis for the award-winning, best-selling novel by Charles Frazier and the ensuing 2003 major motion picture—at 6,030 feet, Mt. Guyot at 6,621 feet and Richland Balsam at 6,410 feet in elevation.
Other mountain ranges include the Balsam Mountains, which borders on the west side of Haywood County. The Balsams offer seven types of forests and has peaks of more than 6,400 feet. There are also the Nantahala Mountains nearby. The Nantahala National Forest at 516,000 acres is North Carolina's largest national forest, spanning from Waynesville to Murphy, Fontana and Cashiers. It is also home to the Nantahala River Gorge, a nine-mile stretch of the Nantahala River, which offers a haven for whitewater rafters
Haywood County is centrally located in the Southeast region of the United States and easily reached from most places, either by automobile or plane. Haywood County is located only 20 minutes west of Asheville, NC and 20 minutes east of Cherokee, NC. Driving time to Haywood County are as follows: two hours and 30 minutes from Atlanta; four hours and 30 minutes from Charleston, S.C.; two hours and 20 minutes from Charlotte; three hours and 30 minutes from Columbia, S.C.; one hour and 15 minutes from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; one hour and 30 minutes from Greenville, S.C.; one hour and 30 minutes from Knoxville, Tenn.; four hours and 30 minutes from Raleigh, N.C.; 10 hours from Tampa, Fla.; and eight hours from Washington, D.C. Asheville Regional Airport is located about 40 minutes east of Haywood County, and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is just over an hours drive from Haywood County.
Health & Higher Education
Haywood Regional Medical Center provides 184 beds and over 120 physicians. Haywood Community College has more than 55 curricular programs and a student population of more than 2,000. Unique programs include the only fish and game wildlife program in North Carolina, Forest Management Technology, Pulp and Paper Technology and a four-year program in Professional Crafts that includes clay, fiber, jewelry and wood. Also, Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, both highly accredited universities, are each 30 minutes away.
The county has a strong support system for small business with the combined efforts of a Small Business Incubator and the Small Business Center at Haywood Community College’s High Technology Center. The Haywood County Economic Development Commission and Haywood County Chamber of Commerce are actively involved in the support of existing businesses as well as attracting new business to the area.
Businesses interested in working with Haywood County Government can find more information by clicking on our Haywood County Vendor Guide.
Haywood County Towns
Four towns — Canton, Clyde, Maggie Valley and Waynesville — are located within the county, which has a population of about 57,000 people.
Canton has a population of about 4,200 people and is located along the Pigeon River in the eastern part of the county. Incorporated in 1837, Canton is home to a historic paper mill and the historic Colonial Theater. Haywood County’s oldest church, now First Baptist Church in Canton, was established in 1801 as Locust Old Fields Church.
Clyde, a small town of about 1,400 people just west of Canton, is home to Haywood Community College and Haywood Regional Medical Center. Called the “oldest frame house west of the Blue Ridge” by Preservation North Carolina, the Shook Museum at the Shook-Smathers House is located in Clyde and offers tours of this historic structure, circa 1795.
Maggie Valley received its name when John Setzer established its first post office in 1904, naming the newly incorporated town after his 14-year-old daughter Maggie. Today, much of Haywood County’s tourism activity originates in Maggie Valley, with such attractions as Wheels Through Time, an all-American transportation museum with a working collection of 250 rare antique motorcycles and automobiles; Ghost Town in the Sky, the newly renovated and reopened wild-west theme park; and Cataloochee Ski Area, the Southeast’s longest operating ski resort.
Waynesville, the county seat and the oldest town in Haywood County, was officially incorporated in 1871. With a population nearing 10,000, Waynesville is the largest town in Western North Carolina west of Asheville. Waynesville has garnered several honors and recognition, including being voted as a “low-cost Eden,” best undiscovered town, best Main Street town, best small town, and best mountain town in the third edition of America’s 100 Best Places to Retire, published by Where to Retire magazine.
In addition to these four towns, Haywood County also is home to Lake Junaluska Assembly, a camp and conference center for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church in the United States, and headquarters of the World Methodist Council, a consultative body that links almost all churches in the Methodist tradition. The 200-acre lake is a popular destination for tourists and local residents, offering everything from a stroll along the lake through an array of roses to a paddle boat trip on the lake. Lake Logan Episcopal Center is a 300-acre retreat center that is available for spiritual retreats, business conferences, seminars and family reunions.
Local newspapers include The Mountaineer, the Smoky Mountain News and the Asheville Citizen-Times, which operates a bureau in Haywood County. WLOS 13, an ABC affiliate based in Asheville, also provides coverage of news and events in the county.
Did you know: Fast Facts about Haywood County