Highlands, NC

Highlands, situated in Macon County, is a town made up of 6.2 square miles.

2018 Best Guide to Highlands, NC

September 15, 2018

The town was founded in 1875. The town is home to the Highlands Country Club in the 1930s.  

Highlands NC is located in Macon County, in the Nantahala National Forest of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina.  

It is near Franklin, NC and Cherokee NC. Highlands is the highest incorporated settlement east of the Rockies. 

In 1875, two founders - namely Samuel Kelsey and Clinton Hutchinson - drew intersecting lines on the map from New Orleans to New York and Chicago to Savannah.  

They felt that where the lines crossed, namely Highlands, a future trading center of great importance would evolve.  

They clearly didn't take into consideration the rugged terrain of the area nor the fact that the horse and buggy would no longer be around. The result is Highlands grew into a health spa and summer resort.

By the early 1880's, Highlands was home to 8 country stores, offering groceries, general merchandise and hardware. It also had a post office, library, several churches, and a school.

When the Cullasaja River was dammed in the late 1920s, forming Lake Sequoyah, providing hydro-electric power, a beautiful road was built within the Cullasaja Gorge.

As a result, the population increased to about 500 and the summer visiting population increased to about 2,500 - 3,000.

In the 1930's a man named Bobby Jones created a very distinct golf course that in its time, and still today, a golfing sensation. That very same golf district today is to the south of Highlands on the 106 North Carolina Highway.

Waterfalls, such as the 45-foot high Bridal Veils Falls (the only waterfall in America where you can drive your car under - and the Quarry Falls that's popular with swimmers because of the nice swimming hole at the bottom.

Several lakes can be found in the Highlands area, so fishing is another popular pastime. The Cullasaja and Chattooga Rivers are hot spots for trout fishing.


The median resident age in Highlands is 64 years. The median estimated household income is about $60,000 making it about $12,000 more than the North Carolina average.

The estimated per capita is about $54,000. The average price for a home in Highlands is about $560,000 (2015) which is $400,000 more than the North Carolina Average. Expect to pay about $1,000 a month for rent.

The racial makeup of Highlands is 92% White, 6% Hispanic, 1% Two or more races, and 1% other. 97% of the population are high school graduates, with 51% holding a Bachelor's Degree or higher.

65% are married, 10% are divorced, 1% are separated, 10% are widowed, leaving 14% that have never been married.

Towns Nearby

Sky Valley, GA
Mountain Rest, SC
Franklin, NC
Mountain City, GA
Clayton, GA

Macon County

Highlands belongs to Macon County in the western part of North Carolina. Macon County was formed from a part Haywood County in 1828, and was named after Nathaniel Macon.

Macon County has a population of 34,000 and its largest town Franklin, with a population of 3,900, is the county seat.

Macon County borders Jackson, Swain, Clay, Rabun, Cherokee, and Graham counties.

Macon County is made up of 520 square miles. 516 of which is land with the remaining 4 as water.


The population of Highlands, NC is about 520. The population has been steadily increasing since the 1910s.


The elevation of Highlands, NC is 4,118 feet above sea level.

Zip Code

The zip code for Highlands, NC is 28741.

Area Code

The area code for Highlands, NC is 828.

Politics and Religion

Historically speaking Highlands and Macon County have voted mostly Republican, with 65% going to Mitt Romney during the 2012 Presidential Election. This represents the trend for the previous four or five elections.

As of 2010, 33% of the population are religiously unafiliated (Nones). About 61% are Protestants with Catholics and Other making up around 6%.


The unemployment rate for Highlands is about 5% (2015), making it equal to the state average of around 5%. Transportation, mining, and construction make nearly 50% of the most common industries in the town.

Newspaper & Obituaries

Highlands Newspaper, The Macon County News, and The Franklin Press are the primary newspapers that cover the Macon County area.