Grandfather Mountain: Wonders Never Cease

The views are ancient. The experiences are all brand new.

Standing at 5,946 feet above sea level — more than a mile high — Grandfather Mountain has been celebrating and sharing the wonders of the natural world since 1952.

Spring and summer are some of the most ideal times to visit the nonprofit nature park in Linville, N.C. — less than 15 miles from Boone and 70 miles from Asheville — as temperatures on topare typically 10 degrees cooler than those at the base of the mountain, which are at least 10 degrees cooler than in the surrounding flatlands.

One of the park’s best known attractions is the world-famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, a 220-foot suspension footbridge that spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation, offering panoramic views of the Western North Carolina High Country.

But there’s more to Grandfather Mountain than just views. The park features access to over 12 miles of pristine alpine hiking trails, offering experiences for explorers of all skill levels, with some of the more adventurous trails connecting to the adjacent Grandfather Mountain State Park.

All throughout Grandfather Mountain, guests are likely to spot squirrels, songbirds and other forest animals. But what about the more elusive wildlife? It only takes a visit to the park’senvironmental wildlife habitats to come face to face with black bears, cougars, river otters, bald eagles and elk.

The majority of Grandfather’s habitats are built around the animals’ actual native habitats, allowing visitors to see them in their natural elements, while offering the furry and feathered denizens ample acreage to roam as they please, even if it means being out of sight for some privacy. 

All of Grandfather’s resident animals were either rescued after being injured or orphaned in the wild or born into captivity, meaning they’re unfit for release back into the wild.

To bridge outdoor fun with education, the mountain’s staff of naturalists, rangers and habitat keepers hosts a variety of interactive programs, such as animal encounters, interpretive talks and hikes, a Junior Ranger program for kids, behind-the-scenes tours of the habitats and more. 

The park also features a nature museum, documentary auditorium, restaurant, 100-plus picnic sites, fudge shop (featuring free samples of homemade, sustainably crafted fudge), special events and more — all included with admission.

Furthermore, every dollar spent on Grandfather Mountain goes right back into the mountain itself, ensuring it will be preserved for generations to come through the efforts of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Grandfather Mountain is located at 2050 Blowing Rock Highway (U.S. 221) in Linville, N.C., just one mile from milepost 305 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For more information, including a schedule of events, call (800) 468-7325 or visit www.grandfather.com.