Anyone who visits Grandfather Mountain discovers a place that inspires awe through natural wonders.
You’ll never experience the same mountain twice: today you might come face-to-face with an owl, another day you may see rare wildflowers in bloom. Just talk to one of our naturalists to understand more about these living treasures and learn where to find them. There’s nowhere else on Earth that you can enjoy such a variety of mountain life in one amazing place.
Situated 15 miles south of Boone and towering nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, Grandfather Mountain is a wonder of natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unbeatable views.
The mountain is most well-known for the Mile High Swinging Bridge: a 228-foot suspension footbridge crossing a chasm 80 feet off the ground. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the High Country—all the way to Charlotte on a clear day.
Grandfather Mountain is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including those featured in its wildlife habitats, such as black bears, eagles, elk and river otters. These animals, all of which were either injured, orphaned in the wild or born into captivity, are almost all native species to Grandfather Mountain. They are housed in habitats built around their true native environments.
Each day, April though October, visitors to the mountain can join the naturalists and habitat keepers for interactive programs with the animals. These include a short presentation about the animal, some Q&A and an enrichment—an activity done with the animal to stimulate them, such as offering them a favorite treat or a unique scent.
“During an enrichment, you might see the river otters chasing fish around their pond, the bears frolicking with a perfume-scented box, or the cougars playing with rolls of toilet paper like giant housecats,” says Christie Tipton, Grandfather Mountain Animal Habitats Curator.
For visitors looking to get some exercise, Grandfather Mountain has access to more than 12 miles of hiking trails to suit a wide range of hikers—from those looking to take a leisurely stroll through the woods, to those seeking a more rigorous hike up the mountain featuring cables and ladders.
Families seeking kid-friendly adventure can pick up a Junior Naturalist guidebook, then embark on an educational journey to earn their Junior Naturalist badge and certificate.
Visitors to Grandfather Mountain can bring their own lunch to enjoy at one of the 100 picnic sites located at scenic spots around the park, or they can stop in for a hearty lunch at Mildred’s Grill.
Now Open! The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery
The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, that opened early summer 2022, nearly doubles the size of the original Nature Museum with more than a dozen new state-of-the-art interactive exhibits exploring the natural history, flora, fauna, geology and weather of the mountain. Outside is a botanical garden, and an amphitheater and pavilion open this year. New programming and experiences also coincide with the new Wilson Center.
The nature park will hold synchronous firefly viewing events this year and will host many noted conservationists June-September for the Grandfather Presents speaker series.
Grandfather Mountain is owned and operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring conservation of the natural world. Admission and purchases made in the park all go toward preserving the mountain for future generations and supporting the foundation’s mission.
Advance reservations are strongly encouraged. To learn more and book your trip, visit Grandfather.com.