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.
Things To Do At Grandfather Mountain
The Mile High Swinging Bridge: A true landmark of a pioneering spirit, the Mile High Swinging Bridge welcomes all visitors to admire 360-degree panoramic views from Grandfather Mountain. The bridge has been in place since 1952 — and for just as long it’s excited the thousands who’ve walked across with the thrills of mile-high elevation. Whether you cross it to challenge yourself, for the scenery, or to admire this engineering masterpiece, the experience will make your trip to Grandfather complete.
Explore the Trails: One thing about Grandfather Mountain is that the more you see of it, the more incredible it is. The network of nature walks and trails can take you through gentle forests and meadows or, if you choose, through rugged terrain navigated by ladders and cables. Either way, you can glimpse the wildest of wildlife and more of the breathtaking views for which Grandfather is famous. Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. It is in the backcountry of Grandfather Mountain State Park that you come up against the more challenging hikes. Hikers can access the the trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park for FREE from trailheads outside the attraction. Access to the trails from the Swinging Bridge requires the purchase of a ticket to the attraction.
Check Out the Wildlife Habitats: Take a walk on Grandfather Mountain, and you’re likely to spot squirrels, songbirds and other forest animals. But what about the more elusive wildlife? It only takes a visit to one of the seven environmental habitats to see cougars (which no longer live in the wild in the Southern Appalachians), white-tailed deer, black bears, bald eagles and river otters. Observing these animals up close in their native settings, it’s easy to imagine what it would be like to come face-to-face in the wild.
Environmental habitats are large enclosures that allow visitors to see animals in natural settings. Unlike the exhibits found in city zoos that bring in plants and boulders to recreate an appropriate setting, these enclosures were built around the animals’ actual native habitat.
Viewing areas give visitors an up-close perspective of the animals as they live in the wild. Separated from the animals by moats or elevated above the habitats on large retaining walls, these viewing areas allow you to stand only a few feet away from animals you probably wouldn’t see in your everyday life. A special aquarium-like viewing area allows you to enjoy watching the playful otters above or below the water.
Visit the Nature Museum: The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum houses more than two dozen excellent exhibits designed to educate guests about the natural history of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding region. As guests enter the gallery, they encounter the finest collection of North Carolina gems and minerals available on public display. The cases contain some 62 different kinds of minerals (350 specimens in all), including crystals of the state’s famed emeralds and rubies and the largest amethyst ever found in North America.
Getting There: From Boone, take N.C. 105 South to Linville. Turn left at the stoplight, and take U.S. 221 North two miles to the Grandfather Mountain Entrance Gate. From Asheville, take I-40 East to Marion. Take Exit 85. Turn left at the bottom of the ramp, and go one mile to a stoplight. At the stoplight, turn left and follow U.S. 221 North to the Grandfather Mountain Entrance Gate (about 30 miles).