Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
Grandfather Mountain will open its gates to High Country residents, employees and their guests for only $3 each April 2-30, as the park’s “Dollar Days” promotion returns in time for spring.
The promotion allows anyone who lives or works in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga or Wilkes counties — along with their guests traveling in the same vehicle — to visit at the discounted rate. Students attending a local college or university are also eligible for the discount.
Dollar Days guests must book their visit online. To take advantage of the reduced rate, guests must choose the Dollar Days admission rate when reserving their visit.
Upon arrival to the Grandfather entrance gate, Dollar Days ticketholders must present a valid driver’s license, college ID or local utility bill as proof of High Country residency. An employee identification badge or pay stub can be used to demonstrate employment at a High Country business.
Being that the special rate applies to all guests traveling in the same vehicle, only one Dollar Days ticketholder needs to present verification of local residence or employment. If the ticketholder does not display proof of local residency or employment, they and their party will be charged the full rate of admission.
The Dollar Days rate cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Only a limited number of Dollar Days passes will be available each day, in addition to general admission tickets, meaning folks should book their visit online.
“We’re excited to bring Dollar Days back for 2022,” said Frank Ruggiero, communications manager for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “And this is always an incredible time of year, as the mountain springs to life with warm weather, friendly faces and new things to do.”
Wilson Center for Nature Discovery
April also brings the final stages of construction on Grandfather Mountain’s new Wilson Center for Nature Discovery. Opening in early summer, the facility will include more than a dozen new state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, which will allow visitors to make real connections to the natural history, flora, fauna, geology and weather of the mountain. The building will feature 10,000 square feet of new education space, three classrooms, increased capacity for larger groups and an ADA-accessible auditorium.
Meanwhile, outside the center, guests will enjoy new outdoor learning spaces, including an amphitheater with terraced seating, a pavilion and botanical gardens. Learn more.
As such, temporary closures to portions of the park are possible in April, and visitors are encouraged to check www.grandfather.com for daily updates.
April is an ideal time to visit Grandfather Mountain, as the park’s flora and fauna become energized with the initial signs of warmer weather — and Grandfather Mountain’s talented team of educators is on hand to showcase these natural wonders, all included with the price of admission.
Starting April 1, Grandfather will begin offering daily programming, including Keeper Talks, during which guests can talk with park educators about the habitat animals — black bears, cougars, river otters, bald eagles and elk — and watch them receive an enrichment. Enrichments are special treats, new toys or unfamiliar scents designed to break up the animals’ routines and help keep them active and intellectually stimulated. Keeper Talks run between 10 and 20 minutes and are held daily, every half hour, April through October, in the environmental wildlife habitats area.
The Community Science Weather program spotlights Grandfather Mountain’s weather — known as some of the most extreme weather in the Southeast. Through this program, guests can help staff record data that is then passed on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This 10-minute program is held daily at 11 a.m. at Grandfather’s Pollinator Garden behind the Nature Museum.
Grandfather’s Junior Naturalist program sees park educators help younger guests (ages 5 to 10) use scientific tools to make observations about natural phenomena. These 30-minute programs take place at the Pollinator Garden and are held at 11:30 a.m. on weekends April 2 to May 22, daily May 28 to Aug. 21, and weekends Aug. 27 to Oct. 30.
Peaks and Profiles interpretive talks invite guests to join park educators near the Mile High Swinging Bridge to learn more about the mountain’s unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. These talks run between 15 and 20 minutes and take place daily at 1 and 3 p.m. near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
Animal Encounters invite guests to come face-to-face with some of the mountain’s off-display educational animal ambassadors, such as opossums and snakes, while a park educator answers questions about that particular animal. Encounters last about 30 to 45 minutes and are held weekends at 2 p.m. near the main entrance to the environmental wildlife habitats, weather permitting.
To learn more about Grandfather Mountain’s daily programs, visit www.grandfather.com/daily-programs/.
Also in April, Grandfather Mountain is bringing back special experiences, like Meet the Bears and Behind the Scenes tours, available at an additional cost.
Meet the Bears Tours take participants behind the scenes to meet some of Grandfather Mountain’s resident black bears and learn all about them, including their names, daily routines, care, histories and more. Meet the Bears Tours are offered on weekends, April through October. Tours last approximately 30 minutes and are offered at 11 a.m. Reservations are required.
Behind-the-Scenes Habitat Tours allow guests to see where the cougars, otters and elk sleep overnight, meet black bears that are not commonly on display, learn the ins and outs of what it takes to care for the animals year-round, observe a training session and find out why the animals call Grandfather Mountain home. Behind-the-Scenes Habitat Tours are offered on weekends, April through October. Tours last 45 minutes and are offered at 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. Reservations are required.
To learn more about Grandfather Mountain experiences, visit www.grandfather.com/experiences/.
Also starting April 2, Grandfather Mountain will begin offering extended spring hours, meaning the park will be open daily, weather permitting, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with ticket sales ending at 4:30 p.m.
The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325.