Nelson Award

Don Nelson Award

Returning in 2025, the Don Nelson Award photography contest celebrates the late Don Nelson, who led Nature Photography Weekend for many years and was an inspiration to all. His love and admiration for Grandfather Mountain lives on through this contest and those that knew him.

Image above: 2020 Don Nelson Award Winner – Milky Way Over the Mile High Swinging Bridge by Yang “Will” Yu

Contest Requirements

  • Submission deadline for 2025: June 3 at 5 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Timing: Image needs to have been taken since the June 2024 Nature Photography Weekend.
  • Subject Matter/Location: Image must be taken on Grandfather Mountain, with one exception: Shots of Grandfather Mountain itself may be taken from off-park property. “Grandfather Mountain” includes the attraction (Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats, etc.) and Grandfather Mountain State Park (backcountry trails).
  • File Format: JPEG
  • Image size: Image must be sufficient size and quality for an 8 x 10 or 8 x 12 print. Just give us the maximum size/quality your camera and software will deliver, and you’ll generally be fine. Images can be cropped as long as the result meets the size requirements and fits a standard aspect ratio of 4:5, 3:4 or 2:3. (35mm SLR’s have a 2:3 aspect ratio.)
  • Contest Entry: Send your submission (one image per person, please) via email to by June 3, 2025 at 5 p.m. If you prefer to send via Dropbox or another file transfer program, please give us a heads-up that you are doing so via email. Entrants must be attendees of the 2025 Nature Photography Weekend event.
  • Please include “Don Nelson Award” in your email subject line. GMSF staff will rename the file for judging purposes.

The Award Winner will be announced the Friday night of the Nature Photography Weekend. Good luck!

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions