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Field Course: Southern Appalachian Sky Islands

July 27, 2024 @10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Join Gary Kauffman as we learn about what makes Southern Appalachian Sky Islands so unique. These Pleistocene relics have retreated to the highest elevations of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and are home to many rare and endangered species that are not found anywhere else in the state, region and world! We will explore the Sky Island of Grandfather Mountain and discuss the similarities and differences from its neighboring Sky Islands in the region.

Gary Kauffman is a Botanist and Plant Ecologist for the United States Forest Service based in Asheville, N.C. He is responsible for managing the botany program across 1.1 million acres across four North Carolina USFS units from the mountains (Nantahala and Pisgah), the piedmont (Uwharrie), and the coastal plain (Croatan). His work includes forest level planning, maintenance and restoration of rare plants and communities and non-native invasive plant management.

Program Itinerary
10:00 – 10:15 – Meet at the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery and Introductions
10:15 – 12:00 – Classroom lecture on Southern Appalachian Sky Islands
12:00 – 12:30 – Lunch at Wilson Center
12:00 – 3:30 – Exploring the Grandfather Mountain Sky Island
3:30 – 4:00 – Wrap up/Q&A/Evaluations

What’s included?
Your program cost includes admission into the park, field instruction and transportation during your program (you may drive your own vehicle to visit sites on the mountain if you would prefer). It does not include meals or lodging. Bringing a bagged lunch is recommended for most field courses, although Mildred’s Grill will be open to attendees. Tips are not accepted for field courses. However, donations to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation are accepted if you would like to recognize a program.

This event costs $60 for general admission and $51 for members of Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club – plus tax. Registration opens below on June 11, 2024, at 10 a.m. Limited to 20 participants.

General Clothing List
Much of your time will be spent outdoors and all programs are held rain, snow or shine. You should be prepared for a variety of mountain weather conditions and temperatures. Appropriate clothing, equipment and footwear are very important.


  • Daypack with enough room to carry extra clothing, water, lunch, camera, etc.
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking boots


Equipment Specific to this Course:

  • Note pad and writing utensil
  • Long pants and preferably long-sleeved shirts are strongly encouraged as we will be walking through the woods.
  • Sturdy hiking boots or closed-toed shoes are required


Adult Field Courses generally sell out and have a waiting list associated with the event. If you cannot attend the field course that you are registered for, a full refund will be granted within a five-day notice of the day of the field course. This allows time for individuals on the waiting list to make accommodations to attend the event. We ask that individuals who are sick with any illness to stay home to ensure the health and safety of other participants, our staff and the field course instructors – refunds will be granted to these individuals.


July 27, 2024
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category:

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