Due to COVID-19, Grandfather Mountain has canceled its 2020 autumn special events.

According to park leaders, the nonprofit nature preserve would be unable to safely accommodate the volume of additional guests and their families who visit Grandfather Mountain for certain special events, while helping ensure their safety, as well as that of other guests and staff.

Currently, Grandfather Mountain is limiting its capacity to prevent crowding and encourage social distancing.

Cancelled events include:

  • Junior Ranger Day – Sept. 12
  • Girl Scout Day – Sept. 26
  • Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight – Oct. 3
  • Beary Scary Halloween – Oct. 31

The park will tentatively host its Fall Color Ramble, to be held Oct. 3-11 and feature daily, 20-minute guided walks through the mountain’s most colorful areas, wherein a staff naturalist explains the science behind the annual phenomenon. On these outdoor walks, guests must maintain a safe social distance or wear a face covering if social distancing is not possible.

The park hopes to resume all special events in 2021.

Mile-High Safety

Following a two-month closure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Grandfather Mountain reopened in May, with ticket sales moving to an online reservation system.

In accordance with N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phased “reopening” of North Carolina, the park is strictly limiting visitor numbers to follow social gathering guidelines and requiring that guests wear face coverings indoors and when outdoors if safe social distancing cannot be maintained.

The park has also implemented enhanced health and safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and federal, state and local authorities.

While guests may still enjoy Grandfather Mountain’s many wonders, including the Mile High Swinging Bridge, environmental wildlife habitats and hiking, the park will be operating in a more limited capacity to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

  • Now, rather than purchasing tickets at the park’s entrance gate, visitors must do so online at www.grandfather.com by placing a reservation for a set date and time of entry. This measure aims to help limit the number of guests in the park at one time, in accordance with the state’s social gathering guidelines.
  • Per State of North Carolina regulation, guests must wear face coverings in all indoor facilities, as well as outdoors when safe six-foot distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Park officials have enacted operational measures to discourage crowds and encourage social distancing. Guests must follow directional signage during their visit, including limiting the number of people at overlooks and certain areas of the park.
  • The park’s on-site restaurant, Mildred’s Grill, reopened its dining room with limited seating and each table separated by 6 feet, but will continue to offer takeout, allowing guests to dine in their vehicles or at one of the park’s 100-plus picnic sites.
  • High-traffic pedestrian areas, such as the Mile High Swinging Bridge and wildlife habitats, have implemented a one-way directional system to ensure that guests do not come within six feet of each other — the minimum safe distance recommended by the CDC and other health officials.
  • The number of guests allowed to visit such areas at one time will be limited, based on state social gathering recommendations, while a time limit will ensure that others can participate in turn. However, guests are welcome revisit such areas during the same trip. Time limits will be not be enforced for the park’s less crowded, lower-traffic areas.
  • The park has enhanced its already stringent cleaning procedures and placed additional sanitization stations in key areas, while boosting staff presence to direct traffic flow and encourage safe social distancing.  
  • Guests who do not comply with park rules and regulations may be asked to leave.

The park’s reservation-based ticketing system is available at tickets.grandfather.com. Reservations are fully refundable and may be exchanged for a later time and date. All passholders must also use the reservation system to book their visits.

Operational procedures and opening status are subject to change, based on current conditions and federal, state and local regulations. As such, those planning a trip are encouraged to visit www.grandfather.com for updates.

The not-for-profit 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, or plan a trip at www.grandfather.com.