Media: Grandfather Overview
Hello writers and reporters! Below is a general overview of Grandfather Mountain – with links for topic information. Contact us for many story ideas and more detailed information.
Towering 5,946 feet above sea level in northwest North Carolina, Grandfather Mountain is a scenic travel attraction recognized by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Preserve of global importance. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation owns and operates the attraction with many things to do and engages in research, education and conservation activities.
The mission of Grandfather Mountain is to steward the property in the way that protects the natural wonder of the geographic landmark and offers the traveling public access to its fantastic scenery.
To ensure the permanent protection of the wild character of Grandfather Mountain, the heirs of the late Hugh Morton, who inherited the mountain in 1952, sold almost 2,500 acres of the mountain’s wilderness backcountry to the state of North Carolina for a state park. This 2008 transaction also included the sale of a permanent conservation easement on the attraction area. Read more about our history.
Guests pay an admission fee to drive their own vehicles through the park, stopping along the way to enjoy a variety of activities. The main attraction is the exhilarating feeling of being on top of the world while looking out across views of mountain ridge after mountain ridge retreating into the horizon.
The Mile High Swinging Bridge is a 228-foot suspension footbridge that connects two peaks at one mile above sea level. Visitors say that the only thing that compares to the rush of crossing the bridge itself is the spectacular 360-degree view from the other side.
The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery is located about halfway up the mountain, opening in summer 2022. It doubles the size of the original Nature Museum with more than a dozen new state-of-the-art interactive exhibits to explore the natural history, flora, fauna, geology and weather of the mountain. After touring the exhibits, take a break for lunch at Mildred’s Grill. Find souvenirs, outdoor gear and art in the gift shop. Watch films and attend fascinating programs inside the ADA-accessible auditorium. See excited children learn from the mountain inside three classrooms.
The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery is part of the larger “Conservation Campus”. Outside the center, outdoor learning spaces include an amphitheater, a pavilion and botanical garden.
Environmental habitats for native wildlife offer an up-close perspective of black bears, river otters, cougars, bald eagles and elk in their natural surroundings. Separated from the animals by moats or elevated above the habitats on high retaining walls, the viewing areas allow guests to stand only a few feet away from animals few would ever see in their daily lives.
Staff naturalists offer an array of interpretive programs that allow them to share their love and enthusiasm for all things natural with Grandfather Mountain’s guests. The entertaining and informative programs are offered on a regular schedule and are included in the cost of admission.
Grandfather Mountain’s alpine hiking trails vary in difficulty from a leisurely walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. A number of gentle paths designed to offer a low impact foray into nature can be accessed from the summit road. Those seeking greater adventure can hike into Grandfather’s backcountry, where many of the trails rely on ladders and cables to help hikers negotiate steep grades and sheer cliff faces.
Grandfather Mountain is located on U.S. Highway 221, two miles north of Linville, N.C., and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 305.