NOTE: As of Friday, Sept. 23, tickets for this event are officially sold out. For more information, call (828) 733-8715.

090716_gfm_bonfire_1_ssVisitors are familiar with Grandfather Mountain’s resident animals, including black bears, bald eagles, mountain lions and more.

But what do they do after dark?

Guests can find out Saturday, Oct. 1, at Grandfather Mountain’s annual Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, a nighttime event that features spookily fun stories told by firelight and rare after-dark tours.

From 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., folks of all ages can enjoy hot chocolate and warm apple cider by the brilliant glow of a bonfire. The event is BYOS (Bring Your Own S’mores), but the mountain will provide marshmallow roasting sticks, cider, hot chocolate and seating.

From there, guests will join Grandfather staff members on a nocturnal trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) and the environmental wildlife habitats.

“It’s a unique opportunity to see the mountain and our animals at night,” said Emma Noto, assistant habitats curator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Linville nature preserve and travel attraction. “We incorporate a lot of nocturnal adaptations that the animals have, so our guests will learn all sorts of different things than they would during the daytime up here.”

090716_gfm_owl_gmsfAn “Owl Prowl” will take participants on a search for the mountain’s feathered denizens of the night, during which guides will attempt to communicate with the birds through recorded owl calls. As it turns out, the owls really do give a hoot.

“On our last Owl Prowl, the barred owls were very, very responsive, talking back a lot,” chief habitats curator Christie Tipton said. “It was really cool.”

Furthermore, some of Grandfather’s educational animals, such as Taz the Skunk, Herbie the Screech Owl and Shakespeare the Barred Owl, will even make an appearance.

“It’s just a really fun experience for the whole family,” Tipton said, “because they get a variety of different activities to do throughout the night, from listening to stories to walking around the mountain after dark to experiencing the night without a flashlight.”

As one can imagine, it gets dark — very dark.

“By the time we take the last tour, it’s pitch black, and you can’t see anything,” Tipton said. “Although the owls can see you.”


Planning to Attend?

Grandfather Mountain’s Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight returns Saturday, Oct. 1, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The cost is $20 per person, and participants must be at least 8 years old to attend. Space is limited, meaning registration is required by clicking here.

For the event itself, guests are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets, flashlights and s’mores ingredients to enjoy around the fire.

For more information, call (828) 733-8715, or email

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 visit