The Top Shop is proudly situated at the pinnacle of the Grandfather Mountain attraction. Not only does the Top Shop provide access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge via its elevator, but it is also home to a gift shop and a photo exhibition of the life and work of Grandfather Mountain’s founder, Hugh Morton.
Constructed in 1961 and rebuilt in 2010, the 6,220-square-foot Top Shop was designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the mountain’s lofty elevation, including winds in excess of 130 miles per hour and frequent sub-freezing temperatures during the winter.
One of the unique qualities of the building that guests tend to notice first are its sloped roofs, which were designed to protect the building from the prevailing northwestern winds, and the way it appears to blend in with its rocky surroundings. This is due to the fact that the building was constructed with “Grandfather Stone” or stone that was originally quarried from the mountain itself and later reused when the building was reconstructed.
When entering the Top Shop, guests are greeted by one of the mountain’s two gift shops, where they can purchase memorabilia of their trip to Grandfather Mountain, including T-shirts, sweaters, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, holiday ornaments, a wide assortment of souvenirs and much more. Snacks, drinks, restrooms and elevator access are also available to guests.
Planning on setting out on an adventure? The Top Shop parking area provides access to two of the mountain’s most popular hiking trails: The Bridge Trail, which crosses underneath the Mile High Swinging Bridge and connects to the Black Rock parking lot, and the Grandfather Trail, one of the most arduous and thrilling hikes on the mountain. On busy days, we direct all hikers who are setting out on the Grandfather Trail to park at the Black Rock Parking Lot, where they can access the Grandfather Trail via the Bridge Trail.
Guests can access trail maps, as well as hiking permits, by visiting the service counter inside the Top Shop. Grandfather Mountain staff are also happy to answer any other questions guests may have about the park.
On the second floor of the Top Shop resides the Hugh Morton photo gallery. Not only was Hugh Morton the founder of Grandfather Mountain and a renowned conservationist, he was also a world-class photographer. This exhibition chronicles the growth of Grandfather Mountain through the lens of Hugh Morton’s camera and features some of Mr. Morton’s most endearing imagery, including:
- History of Grandfather Mountain
- Construction of the Mile High Swinging Bridge
- Conservation Efforts
- North Carolina Sports Icons, such as Michael Jordon
- Mildred the Bear
- Morton’s World War II service
- Grandfather Mountain Wildlife
- North Carolina Landmarks
- Construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway
- The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
- Singing on the Mountain
- The Bridge to Bridge Bicycle Race
- Hang Gliders on Grandfather Mountain
The third floor of the Top Shop provides access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge and was specifically designed to provide guests with disabilities access to the bridge. Before heading to the bridge, do not miss your change to take a picture with Mildred the Bear. Mildred stands over one mile and four feet above sea level and invites guests to compare their height with hers.
This photo opportunity also presents families with young children a unique way to record their children’s growth over the years through photos and return trips to Grandfather Mountain.