1. What is included with admission?
Paid admission includes many things to do! At the Wilson Center for Nature Discover, find exhibits about the mountain, film theater, Mildred’s Grill restaurant and gift shop. Next door, walk through the Animal Habitats to see black bears, cougars, otters, elk and eagles. The Mile High Swinging Bridge and Top Shop visitors’ center are at the very top of the mountain. You also can access the hiking trails from the parking area at the bridge. See hours, rates and online booking.
2. Must I pay for parking?
No. Parking is included with the cost of admission.
3. Is admission charged per car or per person?
Admission is charged on a per-person basis. Advance reservations are required.
4. What are the proceeds used for?
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a nonprofit organization that strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.
All proceeds from sales of tickets and souvenirs go toward caring for and presenting Grandfather Mountain in a manner that inspires good stewardship in others.
5. Are the animals close enough to see?
Yes. The animals live in one- to two-acre enclosures that allow you to see them in their natural situations. The viewing areas are separated from the animals by water or are raised above the animals on high walls. The animals are free to wander through their habitats, but they may come as close as six feet from where you will be standing.
6. If I do not cross the bridge, will I miss anything?
No, you can see wonderful views without crossing the bridge, but if you do decide to cross you will be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding region. The one experience that cannot be duplicated is the rush that accompanies the actual crossing of the span.
7. How long of a walk is it to the bridge?
The elevator in the Top Shop will take you to the third floor for a level walk out to the Swinging Bridge. The walk from the elevator to the Swinging Bridge is about 50 yards.
You may also reach the Swinging Bridge from the parking area by climbing the 50 stairs on the outside staircase.
8. Do I have to drive or can I take a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain?
You drive your own vehicle up the two-mile road to the summit, stopping at overlooks, picnic areas and the Wilson Center as fits your own schedule. Shuttle service is available only to large groups traveling by bus.
9. Do you take credit cards?
We take Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
10. Will I fall off the bridge? Is it safe?
The bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety. We do ask you to wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
11. I only want to hike. Do I still have to pay admission?
If you would like only to hike the trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park without visiting the travel attraction (Swinging Bridge, wildlife habitats, etc.), you may access Grandfather Mountain State Park for FREE from off-mountain trailheads on N.C. 105 or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you would like to visit the attraction and hike the backcountry trails, access to the State Park trails from the Swinging Bridge area is included in your attraction admission.
12. How should I dress when I visit? How much colder is it up there?
It is normally 8-10 degrees cooler at the Bridge than at the Entrance Gate. Depending on what time of year you visit, you should dress in layers, such a T-shirt and sweatshirt or light jacket. Heavy jackets, caps and gloves are recommended in winter.
13. Do you have any place to eat there?
Yes, we have an 140-seat family restaurant, Mildred’s Grill, that serves soup, salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, chicken tenders, fries and more, including vegetarian options.
14. Can we bring our pets?
Pets are permitted inside the park on a leash. They are not allowed inside the buildings, due to health regulations, or in the Animal Habitats area.
15. Do you rent strollers or wheelchairs?
Due to insurance restrictions, Grandfather Mountain does not offer strollers or wheelchairs.
16. If the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed, does that mean Grandfather Mountain is closed also?
Grandfather Mountain is accessed from U.S. 221, so if the Parkway is closed, the park could still be open. The mountain opens weather permitting in the winter months.
17. I don’t want to get out of my car, just drive my family inside, do I have to pay?
Anyone who goes through the gate is required to pay admission. Once you pass through, you have access to the entire park with no other fees or charges.
18. How long is the average visit to Grandfather Mountain?
Setting your own pace, you may stop at overlooks and picnic spots along the way to the Wilson Center and animal habitats (half way up the Mountain) and the Mile High Swinging Bridge (at the summit). Although your visit can be as long or as short as you choose, we recommend that you budget at least 2.5 to 3 hours to see it all.
19. Do you allow motorhomes or RV’s?
No motorhomes or RV’s longer than 28 feet in length are allowed through the Entrance Gate.
No hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. Guests who wish to unhitch trailers and leave them at the Entrance Gate may drive through in the tow vehicle.
20. Can you walk or bike up the road up Grandfather Mountain?
Due to the steep grades and curves in the roadways, walking on the roadways is not permitted. Bicycling is not permitted on the roadways or on the trails.