Mile High Swinging Bridge
One of the top highlights and memories of visits to Grandfather Mountain nature park is walking across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since 1952, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the bridge’s 360-degree panoramic views. America’s highest suspension footbridge gives easy access to the spectacular views atop Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, elevation 5,305 feet.
The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation (hence the name!). To reach the Mile High Swinging Bridge, drive the two-mile, winding scenic road up the mountain to the summit parking area by the Top Shop. Climb 50 stairs adjacent to the parking area or inside the Top Shop to reach the short pathway to the bridge. Also, an elevator in the Top Shop takes you to the third floor for a level walk to the bridge.
Inside the Top Shop, an elevator makes the Mile High Swinging Bridge accessible to people with mobility challenges, including those in wheelchairs. From the Top Shop, there is a paved 50-yard path to the bridge. Read more about our accessibility.
Tickets & Hours
Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge is included in your Grandfather Mountain admission ticket that includes many other things to do in our nature park. Buy tickets online and book a reservation time to enter the park. You do not need a separate reservation for the bridge. It’s open, weather permitting, every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. See hours.
More to Explore
Before or after visiting the Mile High Swinging Bridge, allow time to enjoy other parts of the mountain: wildlife habitats, Nature Museum, restaurant, hiking trails, roadside overlooks, picnic areas and more. See more Things to Do.
Nearby Hiking Trails
Trailheads to many of the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails are located near the Swinging Bridge. In fact, the 0.4 mile Bridge Trail takes you beneath the bridge, starting from the Black Rock parking area just below the summit. For details on our nearby trails, go to our Hiking Guide.
Bridge Tips & Tidbits
- Does it really swing? Very little — unlike the original one. Today’s bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety.
- We suggest you wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
- If heights give you pause, you can still enjoy Blue Ridge Mountain views from the ground before you reach the bridge and even from the parking area.
- Due to periodic extreme weather conditions at the bridge, it closes when there is area lightning, high wind or icy conditions.
- The official U.S. Weather Service Reporting Station atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge has provided daily weather observations since 1955. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the flatlands you see below. It’s also one of the windiest locations in North Carolina, with a 124-mph record set in winter 2019. Learn more about our weather.
- Pets are allowed on the bridge if well behaved and on a leash.
- Photographs and videos to remember your visit are encouraged. Be mindful of sharp drop-offs along the Linville Peak ridge. Drones are not allowed. See our photography policies.
- The Singing Bridge? When the wind blows, the Mile High Swinging Bridge “sings” in the same way as a harmonica.
- In April through October, join Grandfather’s expert naturalists by the Bridge for Interpretive Talks about the our unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. Read more.
- Need driving directions? The address for Grandfather Mountain’s entrance gate is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646 (click link for Google Maps). There are no shuttles, so you must have your own vehicle to explore our nature park. No RVs longer than 28 feet in length or hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. See detailed directions.
- To see much more info, see our Plan Your Visit section.
Mile High Swinging Bridge History
Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the Bridge’s dedication in 1952. The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.
The original 1952 bridge was designed by Charles Hartman Jr. of Greensboro, N.C. It was fabricated in Greensboro and then reassembled on top of the Mountain. Erecting the bridge took three weeks, a process slowed by inclement weather created by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast. Cost was $15,000. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1952 by North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead.
The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now, Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span. It was redesigned by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C., and rebuilt by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville. The cost of rebuilding was $300,000.