4 Things To Do at Grandfather Mountain for All Ages & Interests

Only a two-hour drive from Charlotte, Grandfather Mountain offers visitors the chance to get close to nature and beat the heat.
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Only a two-hour drive from Charlotte, Grandfather Mountain offers visitors the chance to get close to nature and escape the Charlotte summer heat. Average mountain temps in July in August hover around 68 degrees.

Towering 5,946 feet above sea level and over a mile high, the nonprofit nature park (not to be confused with the neighboring Grandfather Mountain State Park) strives to inspire conservation of the natural world through a variety of outdoor activities that are safe and fun for the whole family.

1. Mile High Swinging Bridge

Grandfather Mountain’s most popular attraction is the world-famous Mile High Swinging Bridge.

Measuring at a mile in elevation and suspended over an 80-foot chasm, the bridge provides 360-degree views, cool temperatures—sometimes 20 degrees cooler than surrounding areas—high winds, and one-of-a-kind adventure in the clouds.

On a clear day, guests can even see the Charlotte skyline some 80 miles away, as the crow flies.

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Grandfather Mountain’s most popular attraction is the Mile High Swinging Bridge, offering panoramic views of the entire Western North Carolina High Country—and, on a clear day, the Charlotte skyline, some 80 miles away. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

 

2. Walking & Hiking

Perfect for hikers of all ages, Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from nature walks through forests and meadows to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks.

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Hikers can access the trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park at no charge from the trailheads outside of the attraction. Tickets are required to access the park trails from the Swinging Bridge. Adults are $22, children (4-12) are $9. AAA and senior discounts are also available.

The in-park nature trails are low impact and were designed to allow visitors to experience the woods without a long and strenuous commitment.

The terrain of the backcountry hiking trails are very different from other areas of the South. The trails take visitors through forests usually found in Canadian climates and many use ladders and cables to climb sheer cliff faces.

 

3. Wildlife Habitats

Grandfather Mountain, owned and operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, has been recognized by the United Nations as a nature preserve of global importance.

With 16 distinct ecological communities spread out over varied elevations, the mountain is home to more than 72 rare or endangered species.

It’s also home to environmental wildlife habitats, where visitors can see the park’s resident black bears, cougars, river otters, bald eagles, and elk, all of whom were either rescued or orphaned in the wild or born into captivity before arriving at Grandfather, therefore unfit to be released back into the wild.

These habitats are specifically tailored to each of the animals featured on the mountain and reflect their native homes in the wild. This allows guests to safely observe the furry and feathered residents in their natural environment, while also giving the animals ample room to wander as they please—even if it means being out of sight for some privacy.

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Grandfather Mountain is home to environmental wildlife habitats, featuring black bears, cougars, bald eagles, river otters and elk, all of whom were either orphaned or injured in the wild or born into captivity before arriving at Grandfather, therefore unable to be released back into the wild. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

 

4. Junior Ranger Program

For younger guests, Grandfather Mountain’s Junior Ranger Program provides a fun way for kids to stay engaged during their visit to the mountain. During your visit, pick up a Junior Range booklet from the Nature Museum. The booklet offers a scavenger hunt to help explore the park trails, wildlife and cool nature facts. Before you leave take your completed Junior Ranger booklet to the Entrance Gate to take the official Junior Ranger pledge and receive your honorary badge and certificate.

Also check out the Daily Junior Ranger Program lead by mountain staff at 11:30 a.m. daily (near the Butterfly Gardens) from April-September.

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If you’re looking for a bite during or after a fun-filled day, Mildred’s Grill is a family restaurant located in the park’s nature museum that serves soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Guests can have their orders packed to-go and are welcome to dine at one of more than 100 picnic tables located at overlooks and other scenic areas throughout the park.

Grandfather Mountain is now operating under its extended summer hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (with ticket sales ending online at 5:30 p.m.). Note: All tickets must be purchased online. Only a select number of tickets will be sold each day for certain time slots to limit the number of guests in the park. Portions of the park may close for inclement weather. As such, guests are encouraged to call 828-733-4337 to check on the day’s conditions before visiting. Click here to book your visit online.

The nonprofit 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 www.grandfather.com to book your visit.

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