2050 Blowing Rock Hwy., Linville
HOURS: Apr.–May and Oct.–Dec. daily 8 a.m.–6 p.m.,
June–Sept. 8 a.m.–7 p.m.,
Jan.–Mar. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
COST: $15 adults, $13 seniors (60+), $7 children 4–12,
free children under 4
At its peak, Grandfather Mountain is 5,946 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After operating under private ownership for decades, the nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation took over the tourist attraction in 2009, while the North Carolina State Park division acquired the 2,600 acres of undeveloped land, including hiking trails, making Grandfather Mountain State Park the 34th state park in North Carolina.
It’s best known for the mile-high swinging bridge, which was built in 1952 and offers stunning views of the vast parklands below. It’s the highest swinging bridge in the nation.
The main visitors center offers an introduction to the region, including exhibits on former Native American inhabitants, flora and fauna, and wildlife. Just a few steps from the visitors center there is a zoo of sorts. Animal habitats house black bears, cougars, and deer—the same animals that inhabit the nearby backcountry.
The 12 miles of hiking trails that wind through the park are hailed as among the best in the South and include short nature walks as well as strenuous climbs. The route to the top of Grandfather Mountain requires traversing narrow wooden ladders and grasping frayed ropes to scramble over sheer rocks.
With advanced reservations and for a fee (828/733-4326) it’s possible to take a guided hike with a naturalist.