Grandfather Mountain is a U.N. International Biosphere Reserve (one of only 507 worldwide) and this is the only privately owned one. It is home to 70 rare or endangered species. It is estimated to be 65 million years old but the rock underneath is 1.2 billion years old and consists of 5,000 protected acres. It is named for its profile which looks like an old man staring at the sky.
The day I was there it was 27-29 degrees F and the wind was blowing almost 30 MPH so the wind chill was about 16 degrees. Brrrr. The highest windspeed ever here was 200 MPH in 2006 and the most snow was in 1996 with 116 inches total. Lowest ever temperature was minus 32 degrees F but highest was only 83 degrees F. 120 days a year the windspeeds exceed 60 MPH.
Grandfather Mtn. has one of the highest swinging footbridges in America at more than a mile above sea level with views of the southern Appalachians. The peak is at 5,964 feet high.
There is an animal park with eagles, otters, deer, panthers, bears and hawks and a Nature Museum with films, exhibits, giftshop, and snack bar.
There are miles of Alpine hiking trails but getting to the bridge only requires minimal hiking. Picnic tables are everywhere but watch for the hairpin turns and turnouts on the winding road up to the visitor center.
There are also numerous events and activities throughout the year so be sure to check their calendar for events and the plants blooming schedules.
Admission is about USD $16 per person.
Open daily except Thanksgiving & Christmas, weather dependent.
North Carolina's only "Show Cavern" inside Humpback Mountain was discovered in 1822 when fisherman discovered trout swimming in and out of a cavern entrance. The caverns history dates back millions of years and has been used as recently as 150 years ago by deserters of the American Civil War.
Guided and informative 30 minute tours are given throughout the day inside the constant 52 degree F cavern. Expect to see fish in the stream, bats, and insects. Bring your camera with flash
There is an adjacent giftshop that features rock specimens, local pottery, toys, souvenirs, and rock and onyx jewlery.
Take a jacket and watch both your steps in some areas and watch your head for low-overhanging rocks but the cavern is wheelchair accessible--a rarity.
Open daily March-November & weekends only in winter.
Tickets are USD $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for children
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