Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain rises nearly 6,000 feet into the western North Carolina sky and is one of the tallest mountains in the Blue Ridge Mountains chain. It is located on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest to the northeast of Asheville. This is more than just a lofty peak, however. Grandfather Mountain features a number of interesting manmade attractions. These attractions include a swinging bridge that links two of the mountain’s rocky peaks and a series of enclosed wildlife habitats that allow people to get up close looks at cougars and a variety of other animals that are native to the region. There is even a viewing tank that houses river otters. Also found on the attraction side of Grandfather Mountain is a nature museum that highlights minerals and various other things that are native to the state. The other side of Grandfather Mountain is a state park, and it is commonly referred to as the backcountry half. Fees apply for the attraction side, while the state park doesn’t cost anything to enjoy.

Grandfather Mountain Bridge

Grandfather Mountain Bridge
Grandfather Mountain Bridge

The Grandfather Mountain Bridge, or the Mile High Swinging Bridge, as it is officially known, was built in 1952 and has been a popular North Carolina attraction ever since. Its mile-high elevation helps to explain the name, not to mention the reason why some people are afraid to cross it. Those who do choose to cross the Grandfather Mountain NC Bridge enjoy scintillating views of the surrounding region and get their fair share of thrills. The bridge is completely wheelchair accessible, and elevator access is available in the Top Shop. Those who don’t take the elevator to the bridge can access it by climbing a set of stairs that lead from the attraction side’s parking area. This parking area, and the attraction side in general, can be accessed via Grandfather Mountain Entrance Road, which begins at 2050 Blowing Rock Highway in Linville.

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Image: Helen Moss Hopper

No discussion about Grandfather Mountain would be complete without mentioning its Highland Games festival. This annual event celebrates the Scottish ancestry of many of the area’s residents and is widely considered to be the best event of its kind in the country. Many Scottish family lines are represented at the Grandfather Mountain NC Highland Games, and should you attend the festival, you can surely expect to see plenty of people wearing kilts and other Scottish regalia. July is the month for this renowned event. Admission fees apply.

Grandfather Mountain Campground

Grandfather Mountain Campground
Grandfather Mountain Campground

On the state park side of Grandfather Mountain, visitors can stay overnight, provided that they have a proper permit. There are 13 backpack camping sites along the park’s trail system, and they include a site that features a simple shelter. Permits are also required for those who wish to go hiking in Grandfather Mountain State Park. The hiking trails come in a variety of forms. Some are easy, while others rank among the most difficult hiking trails in the eastern United States. Permits for camping or hiking can be obtained at two places. One of these places is the Profile Trailhead parking area off Highway 105. The other place is found along the Tanawha Trail before accessing the Nuwati and Daniel Boone Scout Trails that are found just off the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. As a side note, the regulations for camping and hiking on Grandfather Mountain NC are likely to change in the near future, so it can be a good idea to inquire about such things beforehand. Inquiries can be made to the North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation.

Grandfather Mountain Hotels

Grandfather Mountain Hotels
Grandfather Mountain Hotels

For those who prefer staying in a hotel as opposed to camping, there are plenty of hotels near Grandfather Mountain. In the nearby community of Linville, for example, you can find the Gable Haus Country Inn & Linville Cottages and the Eseeola Lodge at Linville Golf Club (pictured). The town of Banner Elk is also a good place to begin a search for Grandfather Mountain Hotels. Among others, the lodging choices in Banner Elk include the Perry House B&B, the Banner Elk Inn B&B and Cottages, and the Best Western PLUS Mountain Lodge at Banner Elk. For those who are interested in finding more area lodging options, the town of Boone is also close to Grandfather Mountain. As for some of the other major attractions in the general area, they include ski resorts, Blowing Rock, and the Linville Caverns. No wonder so many travelers choose to book a stay at one of the area lodging establishments.

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