Recently, we’ve started to feel the shift in the temperature here in North Carolina. Burning hot temps in the 90s are slowly giving way to cooler 70 & 80 degree days, making it the perfect time to get some last minute end-of-summer outdoor activities in before the weather gets too cool. This is the kind of weather I prefer for my outdoor plans; it’s not so hot or cold that you can’t actually enjoy the time you spend outside. That’s why I love fall so much!
There are so many great ways to spend time outdoors here in NC, but one of the best and most popular attractions is Grandfather Mountain. Located near Linville, it borders the Grandfather Mountain State Park and it is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains with an elevation of almost 6,000 feet, which gives visitors access to some absolutely stunning views! The views aren’t the only thing the high rise in elevation brings, though; it also accounts for 16 different ecological communities on the mountain. Grandfather Mountain is recognized by The Nature Conservancy as an ecological sight of global significance because it is home to more globally-rare species than any other mountain east of the Rockies!
And if animals are your thing, Grandfather Mountain is definitely the place to be. Take a walk on any of the mountain’s scenic nature trails and you’re sure to spot lots of birds, squirrels and other friendly forest animals all around you. If you’re hoping to see something a little more on the wild side, though, you can visit any of the mountain’s seven environmental habitats, where you’ll see everything from cougars & bears to white-tailed deer and river otters. What’s so unique about seeing the animals here as opposed to somewhere like a zoo, is that the environmental habitats are built around the actual home of the animals. So, instead of taking the animals from nature and placing them in man-made enclosures, you get to see the animals interacting in their own natural habitats. In many cases, you’re able to see the animals from only a few feet away, which is a very unique experience.
Another one of the biggest tourism draws for Grandfather Mountain is the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Yes, it is actually a mile above sea level, and yes, it does swing! The bridge was first built in 1952, and then rebuilt (using the original towers) back in 1999. I remember taking a trip to the mountain when I was in the 3rd grade and being absolutely terrified of the bridge when it started moving back and forth with the wind. I wasn’t old enough then to appreciate the amazing 360-degree panoramic views the bridge offers, but now it’s one of my favorite places to visit, and apparently it’s a favorite of most visitors to the mountain. The bridge has been a top highlight on surveys for years now. As a little girl from my church (who recently took her first trip to the mountain) put it, “You can see the WHOLE world from up there!” Check out this video from www.romanticasheville.com, and you’ll know what she means!
After you’ve had your fun visiting the local animals and taking in the mile-high sights, you can visit the Nature Museum and learn about the history of Grandfather Mountain & the surrounding areas, or grab a bite to eat at Mildred’s Grill & The Fudge Shop. It’s easy to make a day of it at Grandfather Mountain, and it will definitely be a day that you’ll enjoy!
No matter what you do this weekend, I hope you have a “mile-high” time!