Grandfather Mountain, which climbs 5,946 feet over northwest North Carolina, is a location of incredible biodiversity and spectacular splendor. The mountain, which is part of the United Nations' Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve, is thought to be 300 million years old, with some rock formations dating back 1.2 billion years.
Guests pay an admission fee to drive through the park in their own vehicles, stopping along the way to enjoy a variety of activities such as native wildlife exhibits, the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, hiking trails, and the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, which connects two peaks one mile above sea level. The main draw is the exciting sensation of being on top of the world while gazing out across views of mountain ridge after mountain ridge falling to the horizon, which is easily accessible through a paved road to the 5,300-foot height on Grandfather's summits.
The Foundation offers several educational opportunities as well as popular annual events. Guests may enjoy several daily activities included with entry as well as extra unique experiences for an additional cost from April to October.
The state of North Carolina owns the remaining two-thirds of Grandfather Mountain's wild and undeveloped areas. Grandfather Mountain State Park is only accessible by foot, and tourists may climb many miles of hard alpine paths that go through or around rock cliffs and pinnacles (sometimes with the help of ropes and ladders) through high-elevation scenery unlike any other in the Southeast. Hikers can enter the State Park through one of two trailheads: the Profile Trail off N.C. 105 on the mountain's western side or the Daniel Boone Scout Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the mountain's eastern slope. There are no trail fees, but all hikers are required to register at the trailhead so that State Park rangers can keep track of how many people are on the trails.