Grandfather Mountain

From a distance you can see the face that serves as the namesake for this park, and up close you’ll find amazing views, native wildlife, and the famous mile-high swinging bridge. Photo by Jason Tarr.

Visit Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is an iconic peak 75 miles north of Asheville, N.C. just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina. The area is known for its incredible vistas and unmatched ecological diversity. On a clear day at Grandfather Mountain (elevation 5,946 feet), you can see the Charlotte skyline 90 miles away. The area is called Grandfather Mountain because of early pioneers who recognized "the face" of an old man on one of the cliffs, which provides access to the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, wildlife habitats and the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery.

The easiest way to experience Grandfather Mountain is by exploring the family-friendly, non-profit park attraction (not a state or national park), which provides access to the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, wildlife habitats and nature museum. Included in the park is Forrest Gump Curve, the scene of one of the locations where Tom Hanks' character runs in the movie Forrest Gump. The backcountry area adjacent to the private attraction is known as Grandfather Mountain State Park and is most often accessed by experienced hikers.Grandfather Mountain stands out against a blue sky during fall 2020

Top Things to Do at Grandfather Mountain

Mile High Swinging Bridge — As the name suggests, the Mile High Swinging Bridge is a mile above sea level and offers you a thrilling platform for admiring the 360-degree panoramic views at Grandfather Mountain. Cross the bridge to reach Linville Peak. The bridge is America’s highest suspension footbridge. The Grandfather Mountain Mile High Swinging Bridge is located at the top of the Park.

Wildlife Habitats — Just below the top of the Park, you’ll find seven environmental habitats that are tucked behind the museum and restaurant. These habitats give you the opportunity to see elusive wildlife such as black bears, cougars, bald eagles, river otters and elk. Unlike exhibits found in zoos, these enclosures were built around the animals’ native habitat.

Wilson Center for Nature Discovery — Explore more than a dozen interactive exhibits designed to share the flora, fauna, weather, geology and natural history of Grandfather Mountain. In Hodges Theater, enjoy a video about the mountain.

Hiking — The network of 11 trails at Grandfather Mountain will take you through gentle forests and across rugged peaks. For the most experienced hikers, the Grandfather Trail is considered one of the most technical hikes in the southeast. Using a series of ladders and cables, this trail takes you 2.4 miles from the Mile High Swinging Bridge to Calloway Peak. Hikers often choose to take the Grandfather Trail out and return back on The Underwood Trail, a strenuous trail with just one ladder. There are backcountry trails that may be accessed for free from outside the Park.  

Picnicking — With more than 100 picnic tables to choose from and grills scattered throughout the Park, Grandfather Mountain is the perfect place for a scenic picnic.

Dining — Enjoy a meal at Mildred’s Grill with indoor and outdoor dining, and don’t forget to purchase some of the homemade fudge!

Events — Grandfather Mountain hosts guided nature hikes, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and photography clinics among many other events throughout the year.A vibrant array of colors at Rough Ridge with Grandfather Mountain seen behind

Plan Your Visit to Grandfather Mountain

What to Know

COST: Admission is required to enter Grandfather Mountain. Current rates are: $24 for adults, $22 for seniors (60+), $10 for children and no charge for children under age four.

Grandfather Mountain's backcountry trails (which link to the Park's Mile High Swinging Bridge) may be accessed for free from outside of the Park attraction. However, these trails are long and strenuous hikes that typically require most of the day to complete. There is no shuttle available. Should you choose to have someone pick you up in the Park, admission applies.

HOURS: Grandfather Mountain is open 7 days a week throughout the year. Hours vary by season but Grandfather Mountain typically opens by 8 or 9 a.m. Please see the Grandfather Mountain web site for seasonal hours.

WEATHER: Given Grandfather Mountain’s high elevation, weather can often be quite different from lower lying areas. Dress in layers and be prepared for shifting weather conditions. The park is open in the winter, weather permitting. Be sure to call ahead to check the opening status during the colder months.

HIKING: Access to the State Park trails from the Swinging Bridge area is included in admission. You may access some backcountry trails for free from off-mountain trail heads on NC Highway 105 or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

ACCESSIBILITY: Much of Grandfather Mountain is accessible to those with limited mobility. For example, the "Top Shop" at the summit provides elevator access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It is a few hundred yards from the building to the bridge, and one bench is located near the bridge.

CHILDREN: Grandfather Mountain park is a family-friendly attraction, including for toddlers. Parents are encouraged to supervise children at all times and exercise caution, especially on the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

PETS: Dogs are permitted in the Park as long as they are on a leash. They are not allowed inside of buildings due to health regulations.

REACHING THE PARK: If the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed due to inclement weather, Grandfather Mountain is still accessible from U.S. Highway 221.


From downtown Asheville, take I-240 to I-40 E. Take Exit 85 toward Marion. Turn left at the bottom of the ramp and go one mile to the stoplight. At the stoplight, turn left and follow US Highway 221 North for 30 miles to the entrance of Grandfather Mountain.

Grandfather Mountain can also be accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway by exiting the Parkway at milepost 305.  

Source: Grandfather Mountain