Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC is a North Carolina state park. It’s one of the highest peaks at 5,946 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes by the south side of the mountain.
Grandfather Mountain operated as a nature preserve and tourist attraction until 2008. Known for its mile-high swinging bridge, the bridge links the mountain’s two rocky peaks.
On September 29, 2008, the state of North Carolina Governor announced that it had agreed to purchase 2,600 acres of the undeveloped portions of Grandfather Mountain from the Morton family for $12 million. It has since been added to the North Carolina State Park system, becoming the 34th North Carolina state park.
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation was established by the Morton family to continue to operate Grandfather as an educational nature park. In addition, the Morton family agreed to form a new non-profit organization and transfer ownership of the attraction. This arrangement was made as an alternative to the state acquiring the entire mountain.
Grandfather Mountain rises 5,946 feet above sea level, and due to the considerable elevation gain the mountain boasts 16 distinct ecological communities. The mountain is famous for its rugged character, and is home to many hidden caves and significant cliffs.
Two rivers originate on Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River, flowing east, and the Watauga River, which flows west. Many lesser streams also originate on the slopes of Grandfather, including: Upper Boone Fork, Little Wilson Creek, Wilson Creek (North Carolina), Stack Rock Creek, and others.
Like many other mountain peaks above 5000′ in North Carolina, an “island” of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest grows on top of Grandfather Mountain. Though once thought to be on the verge of dying out during the 20th century, the forest has flourished despite intrusion of a non-native species. You’ll notice that a number of fir trees have been permanently bent by the high winds. In addition to fir trees, these “mountaintop islands” are a valuable and threatened habitat for many other flora and fuana that grow and thrive in higher elevations like that found on Grandfather Mountain.
Besides the Mile High Swinging Bridge, numerous other attractions now make up the mountain is via an entrance road, marked at 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646. To get in you must pay a fee at the main gate, and are as follows: adults – $18, seniors – $15, children 4–12 – $8, and children under 4 are free. On occasion, the park gives discounts due to certain activities and times of year.
“Backcountry” hiking and camping are FREE and can be accessed via areas marked with the state park sign. In years past when the whole mountain was privately owned, hikers and campers were required to pay fees and still are today.