Anyone who works or lives in Mitchell, Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany or Wilkes counties, along with guests traveling in the same vehicle, are invited to visit Grandfather Mountain for $3 per person during the month of December 2015 with proof of local employment or residency. (MORE)
The arrival of winter brings exciting changes to the Grandfather Mountain landscape, along with new nature programs and two easy ways to save on park admission.
Visitors to the Linville park this season will be enthralled by exhilarating winter scenery, an 11-foot Christmas tree in the Nature Museum, Reeca’s famous vegetable beef soup and a wide selection of holiday gifts for nature lovers at the gift shop.
But for the first time this year, the twinkling of solar-powered Christmas lights also will be visible at the Mile High Swinging Bridge and possibly other locations on the Mountain.
An anonymous donor has provided four, 200-foot strands of LED bulbs that rely exclusively on the sun for power. They will be affixed to the Bridge intermittently, as weather conditions allow, between now and December 25.
“The opportunity to see the bridge decked with lights is definitely a new surprise for visitors this season,” said Catherine Morton, secretary of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Board of Directors. “Back in the 1980s, we tried hanging a lighted star from the bridge for the holidays, but we’re not aware of any other time this has been done.
“We hope these lights will provide some holiday cheer while also demonstrating the merits of solar lights.”
Grandfather Mountain also makes use of solar thermal panels, rain barrels, compact fluorescent lighting and other sustainable features that help to preserve and protect this unique natural environment. In fact, the Stewardship Foundation’s very mission is to “inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.”
Nature Programs Scheduled
Anyone who has ever wondered about the quintessential Christmas tree, the Fraser fir, can join staff naturalists for a “Nature on the Mountain” program throughout the holiday season.
Naturalists will discuss the Fraser fir and the red spruce, two high-elevation trees that create a unique ecosystem atop the highest peaks, as well as other plants and animals that inhabit the mountain.
The 20-minute program will be held at 1 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 29-Dec. 28, in the second floor of the Top Shop Visitor Center (location subject to change due to weather). If weather permits, it may include a brief walk outdoors to observe the natural world up close.
Two Ways to Save
Grandfather Mountain also offers two simple ways to save on park admission during this joyful season.
As a gesture of support for local tree farmers, anyone who arrives at the mountain with a tree atop their vehicle or a receipt from a local tree farm will receive $2 off each adult admission and $1 off each child admission.
December also marks the return of Dollar Days for local residents. From Dec. 1-31, anyone who lives or works in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga or Wilkes counties will be admitted to the mountain for only $3 per person, with proof of local employment or residency.
In lieu of cash, Grandfather Mountain also will accept three cans of food from local residents for distribution to local food pantries. Christmas tree discounts may not be combined with Dollar Days discounts.
“Anyone who thought Grandfather Mountain was entering its winter hibernation is mistaken,” said Kellen Short, public relations specialist. “We invite anyone seeking relief from the Christmas rush to enjoy a moment of stillness and serenity with us at 5,280 feet.”
Grandfather Mountain is open daily throughout winter, weather permitting, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. When winter weather arrives, please call the Entrance Gate at (828) 733-4337 to confirm the day’s conditions and set the stage for a memorable outing. For more information, call (800) 468-7325 or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.