The 720-acre Grandfather Mountain travel attraction is operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that was established in 2009 and aims to “Inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.” All proceeds from sales of tickets and souvenirs go toward caring for and presenting Grandfather Mountain in a manner that inspires good stewardship in others.
The State of North Carolina owns 2,500 acres of Grandfather’s undeveloped backcountry, which it operates as Grandfather Mountain State Park. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation maintains an active role in the protection and maintenance of Grandfather Mountain State Park area.
Harris Prevost, Vice President
Harris joined Grandfather Mountain, Inc. in 1978 and became a Vice President in 1992. Over the years he served as President of the NC Travel Industry Association, North Carolina High Country Host, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and the Southern Highlands Attractions Association. He also served as Chairman of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Foundation Board and Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Mountain Resources Commission
Jesse Pope, Assistant Vice President & Director of Education and Natural Resources
Jesse came to Grandfather in 2002 as a wildlife keeper and backcountry ranger. In 2004, his extraordinary knowledge and friendly demeanor led management to ask him to develop a Naturalist program for Grandfather Mountain. He quickly took the program from the seed of an idea to the experience that visitors tell us adds the most value to a visit. As assistant vice president for the Stewardship Foundation, Jesse develops and oversees educational experiences, conservation efforts, and resource management while insuring that educational programming aligns with GMSF’s mission and state and national guidelines for environmental education.
Grandfather Mountain and its rocks reveal a long history of rock formation and mountain-building that dates back to 1.1 billion years ago. Today the mountain you see is the end product of two things: the mountain-building that culminated 300 million years ago and the erosion that has been ongoing for over 100 million years and continues today.
Geologically and biologically, the Grandfather Mountain Biosphere Reserve is much larger and includes lands owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, the US Park Service and the US Forest Service.
2015 Admission Rates
Mile High Swinging Bridge
The bridge was built in 1952. It was first constructed in a plant in Greensboro, NC, and later erected on Grandfather over a three-week period in the late summer of 1952.
The first person to cross the bridge was Merle Umstead, the 9-year-old daughter of dedication speaker Gov. William B. Umstead.
The Bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel.
The new design was prepared by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C. Construction was completed by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville at a cost of $300,000.
One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span.
UN Biosphere Reserve
In 1992, Grandfather Mountain was accepted into the international network of biosphere reserves. As of May 2009, there were 553 biosphere reserves in 107 countries.
Criteria for selection as a Biosphere Reserve are that the property must be:
- a sample of a unique ecological community
- permanently protected from uncontrolled development
- with a history of scientific research and monitoring
- that provides for training of resource management professionals
- and is dedicated to consciousness-raising with respect to current ecological issues.
The Nature Conservancy
Grandfather’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy began in 1990 when Grandfather Mountain, Inc. began donating or selling a series of conservation easements that forever protect the Grandfather Mountain backcountry from development.
|Year||Obtained by TNC From:||Acreage|
|1990 to 2001||Grandfather Mountain, Inc. donated conservation easements (legally binding agreements not to change the natural character of the property)||1,460 acres from the crest of GM to the Blue Ridge Parkway in what is known as the GM Backcountry|
|1993||Property donated by the Wilmor Corp., of which Hugh Morton was a junior partner||357 acres on the north slope of GM near the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184|
|1993||Property purchased from the Wilmor Corp. with a grant from the Stanback Foundation||291 acres on the north slope of GM near the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184|
|1993||Property purchased from a group of local investors with a grant from the Stanback Foundation||300 acres on the north slope of GM above Inverlea resort.|
|1996||Property donated by the Wilmor Corp.||47 acres on the north slope of GM near the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184|
|2000||Linville Resorts||322 acres on the south slope of Grandfather at the headwaters of Grandmother Creek|
|2004||Easement sold by Grandfather Mountain, Inc. to TNC at one half its fair-market value. The sale was financed by a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a fund established by the General Assembly of North Carolina to protect and restore water quality in the Tar Heel state.||925 acres at Boone Fork Creek (the headwaters of the Watauga River running from the top of Calloway Peak to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Julian Price Park)|
|2006||Easement sold by Grandfather Mountain, Inc. to TNC at one half its fair-market value. Funds for the purchase were awarded to the Conservancy by the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund.||73 acres that encompass the Profile Trail, including 3,000 feet on both sides of the Watauga River.|
|June 2009||Grandfather Mountain sold 2,700 acres of the Grandfather Mountain backcountry to the state of North Carolina for the Grandfather Mountain State Park. All of those acres are under the permanent protection of Nature Conservancy easements.|
In all, The Nature Conservancy manages almost 1,300 acres on Grandfather Mountain – with an additional 2,700 acres protected by Nature Conservancy easements and managed by North Carolina State Parks.
Grandfather Mountain supports 16 distinct ecological communities, each supporting its own unique web of life. It is Grandfather’s abrupt rise above the valley floor that causes the change in elevation and climate conditions that supports such a diversity of life.
- Fraser Fir Forest
- Red Spruce-Fraser Fir Forest
- Heath Bald
- High Elevation Red Oak Forest
- Montane White Oak Forest
- Northern Hardwood Forest – Typic Subtype
- Northern Hardwood Forest – Beech Gap Subtype
- Bolderfield Forest
- Rich Cove Forest
- Acidic Cove Forest
- Canada Hemlock Forest
- Montane Calcareous Cliff
- High Elevation Seep
- Spray Cliff
- High Elevation Rocky Summit
- High Elevation Granitic Dome
Longitude & Latitude of Bridge
The north end of the Mile High Swinging Bridge is located at 36 degrees 05 minutes 43.088 seconds north latitude, 81 degrees 49 minutes 55.406 seconds west longitude. The other end of the bridge is positioned at 36 degrees 05 minutes 41.079 seconds north, 81 degrees 49 minutes 56.749 seconds west.
G1 – (5 or fewer occurrences worldwide)
Spruce Fir Moss Spider (arachnid)
Blue Ridge Goldenrod (vascular plant)
Frullania appalachiana (liverwort)
G2 – (6 to 20 occurrences worldwide)
Spreading Avens (vascular plant)
Rock Gnome Lichen (lichen)
Bazzania nudicaulis (liverwort)
Plagiochila sullivantii (liverwort)
Sphenolobopsis personii (liverwort)
Grandfather Mountain Lepodontium (moss)
Bent Avens (vascular plant)
Roan Mountain Bluet (vascular plant)
Heller’s Blazing Star (vascular plant)
Velvet Covert (mollusk)
High Mountain Supercoil (mollusk)
G3 – (21 to 100 occurrences worldwide)
Bog Turtle (reptile)
Eastern Small-footed Bat (mammal)
Appalachian Woodrat (mammal)
Weller’s Salamander (amphibian)
Plagiochila virginica (liverwort)
Plagiochila austinii (liverwort)
Trailing Wolfsbane (vascular plant)
Wretched Sedge (vascular plant)
Tall Larkspur (vascular plant)
Gray’s Lily (vascular plant)
Azalea vaseyi(vascular plant)
Rota’s Feather Moss (moss)
Pigmy Salamander (amphibian)
Mountain Bittercress (vascular plant)
Carolina Saxifrage (vascular plant)
Roan Rattlesnakeroot (vascular plant)
Appalachian Golden-banner (vascular plant)