Media FAQ

Kids raising their hands
Elevator
Ownership Key Personnel
Elevation Geologic Age
Acreage Location
Traveling Distances Season
2013 admission rates Attendance
Employees Swinging Bridge
UN Biosphere Reserve The Nature Conservancy
Ecological Communities Elevation Change
Longitude & Latitude of Bridge Rare Species

Elevator

The new Top Shop provides  elevator access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, making the span truly handicap accessible for the first time.

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Ownership

The 720-acre Grandfather Mountain travel attraction is operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that was established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest, and participate in educational and research activities. 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.

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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.

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Key Personnel

 

Harris Prevost, Vice President
Has worked at Grandfather Mountain since 1972. Past president of the North Carolina Travel Council, North Carolina High Country Host, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and the Southern Highlands Attractions. Current President of the North Carolina Travel Industry Association.

Jesse Pope, Director of Education and Natural Resources

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Elevation

5,946 feet at Calloway Peak

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Geologic Age

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.

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Acreage

Approximately 3,200 acres. About 2,500 acres of that is Grandfather Mountain State Park and 720 acres is the scenic travel attraction operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

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.

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Location

Located on US 221, one mile south of the intersection of US 221 and the Blue Ridge Parkway and two miles north of Linville, North Carolina

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Traveling Distances

75 miles northeast of Asheville, 100 miles northwest of Charlotte, 50 east of Johnson City, TN, 19 miles south of Boone, 15 miles south of Blowing Rock

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Season

Open all year, 8 AM to dusk spring to fall; 9 AM to 5 PM, weather permitting, in winter. Closed Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.

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2014 Admission Rates

$20 adults (13-59); $18 seniors 60+; and $9 children 4-12. Under four free. Discount rates available for groups of 20 or more when booked in advance.

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Attendance

Approximately 250,000 people per year.

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Employees

36 full time, 55 additional seasonal employees

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Mile High Swinging Bridge

The Mile High Swinging Bridge is named for its elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The bridge is 228 feet long and spans a chasm that is 80 feet deep.

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.

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UN Biosphere Reserve

In 1971, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) began a worldwide program designed to help land managers share scientific knowledge and practical experiences.

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.

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The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy considers Grandfather Mountain an ecological site of global significance, as it provides habitat for more globally rare species than any mountain east of the Rockies.

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.

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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.

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Ecological Communities

Grandfather Mountain supports sixteen (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

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Elevation Change

To the North and West, Grandfather rises 1,500 feet above the Linville River Valley. To the South and East, Grandfather rises 4,000 feet above the Catawba River Valley.

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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.

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Rare Species

Grandfather Mountain is habitat for 73 rare species. Of these, 32 are globally imperiled:

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)
Waterfan (lichen)
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)

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    Elmhurst, NY
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