Naturalist Programs

Naturalist Programs

Watch a nature program on TV with the sound turned down and you will enjoy the beauty and drama, but turn the sound up and you’ll also be enlightened with lots of interesting details that bring extra meaning and interest to the images you see unfolding on the screen.

So it is when you visit Grandfather Mountain in the company of one of our staff naturalists.  Any time you visit you will enjoy the breathtaking scenery and entertaining animals, but tag along with a staff naturalist and you’ll take away a much greater understanding of what you have seen and a much deeper appreciation of how rare and wonderful this Mountain truly is.

Our Naturalists and Interpretive Rangers offer an array of programs that allow them to share their love and enthusiasm for all things natural with Grandfather Mountain’s guests.  From slide programs on otters and bears to a hands-on show-and-tell with animal skins and deer antlers, from a close-range interaction with a barred owl to guided hikes across Grandfather’s rugged peaks, Grandfather’s naturalists will be happy to tailor any sort of interpretive activity that will make your experience of Grandfather Mountain fun and meaningful.

Many programs are offered on a regular schedule and are included in the cost of admission.  Other programs are available upon request and will require an additional activity fee. Call 828-733-4326 for details, or email Chief Naturalist Mickey Shortt at

Naturalists’ 2015 Program Schedule

May 15-17
Naturalist Weekend
A full weekend of fascinating nature programs, including bird counts, wildflower walks, wildlife workshops and guided hikes for all ages! Programs included with regular admission.

Daily, June – August
Daily Nature Programs
Check the message boards at the Nature Museum or the Top Shop to see what topic the program of the day will cover! Some of the presentations offered include: nature walks, wildflower walks, history talks, interaction with live owls, talks on forest composition, nature near the Swinging Bridge, and animal workshops on butterflies, salamanders, and each of the animals that reside in Grandfather’s animal habitats. Programs are scheduled for 1 p.m. and will last about 1 hour. Free with park admission.

June 1-14
The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble
Marvel and learn about the spectacular blooms that brighten the hillsides in this guided walk series at Grandfather Mountain. Offered daily at 1 p.m. Included with regular admission.

July 24-25
The Grandfather Campout
Stay overnight on Grandfather Mountain and join in exciting nature programs throughout the weekend. Great for first-time campers and families seeking a mountain adventure. Registration opens May 1.

Saturday, Sept. 12
Join Grandfather Mountain for a day of events celebrating the nature and culture of the North Carolina mountains. Traditional storytelling, mountain music, guided hikes, face-painting and more. Included with regular admission.

Saturday, Sept. 19
Girl Scout Day
Girl Scouts enter Grandfather Mountain free to take part in thrilling nature programs while bonding as a troop. The 2015 event will focus on the theme of insects.

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18
The Colors of Grandfather
Grandfather Mountain naturalists lead guided walks to showcase the changing leaves and explain the science behind the annual phenomenon. Included with regular admission.

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  • My family and I visited from NJ. If you love nature, you will love Grandfather Mountain. It is a steep drive in your car, but worth it for a wonderful view. There is hiking at many different levels, animals and great picture taking. Enjoy!

    Villa, NC
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