With winter on the way, Grandfather Mountain is decking its halls — and hills — for the holidays.
Visitors are invited to celebrate the season from a mile high, where they’ll encounter idyllic winter scenery, invigorating outdoor adventure and more at the Linville nature park.
The park will offer two simple ways to save on admission during the holiday 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 area food pantries. Christmas tree discounts may not be combined with Dollar Days discounts.
Grandfather Mountain’s gift shops carry a variety of artisan crafts and goods, as well as signature Grandfather Mountain souvenirs, from apparel to hiking gear to drinkware and all things in between. The mountain is home to a sustainably operated fudge shop. Although the shop is only open Thursday through Sunday during winter, fudge will be for sale daily in Mildred’s Grill, located in the Nature Museum. Orders can be placed for pickup or home delivery by calling 828-733-6518 or 828-733-1058.
The Adopt-an-Animal program allows participants to symbolically adopt any of Grandfather Mountain’s furry or feathered residents, including black bears, river otters, cougars, bald eagles, elk and more.
By adopting an animal, individually or on behalf of a friend, family member or loved one, the sponsor will receive a special gift package. Gifts vary, depending on the donation level, and can include photographs, plush toys, plaster footprint castings, day passes and more. Visit www.grandfather.com/support/give/adopt-an-animal/ to learn more.
People also may treat park animals to gift items and enrichments. An enrichment is a special treat or toy designed to break up the animals’ routines and help keep them active and intellectually stimulated. Those interested can visit their wish list at http://amzn.to/1Qr6gfU. For more information, email email@example.com.
The Keeper for a Day program provides a unique opportunity to spend a half-day shadowing and working alongside the keepers of Grandfather Mountain’s environmental wildlife habitats, observing various training sessions, animal behavior and the inner workings of the park’s habitats.
Keeper for a Day runs April through October, but reservations are accepted year-round. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shoppers can purchase an annual membership to Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club. Starting at $30 for children and $70 for adults, Bridge Club membership offers unlimited, free admission to Grandfather Mountain for a year, exclusive discounts on and off the mountain, invitations to special member programs, a Bridge Club car decal and more. Group passes are also available.
To learn more, visit www.grandfather.com/product/bridge-club-membership/.
Visitors also are invited to enjoy an epic New Year on Grandfather Mountain with the first sunrise of 2020.
This special event will allow guests the rare opportunity to visit Grandfather Mountain outside of regular operating hours.
“These events are popular among nature lovers, photographers of all skill levels and anyone hoping to see the Blue Ridge Mountains in a new light,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park. “Sunrise on Grandfather Mountain is nothing short of magnificent.”
Sunrise is estimated to take place at 7:38 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, and Grandfather’s gates will open at 6:30 a.m. Due to safety regulations, participants may only visit the Mile High Swinging Bridge area, including the Top Shop, during the event. The park will offer complimentary coffee, cocoa and bearclaws for sunrise guests.
Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight and to wear heavy winter jackets, hats, gloves and rubber-soled shoes, as there may be slick surfaces on the mountain. The event may be cancelled upon short notice in case of inclement weather.
Admission to the New Year’s sunrise event is $35 for adults and $24 for children. Guests are free to remain in the park all day, but those who leave before 9:30 a.m. will have their general admission charge refunded. Bridge Club members, who receive free admission to the mountain, will only pay $10 for the sunrise event.
The event is open to no more than 100 participants, and registration is required. To register, contact Judi Sawyer at email@example.com or 828-733-2013.
Grandfather Mountain is owned and operated by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain.
All of the park’s funding is derived from admission, souvenir sales, food and beverage sales and donations, 100 percent of which goes right back into the mountain, ensuring its pristine beauty is preserved for generations to come.
Charitable giving also benefits the park’s many educational programs and initiatives, such as the Field Trip Scholarship Fund in Memory of Nathan Pribble, which helps groups from underfunded schools come to Grandfather Mountain’s “classroom in the clouds.”
Those hoping to contribute in their or someone else’s name may do so by visiting www.grandfather.com/support/give, which allows them to sponsor a particular project, such as the Fulfilling Promises Capital Campaign, or donate to a cause of their choosing.
Grandfather Mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in winter, weather permitting, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. During times of inclement weather, park opening is delayed until all roads and paths can be cleared of snow and ice. As such, those planning a trip are encouraged to contact the park’s entrance gate before visiting to confirm the day’s conditions.