HOME OF THE MILE HIGH SWINGING BRIDGE
About Grandfather Mountain
A true landmark of a pioneering spirit, the Mile High Swinging Bridge welcomes all visitors to admire 360-degree panoramic views from Grandfather Mountain. The bridge has been in place since 1952, and for just as long it’s excited the thousands who’ve walked across with the thrills of mile-high elevation.
Mile High Swinging Bridge
A true landmark of a pioneering spirit, the Mile High Swinging Bridge welcomes all visitors to admire 360-degree panoramic views from Grandfather Mountain. The bridge has been in place since 1952, and for just as long it’s excited the thousands who’ve walked across with the thrills of mile-high elevation. Whether you cross it to challenge yourself, for the scenery or to admire this engineering masterpiece, the experience will make your trip to Grandfather complete. The swinging bridge is now completely wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator in the Top Shop. The 228 foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. Surveys show that the journey to the other side is always considered a highlight of a trip to Grandfather Mountain. The bridge was built and dedicated in 1952 an designed by Charles Hartman, Jr. of Greensboro. In 1999, the bridge was rebuilt using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not need to be repainted. Now Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to paint the span.
Walking and Hiking
Grandfather Mountain’s network of nature walks and trails can take you through gentle forests and meadows or if you choose, through rugged terrain navigated by ladders and cables. Hiking trails within the attraction are subject to weather-related closings throughout the winter months. Hikers can access the trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park for free from trailheads outside the attraction. Access to the trails from the Swinging Bridge requires the purchase of a ticket to the attraction.
Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle talk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. It is in the backcountry of Grandfather Mountain State Park that you come up against the more challenging hikes.
Take a walk on Grandfather Mountain and you’re likely to spot squirrels, songbirds and other forest animals. But what about the more elusive wildlife? It only takes a visit to one of the seven environmental habitats to see cougars, red tailed deer, black bears, bald eagles and river otters. Observing these animals up close in their native settings it’s easy to imagine what it would be like to meet them in the wild. Environmental habitats are large enclosures that allow visitors to see animals in natural settings. Unlike the exhibits found in zoos that bring in plants and boulders to create an appropriate setting, these enclosures were built around the animals’ natural habitats. Viewing areas give visitors an up-close perspective of the animals as they live in the wild. Separated from the animals by moats or elevated above the habitats on large retaining walls, these viewing areas allow you to stand only a few feet away from animals you probably wouldn’t see in your everyday life. A special aquarium-like viewing area allows you to enjoy watching the playful otters above or below the water.
The Nature Museum
The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum houses more than two dozen excellent exhibits designed to educate guests about the natural history of Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding region. The principal designer of the exhibits was Dr. Rolland Hower, former Chief of Natural History Exhibits for the Smithsonian Museum. As guests enter the gallery, they encounter the finest collection of North Carolina gems and minerals available on display. The cases contain 62 kinds of minerals (350 specimens in all) including crystals, rubies and the largest emerald ever found in North America. Other exhibits showcase the birds of North Carolina, and the exhibits also include wax models of wildflowers, berries and mushrooms found on Grandfather.
The Fudge Shop
The Grandfather Mountain Fudge Shop opened in 2008 to serve freshly made delectable treats inside the mountain’s most eco-friendly building. Enjoy standard flavors like chocolate and cookies and cream or ask for a seasonal favorite like pumpkin pie and peppermint. The Fudge Shop also serves Hershey’s Ice Cream.
Mildred’s Grill at the Nature Museum
Mildred’s Grill is the 140-seat Nature Museum Restaurant that serves hot, tasty food at reasonable prices. You can order in advance so that your order is ready and waiting at the time that best fits your schedule. If you travel in a large group, you may enjoy your meal in the restaurant or as a picnic outside or reserve the private dining room. The Mountain has more than 100 picnic tables in scenic locations throughout the park including covered picnic areas situated next to the nature museum. Open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Adults (13-59): $20
Senior (60+): $18
Child (4-12): $9
Children under 4 admitted free.
Ticket sales end one hour before the park closes. Grandfather Mountain is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It is recommended that you arrive before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. on summer weekends, holidays and fall color weekends. You’ll move through the Gate more quickly, there will be fewer people in the park and the animals will be more active.
9am to 6pm
8am to 7pm
8am to 6pm
9am to 5pm
Paid admission includes your visit to the Nature Museum where you can see exhibits about the mountain and North Carolina, a documentary film theater, restaurant and gift shop. You will also be able to walk through the animal habitats where you can see black bears, cougars, deer, otters and eagles. The Mile High Swinging Bridge and Top Shop Visitors’ Center is at the very top of the mountain. You can also access hiking trails from the parking area at the bridge. Parking is also included with the cost of admission.
Proceeds from your ticket are used to preserve and protect Grandfather Mountain for future generations. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a nonprofit 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 a presenting Grandfather Mountain in a manner that inspires good stewardship in others.