GRANDFATHER’S MOUNTAIN – The temperature is dropping and friends are calling, looking for something to do.
Fortunately, Grandfather Mountain offers plenty of winter activities and adventures to keep friends and family busy.
Winter is known as Grandfather’s “quietest” time of year, not only because of the calm and serenity of the natural surroundings, but also because it offers visitors the opportunity to have the park to themselves before the crowds return in the spring and summer. .
While visitors can most certainly enjoy scenic, snow-capped mountain views from November through March — even catching a glimpse of the Charlotte skyline on a clear day, about 80 miles away — there are periods of warmer weather that appear intermittently between windy and snowy days that allow guests to hike sunny trails or brave the heights of the Mile High swing bridge.
Nonetheless, the cooler weather also presents its own opportunities and plays a role in enhancing the wildlife around Grandfather Mountain, including some truly wild – and wild at heart – species. Resident animals in the park’s environmental wildlife habitats are invigorated by the wintry weather, and many, especially the resident river otters and western cougars, can be seen frolicking in the snow – with the exception of black bears residents, who nest in cold weather.
During this time, deer, squirrels, and other creatures can often be seen roaming and feeding in the park, including birds that cannot be seen elsewhere in the Southeast during the winter months.
Red crossbills, pine siskins and other northern bird species winter in upland Fraser fir and red spruce forests, such as those found on Mount Grandfather. These species attract bird watchers to the mountain from across the region to sight-see before returning to their northern ranges in Canada and elsewhere. For more information on winter birding, visit www.grandfather.com/winter-birding/.
Luckily, you don’t have to brave the cold to view wildlife, as birds, squirrels and other animals can be seen by the feeders from the comfort of the interior of Mildred’s Grill, where patrons can warm up with a hot lunch or cold drink. bird-friendly coffee roast. Gift shops are also conveniently located next to Mildred’s Grill, as well as near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
Grandfather Mountain is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter months, with ticket sales ending at 3:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. closures and advice for winter visits, visit www.grandfather.com/winter-visits/.