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Grandfather Mountain opens the new Wilson Center for Nature Discovery

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The center is designed to weave fun with education, offering experiential learning opportunities for guests both young and old. | Photo by Monty Combs

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Hey, Ashevillians — if you love the outdoors (or have budding nature-lovers in the household), we’ve got you covered for your next summer trip.

Grandfather Mountain (an ~1.5-hour drive from AVL) is widely known for its lofty heights and its breathtaking vantage points of the natural world.Now guests are able to experience and interact with nature in a whole new way with the newly-opened Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, located about halfway up the mountain and adjacent to the Wildlife Habitats.

The center is part of an all-new Conservation Campus that nearly doubles the size of the park’s original Nature Museum, and gives visitors experiential learning opportunities with 3D interactive maps, flora + fauna walls, and engaging museum exhibits covering Grandfather Mountain’s unique history, geology, and weather.

Outside the center, guests can enjoy new outdoor learning spaces, including:

  • An amphitheater with terraced seating
  • A pavilion
  • A new botanical garden
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The new state-of-the art center features new additions + exhibits. | Photo by Monty Combs

New additions

The Wilson Center features 10,000 sqft of education space, including:

  • State-of-the-art museum exhibits
  • Three classrooms
  • Restoration of the ADA-accessible auditorium
  • Enhanced food service facilities to allow for catering + serving educational groups
  • Expanded capacity for hosting conferences, seminars, receptions and community events

Exhibits to explore

Details on the new exhibits include:

  • A 3-D interactive map of the mountain, showcasing Grandfather’s ecological + geological history
  • Flora and fauna walls, which spotlight the mountain’s unique biodiversity
  • A weather + climate section designed to dynamically explain the science behind Grandfather’s extreme weather

Adjacent to the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, you can visit Grandfather Mountain’s resident animals (think: cougars, black bears + bald eagles) at the Wildlife Habitats, or stop by Split Rock and Sphinx Rock.

Want to make a day of it? Take a break for lunch at Mildred’s Grill, drive to the summit to see the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, or find souvenirs, outdoor gear + art in the gift shop. Start planning your visit and view hours, online reservations + ticketing information.*