2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Where is Grandfather Mountain State Park
Located in North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Grandfather Mountain US State Park hosts backcountry camping and adventurous hikes through steep mountainous terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located one-mile south is an infamous scenic drive managed by the national park service, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The state park is located about a 1.5-hour drive north east from the city of Asheville, and about 2-hours north west of the city of Charlotte. The closest town is Linville located about a 10-minute drive west of the state park entrance. Blowing Rock, about 20 minutes east of the state park is another town located nearby with more services than Linville. The Mile-High Swinging Bridge is a private attraction located within the state park that is the highest swinging bridge in America.
How Big is Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park has over 2,456 acres to explore and 12 miles of backcountry trails. The highest point is Calloway Peak at 5,964 feet with a trail leading to the top of the peak. The base elevation of the state park is 4,189 feet.
The distinct Calloway Ridgeling runs through the state park, recognizable from miles away as visitors drive along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway. Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile national parkway that runs from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park known for its beautiful scenery and an iconic American drive.
Grandfather Mountain State Park Weather
Located at high elevation over 4,000 feet in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the seasons vary greatly in temperature and precipitation affecting what activities you can to do the state park. The ridgeline and mountains can be windy with varied trail conditions and unpredictable weather.
Winter from November through March brings an average of 53 inches of snowfall. The average high temperature in the winter is 38 degrees, and an average low of 20 degrees. Ice and snow can close many of the trails throughout the state park due to dangerous conditions on steep mountainous terrain. Checking the weather and trail conditions online is highly recommended from October through April before planning a hike in Grandfather Mountain.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the state park as temperatures warm up to an average high around 69 degrees, and an average low of 55 degrees. July is the warmest month with an average high of 69 degrees. Average rainfall is 62 inches per year, the most rain coming in September.
Wildlife can be viewed year-round including river otters, deer, mountain lions, birds and eagles, and black bears.
When did Grandfather Mountain Become a State Park
Throughout history the mountains and ridgeline of this state park have been appreciated by native Americans, explorers, geologists, and mountaineers admiring the treacherous landscape of cliffsides, steep mountains, waterfalls and streams.
Early settlers in the area saw a face of an old man’s profile in the outline of the peaks and named the mountain ‘Grandfather mountain”.
The land was privately owned by the Morton’s family throughout the 1900’s and operated as a nature preserve. Hugh Morton built the well-known tourist attraction, Mile-High Swinging Bridge, the highest bridge in America in 1952. The Morton family passed down the land through generations operating it as a tourist attraction.
In 2008, North Carolina’s State Park system purchased the 2,456 acres of land to become North Carolina’s youngest state park, Grandfather Mountain State Park.
Things to do in Grandfather Mountain State Park
Famous for steep hikes, cliffsides, ladders and chutes, and spectacular mountain peaks to climb, this state park is the extreme hiker’s paradise. Plan hikes thoroughly before going, as the trails are steep and must be navigated carefully with the proper gear. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines below some activities you may be interested in doing:
Hike to the Top of Calloway Peak
This hike is strenuous ascending 1,775 feet in 3.6 miles. Near the top of the peak requires scrambling on steep and rocky sections of trail. The top offers rewarding views from the highest point of the state park.
Climb Attic Window Peak
A difficult peak to climb with steep rocky faces, ladders, chutes, and cliffsides.
Hike the Grandfather Trail
A difficult trail with 18 ladders to climb over cliffs and crags of the grandfather mountain. The trail is a total of 4.8 miles and very steep with 1,872 feet of elevation gain and loss over 2.4 miles. The trail is recommended for experienced hikers only.
Hike the Profile Trail
The profile trail is a 3-mile hike taking you to a viewpoint facing the Grandfather mountains cliffside rocky ‘faces’, which the park is named after.
Walk Across the Mile-High Swinging Bridge
The highest suspension footbridge in America leads you across an 80-foot valley for 228 feet. It is a private attraction located within the state park and costs extra, but is worth the cost to see amazing views of Grandfather Mountain.
Visit the Nature Museum
There are over 24 exhibits about the natural history, geology, and wildlife and flowers of the Grandfather Mountain area.
Visit the Wildlife Habitats
Have the chance to view black bears, river otters, eagles, deer, and cougars from viewpoints into their wildlife habitats.
When to go to Grandfather Mountain State Park
The park can be visited year-round, but the weather must be taken into great consideration when planning a trip or a hike here. The park gates frequently close due to bad weather or muddy or icy trail conditions. The park is most visited during the summer months from June through September when the weather is warmer, and trails are likely to be dry to hike on.
From November to February, the park is open from 8am to 6pm, from March to May, 8am to 8pm, from June to August 8am to 9pm, and from September to October, 8am to 8pm. Hiking permits are required and free to go on a hike in the state park. The state park is free to enter, but the Mile-High Swinging Bridge has an admission fee.
Must-Have things to Bring to Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park has limited services in the park itself. Stop at the nearby town of Linville to stock up on food, water, and hiking gear to fully enjoy the state park in a safe manor. Below is a list of things List of Parks advises you should bring to the park.
If you plan to go on any hikes in the state park, you must fill out a hiking permit and put it in a box located at the trailhead you plan on hiking. Permits can be found at the Profile Trailhead parking area, Tanawha Trail, and the Daniel Boone Scout trails.
Bring plenty of water as this state park is located at high elevation, over 4,000 feet. At the high elevation, your body can become dehydrated quicker than at sea level. Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Food and Snacks
There are no food or snacks available in the state park. Stop at the nearby town of Linville just 10-minutes west of the park entrance to get some food and snacks to bring into the park.
The state park is large with lots of cliffs sides and 12 miles of trails to explore. Bring a park map to ensure you don’t get lost or end up in a dangerous spot in the backcountry of the state park.
Proper Hiking Boots
Trail conditions vary greatly as the weather here is very unpredictable and the trails can become icy or muddy before you know it. The trails are also steep, rocky, and require solid hiking boots.
Most of the hiking trails are on steep, rocky, trails that require careful footsteps as to not fall and get injured. Bring hiking poles to assist with balance on these difficult trails.
The weather here is unpredictable and temperatures can drop quickly. Bring rain gear to avoid getting hypothermia from getting wet in rain or snowstorms.
The temperature rarely gets above 70 degrees, so bring lots of warm layers to stay warm while visiting the park.
There is plenty of wildlife to view and having binoculars will give you the chance to see them up close.
There are black bears in the area. Ensure you have protection from the bear and keep your belongings on you at all times.
Where to stay in Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park has a campground with 13 campsites. Reservations are required and recommended as the spots fill up during the summer months. The campground is open year-round.
The nearby town of Linville has 3 options for hotels, Eseeola Lodge, Gable Hause Cottages, Pixie Inn, and Parkview Lodge & Cabins. A 20-minute drive east in the town of Blowing Rock there are many options for hotels and B&Bs and more services available.
Food Nearby Grandfather Mountain State Park
There is no food in the state park itself, but just outside of the park near the Mile-High Swinging Bridge attraction is Mildred’s Grill offering breakfast and lunch. Linville town has 3 restaurants: Little Deer Cafè, Old Hampton Store % Barbeque, and Tartan Restaurant.
Linville also have a grocery store, Pixie Produce, to purchase snacks and food to bring into the park.
Airports Near Grandfather Mountain State Park
The closest major airport to Grandfather Mountain is the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Rent a car at the airport and drive the scenic 2-hour drive climbing up into the Blue Ridge Mountains, to Grandfather Mountain State Park.