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‘Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble’ At Grandfather Mountain Slated For First Half of June

By Jesse Wood

May 22, 2013. The alluring rose-lavender blooms decorating Grandfather’s slopes indicate the beginning of another wonderful summer on the mountain.  The color returns to the Mountain this coming June and it does so in a most breathtaking way.

The Catawba Rhododendron covers more than 1,000 feet in elevation on Grandfather Mountain. This wide range of elevation provides a long window of opportunity for guests to see this showy blooming plant. Photo by Helen Moss Davis

The “Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble” hosted by the attraction’s naturalists celebrates this memorable sight June 1-16 at 1 p.m.daily. Grandfather’s knowledgeable guides are looking forward to sharing the beauty of this year’s blooms with park visitors.

“Come join us to learn more about our rare treasure, the Catawba Rhododendron and other native shrubbery,” said Katie Gray, chief naturalist at Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “It’s a very exciting time of year.”

The naturalists have planned guided walks to honor the native Catawba Rhododendron and educate guests on how the plant fits into the important ecological communities at Grandfather Mountain.

Found throughout southern Appalachia, Catawba Rhododendron also hold special significance in the botanical world.  It is among only four original species of rhododendron that have been used to cultivate thousands of hybrids.        

The Catawba Rhododendron covers more than 1,000 feet in elevation from MacRae Meadows to MacRae Peak where it reaches 5,845 feet. The wide range of elevation provides guests with a longer window of opportunity to see the rhododendron blooming on Grandfather. It typically first appears at overlooks near the entrance of the attraction in late May and arrives at the higher peaks near The Mile High Swinging Bridge by the end of June.   

“Our rare Pink-Shell Azalea has been exceptional this year,” Gray said. “We are anticipating the same from the Rhododendron.”

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests, and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.  For more information, visit www.grandfather.com or call 800-468-7325.

All Rhododendron Ramble activities are included in the regular attraction admission. For more information phone 800-468-7325or plan a trip at www.grandfather.com.

A Grandfather Mountain staff naturalist discusses the parts of a rhododendron with a Rhodo Ramble participant. The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble will occur at 1 p.m. daily June 1-16. Photo by Taylor Adams