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Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight on Grandfather Mountain Happening Oct. 2

Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight attendees will have the rare opportunity of seeing Grandfather Mountain after dark. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

People are familiar with Grandfather Mountain’s resident animals, including black bears, bald eagles, cougars, river otters and elk.

But what do they do after dark?

Guests can find out Saturday, Oct. 2, at Grandfather Mountain’s annual Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, a nighttime event that features fun and spooky stories told by firelight, along with exclusive after-dark tours.

From 7 to 9 p.m., guests young and old can enjoy hot chocolate and warm apple cider by the glow of a bonfire. The event is BYOS (Bring Your Own S’mores, e.g., marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, roasting sticks, etc.), but the park will provide cider, hot chocolate and seating. As a safety precaution, any snack items provided by Grandfather Mountain will be individually wrapped.

From there, guests will join Grandfather staff members on a nocturnal trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) and the environmental wildlife habitats. While riding the shuttle, all participants are required to wear a face covering.

“It’s a whole different way to experience the animals,” said Christie Tipton, chief habitats curator of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “My favorite part is all the participants’ reactions to experiencing the animal habitats in the dark. When you can’t really see the animals too well, you’re having to observe them with your other senses, and it’s really exciting.”

For instance, participants might hear the breaths of a black bear or catch the glint of a mountain lion’s eyes. 

An “Owl Prowl” will take participants on a search for the mountain’s feathered denizens of the night, during which guides will attempt to communicate with the birds through owl calls.

“On our last Owl Prowl, the barred owls were very, very responsive, talking back a lot,” Tipton said. “By the time we take the last tour, it’s pitch black, and you can’t see anything. Although the owls can see you.”

In fact, the event casts Grandfather Mountain in a whole new light — or lack thereof.

“Creatures of the Night is an amazing opportunity to see the new world that is Grandfather Mountain after the sun goes down,” Tipton said. “The mountain comes alive with inhabitants not seen during daylight hours, and experiencing the majesty of this in complete darkness, with no outside lights, is an awe-inspiring experience.”

Planning to Attend?

Grandfather Mountain’s Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight returns Saturday, Oct. 2, from 7 to 9 p.m.

The cost is $40 per person and $20 for members of Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club annual membership program. Participants must be at least 8 years old to attend. Space is limited, meaning registration is required by visiting https://bit.ly/gfm-creatures-2021.

For the event itself, guests are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets, flashlights and s’mores ingredients to enjoy around the fire. Due to COVID-19, participants are asked to maintain a safe social distance during the event and are required to wear face coverings when riding the shuttles. Face coverings will be provided if attendees forget to bring one.

For more information, call 828-733-2013, or email [email protected].

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.

Grandfather Mountain’s Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight event will feature an ‘Owl Prowl,’ during which participants can search for the mountain’s feathered denizens of the night, such as the barred owl. Photo by Monty Combs | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation