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Grandfather Mountain Releases Schedule of Events, Fun for Everyone in Every Season

By Kaitlan Morehouse

Are you interested in exploring the local wildlife and the great outdoors? Visit Grandfather Mountain for your chance to see the beauty and marvel of the High Country during 2016.

Grandfather Mountain aims to inspire conservation by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of the natural world.

The nonprofit GM Stewardship Foundation just released its schedule of events for 2016 that begin this spring.

“No matter what time of year, there’s always something happening on the mountain,” said GMSF Marketing and Communications Director Frank Ruggiero. “Our growing schedule of events sweetens the pot, offering guests entertainment, education and a special connection with the great outdoors.”

Ruggiero said that temperatures are always cooler on top of the mountain, so it’s a great way to escape the heat in the summer and see the leaves changing in the fall.

Spring is a great time of the year to start birding, and there are 200 different species to look out for, specifically on Profile or Black Rock trails.

It’s never too early to start your vacation, and Grandfather Mountain is open year round!

What are you waiting for?

Enjoy the green this spring and keep coming back all year!

All your favorite GM programs are back this year, plus more!

The Salamander Program will give you a chance to explore the hidden biodiversity on the mountain.

Behind-the-scenes tours will start in April and teach you the ins and outs of being a keeper at the mountain.

Animal encounters will happen from April to October at least every hour from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day

The behind-the-scenes tours will cost a little extra, but the other two are included with the price of admission.

Get involved with the encounters and make the enrichment (each animals favorite part of the day), which includes scents, treats, toys or something else special, at the Animal Birthday Party on June 15! At the end of the day, the keepers will give them to the animals and answer any questions you may have.

“Aspen the Mountain Lion’s favorite enrichment is toilet paper,” Ruggiero said.

Here is a detailed list of the events:

  • May 7 — Salamander Saturday:
    • Join Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists as they guide you through hikes to observe rare species of the most prolific terrestrial vertebrates on the mountain.
  • May 13-15 — Naturalist Weekend:
    • Join the Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists again, but this time for guided hikes and programs to discover the mountain’s unique biodiversity.

  • June 1-12 — The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble:
    • Participate in more of Grandfather Mountain’s guided hikes to showcase the beauty, significance, cultural history and function of the Rhododendron.
  • June 3-5 — Nature Photography Weekend:
    • Capture Grandfather Mountain’s scenery and native animals and enter in an informal photography contest on Friday and Saturday during daylight and engage in presentations from some of the nation’s top nature photographers at night. Contest winners will be announced on Sunday. Register before Monday, April 4 and pay the additional cost to be eligible to win!
  • June 15 — Animal Birthday Party:
    • Help Grandfather Mountain celebrate the birthdays of all its furry and feathered friends with a day full of games, contests, crafts and surprises for your whole family!

  • June 26 — 92nd Annual Singing on the Mountain:
    • Join this free, all-day, gospel singing event once again at MacRae Meadows, located the base of the mountain. Performers are TBA, and camping is available without hook-ups.
  • July 7-10 — 61st Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games:
    • Revel in Scottish traditions, music, dancing, athletics and food at the grandest gathering of Scottish clans at MacRae Meadows. Admission is charged for this event. Want to know more? Call the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games office at 828-733-1333 or visit gmhg.org.
  • Aug. 3 — Animal Enrichment Day:
    • Watch enrichment—anything that can help enhance the animals’ day—demonstrations, converse with keepers and participate in family orientated games and crafts to understand why enrichment is an integral part of how the mountain cares for its habitat animals every day.
  • Aug. 13-14 — Amateur and Professional Camera Clinic:
    • Engage with top photographers as they present on the nuts and bolts of making good photographs. If you’re a member of the press, you get in free. If you are a non-professional, you’ll have to pay an additional cost. Registration begins July 13.
  • Sept. 10 — 13th Annual Grandfather Mountain Kidfest:
    • Explore nature, history and music of Southern Appalachian with a full day of games, music and fun for all families.
  • Sept. 17 — 46th Annual Grandfather Mountain Girl Scout Day:
    • Are you a girl scout, troop leader or related to one? Show proof of membership and enjoy a free full day of fun-filled learning adventures, including special scout activities, presentations and a closing ceremony. The theme for 2016’s event is plant life, and family members receive a discounted admission upon entry.
  • Sept. 17-25 — International Hawk Migration Viewing:
    • Meet at Linville Peak every day —weather permitting— and join the mountain’s naturalists counting and celebrating the annual spectacle of the full raptor migration.
  • Sept. 25 — John Muir Day:
    • Join guided hikes and talks, engaging with naturalists as they discuss the preminent naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir’s historic visit to the mountain over a century ago. He once described Grandfather Mountain as “the face of heaven come down to Earth.” Are you a Sierra Club member? You get in free!
  • Oct. 1 — Creatures of the Night and Bonfire Delight:
    • Enjoy rare after-dark tours, fireside tales and a chance to meet the park’s nocturnal friends. Register online starting Sept. 1 to enjoy this event with an admission fee.
  • Oct. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 — The Colors of Grandfather:
    • Join guided walks by naturlists to show case the changing leaves and explain the science behind the natural phenomenon, occurring almost every week.
  • Oct. 29 — Beary Scary Halloween:
    • Engage in a full day of nature programs about animals considered “creepy and crawly” with opportunities to create animal enrichments and trick-or-treat through the wildlife habitats. Kids admitted half price if in a costume.

Most events are included in the park admission, including the naturalist talks, unless otherwise noted.

Aren’t sure which programs to join yet?

“The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble is pretty cool since the plants are all around us,” Ruggiero said. “’Course, the Highland Games, Photography Weekend and Animal Birthday Party are huge.”

For a more detailed list — including summer evening lecture series, daily programs, sunrise-sunset opportunities and night walks — visit www.grandfather.com or call 828-733-2013. Stay tuned for news on more events!

Aside from the events, Grandfather Mountain offers 11 hiking trails — 12 miles altogether — varying from “gentle” to “strenuous,” contingent on the weather, of course. For even more hiking trails visit, the adjacent Grandfather Mountain State Park.

To learn more about Grandfather Mountain, visit www.grandfather.com. For more on Grandfather Mountain State Park, visit their site