On the road with kids: Grandfather Mountain

Bear reflection on Grandfather MountainWe visited the magical world of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina while on the road with our kids. We bought entrance tickets at the gate but this was no theme park. This is a real mountain that dates back over a billion years. The legendary American frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734-1820) once hunted among its rocks.

Blue Ridge Parkway viewWe made our way to its peaks while travelling in the slow lane on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. It was a rainy and foggy day so our picnic basket stayed in the car as we followed the winding road up Grandfather Mountain. This Appalachian mountain in North Carolina has an elevation of 5946 feet (1,812 m).

Bear on Grandfather MountainOur first stop was to visit the environmental habitats for native wildlife. Bears, cougars, river otters and deer live in their natural surroundings. Humans can view them from special fenced off platforms.

Bear face close upAs the mist was so thick there were no deer or cougars in view – probably sheltering under trees in the woods – but we did see the black bears.

bears in the mist Grandfather MountainOut of the fog they slowly appeared. Bears in the mist. They dipped their feet in water.

Bald EagleA lone bald eagle sat and pondered in an enclosure. The eagle is only kept in captivity as its too old and injured to be set free.

2-humming-birdsHumming birds fluttered their wings and sipped water outside the window of the Nature Museum where we ate lunch. Our picnic abandoned in the car despite the abundance of picnic tables up and around the mountain.

inside fudge shop grandfather mountainAfterwards we had to visit the fudge shop. We watched them make some fudge. It’s earth-friendly with solar panels, bamboo floors, rain barrels and more. I’m afraid our main interest was the fudge itself.

fudgeWe ate too much fudge.

Then we headed for the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the peak of Grandfather Mountain.

mist mile high swinging bridgeThe suspension bridge spans across an 80 foot chasm at the mile high elevation. Normally you get a 360 degree panoramic view. All I could see was the swirling clouds of mist and tree tops below me so it felt like we were walking across a mile high chasm.

Mile High Swinging Bridge Grandfather MountainI shouted at my kids to watch their steps. Unlike an earlier explorer I was way too nervous to sing. French botanist Andre Michaux (1734-1820) sang the Marseillaise after climbing the mountain and then shouted “Long live America and the Republic of France, long live liberty!”

Until recently privately owned, Grandfather Mountain is now run as a non-profit attraction and a North Carolina state park. Every year around a 120 Scottish clans and societies gather in its meadows for Highland Games. I loved a quote in one of the Highland Games newsletters: “A wee bit of the Scottish highlands in North Carolina!”

wild flowers grandfather mountainBecause of the magnificent rise of the mountain from valley to peak, it hosts over sixteen distinct ecological communities. It’s an international biosphere reserve. Unfortunately due to the weather we were unable to hike or get the Full Monty in terms of scenery, but just to see the bears on Grandfather Mountain was magical enough for my kids.

8 thoughts on “On the road with kids: Grandfather Mountain”

  1. I am very jealous of your visit, it looks fantastic! Your pictures of the bears are fab, particularly the close-up one. How wonderful it must have been to see these beautiful creatures in such stunning surroundings. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  2. Amazing! The pictures are absolutely amazing!

    The brown bears are so beautiful and doesn’t that eagle look majestic. Beautiful. I would love to visit. I am pining this post. I would just love to take the kids here.

    If you have time, can you link this post up to the Mommy Monday Blog Hop. i will leave the address in the website field. I think the other mothers would enjoy it!

  3. This looks like it was such a lovely trip. The pictures are wonderful and we probably would have eaten a lot of fudge too. We love chocolate! My husband has probably gotten that close to a black bear before. I can remember him telling me one was loose in one particular are in NJ when we lived there. The close up of the bear and the eagle are surreal! Thanks for linking up with Mommy Monday! I’ll be sure to follow you all over 🙂

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