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The largest gathering of Scottish clans in the world takes place on Grandfather Mountain every year over the second weekend in July, with a parade of tartans, pipe bands, dancing, and athletic competitions such as the caber toss. The event provides wonderful opportunities to learn about Scottish ancestry and perhaps connect with long-lost kin. The rest of the year visitors are focused on the mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge at the summit and the Linn Cove Viaduct (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 304.4), an engineering marvel completed in 1987 as the final link in the alpine highway. Visitors also love the Wildlife Habitat, where black bears, ...

The largest gathering of Scottish clans in the world takes place on Grandfather Mountain every year over the second weekend in July, with a parade of tartans, pipe bands, dancing, and athletic competitions such as the caber toss. The event provides wonderful opportunities to learn about Scottish ancestry and perhaps connect with long-lost kin. The rest of the year visitors are focused on the mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge at the summit and the Linn Cove Viaduct (Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 304.4), an engineering marvel completed in 1987 as the final link in the alpine highway. Visitors also love the Wildlife Habitat, where black bears, mountain cougars, bald eagles, white-tailed deer, otters, and other indigenous animals live. The visitor center features exhibits on the geology of the mountain and its flora and fauna. Films by the late Hugh Morton are shown in the theater and his photographs, along with the work of other award-winning photographers, are also on display. The center also houses a restaurant and a gift shop, plus there's a new gift shop under construction at the summit. The mountain offers a number of marked trails, including the Profile Trail, for every hiking level, but serious hikers and backcountry campers are challenged by the mountain's rough terrain. The mountain, which resembles the profile of an old man and is one of the oldest in the world, has been privately owned by the Morton family since the late 1800s, and they continue to operate the attraction. In 2008, the state of North Carolina purchased 2,601 acres for its 34th park, featuring 16 distinct natural communities and 73 rare species that include the spruce fir moss spider, Blue Ridge goldenrod, bog turtle, and Carolina northern flying squirrel. A designated International Biosphere Reserve, Grandfather Mountain is accessible via US 221 and the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 305.

Carol Timblin
About the Expert

Carol Timblin has contributed to numerous guidebooks and authored four editions of Houghton Mifflin's Best Places to Stay in the South.

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Carol Timblin for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Grandfather Mountain State Park is a mountain and state park near Linville, North Carolina, in the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer, and fall. Icy and snowy conditions may make travel in the park hazardous in winter.