View from the bridge
Blue Ridge Parkway,  Kids,  Mountains,  USA

Grandfather Mountain: climbing rocks and a swinging bridge

Back in 2015 we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was simply beautiful. During our drive we stopped at several attractions just off the parkway. Grandfather Mountain was one of them, and was well worth our time. Yuri loved climbing the rocks and we enjoyed the grand views on the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Yuri and Paul on top of the rock
Yuri and Paul on top of the rock

Where is Grandfather Mountain?

Grandfather Mountain is located close to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. It’s in the vicinity of the town of Linville. The detour is about 3.3 mile or 5.3 kilometers, which is approximately an 18 minute drive from the parkway.

Some facts about Grandfather Mountain

The elevation of Grandfather is 5946 feet, which is 1812 meters. It’s the highest peak on the East side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachen Mountain range. The mountain is approximately 200 million years old. Grandfather Mountain is both a non-profit attraction and a state park.

Grandfather Mountain, with forest on the foreground
Grandfather Mountain

The state park part is 2/3 of the mountain and has free entrance. On this wild and undeveloped section there are 2 hiking trails, which you can take. You can’t go by car in this part. 1/3 of the mountain is the attraction part, this is where the bridge and museum are and where you can drive to in your own car. From here on we’re talking about the attraction side of the mountain.


Holding up the stone
Holding up the stone

Grandfather Mountain provides nature walks and trails. There are 11 trails, which for the most part are backcountry hiking trails. The backcountry trails use ladders and cables to climb, if there are sheer cliff faces. We didn’t undertake any of the trails, but walked from the parking lot to the bridge. Lots of rocks to climb on and sit under. Yuri, our than 5 year old, loved this. Paul and Yuri climbed on most of the rocks there and had lots of fun. After the bridge there were more rocks to climb on. The climbing on rocks was our son’s favorite.

A rock to climb on, broken in the middle. Grandfather Mountain
A rock to climb on
Climbing in the rock cravice

Nature museum

There’s a nature museum on the mountain. It’s all about the natural history of Grandfather Mountain. It was fun to browse around the museum. The backcountry is different from the other areas in the South of the USA. The forests found in the backcountry are synonym to Canadian climates. This makes for an unique experience in the South. Grandfather Mountain had 16 distinct ecosystems and is part of the United Nation’s international network of Biosphere Reserves.

Environmental habitats

Next to a museum there are animals in large enclosures, because of this people can see the animals in their natural settings. Some of these animals used to live on the mountain, but are gone from the wild. On the mountain there are about 73 rare or endangered species. So far if you’re lucky you can still see these in the wild.

On Grandfather Mountain there are many animals, among them 200 different bird species. Heaven for birders. On the terrace of the museum café hang feeders, where birds come to eat and drink, among them hummingbirds. I so love to watch hummingbirds. 


Mile High Swinging Bridge

Mile High Swinging Bridge from afar at Grandfather Mountain
Mile High Swinging Bridge

This bridge was a highlight in our Grandfather Mountain experience. The 360° degree panoramic views from the bridge are mesmerizing. Yuri wanted to run on the bridge, but we stopped him, so that it wouldn’t disturb other people. The bridge was built in 1952 and is on and elevation of 5278 feet. Its 228 foot long and spans a 80-foots gap. The bridge is called the mile high bridge, since the elevation of the bridge is 1 mile.

Paul and Yuri one the Mile High Swinging Bridge, wit more people behind them.
Paul and Yuri one the Mile High Swinging Bridge
View from the bridge
View from the bridge
Beautiful view from the bridge. Grandfather Mountain
Beautiful view from the bridge

What else is there?

Besides these fun things there’re interpretive walks being organized, there’s an Junior Ranger Program, events and animal encounters.


2050 Blowing Rock Highway

Linville, NC 28646

(800) 468-7325

Opening hours are daily from 9am till 5pm.


We loved Grandfather Mountain and enjoyed our visit. It’s a good option for a side trip when driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent about 2 hours at Grandfather Mountain, so perfect to include as a stop on road trips.

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  • beatravelling

    Initially we were going to do part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our road trip from DC to New Orleans, but we ended up doing the coast instead, the Outer Banks, which we loved!! Hopefully I get to do the parkway another time. It looks great, and I like the bridge!

    • Cosette

      We did the Blue Ridge Parkway on our route from NYC to San Francisco, and we decided not to take the coast. Love to do the coast next time we’re road tripping through the States. You’ll love the Blue Ridge Parkway next time your there.

  • Rob + Ann @TravelLatte

    What views!! This is perfect, as we’re starting to plan out a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had heard about Grandfather Mountain, but not about the bridge. This was instantly added to the “must do” list! Thanks for putting it on our radar!

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea

    I was recently watching a travel show that featured the Blue Ridge parkway and have been interested in the area. I’m glad to learn more about Grandfather Mountain, especially related to wildlife. I’m not sure I could do the swinging bridge though! Yikes!

  • Hannah

    Grandfather Mountain looks like such a fun place to explore! I’d love to scramble up those rocks and get some great photo (I love the one holding up the rock!) I’d love to see the hummingbirds too, they look beautiful! Thanks for the great guide!

  • Shelley

    this is a really beautiful mountain, and i agrree that it’s a must visit if you’re going to asheville or western north carolina. i have been & it’s amazing, from the elevator up to the views at the top. also, the photo of your kiddo holding up the rock is so cute!

  • Brittany

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about hiking Grandfather Mountain! My husband and I are hoping to return to North Carolina this year, so we’ll have to put this on our list of things to do while we’re there 🙂

  • Venaugh

    This mountain is beautiful! I love that there are so many options to hike, I just wouldnt know which to choose. Lovely that they have so many varieties of birds as well and feeders so you can see them up close.

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