If you look closely at the silhouette photograph of this highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might see why it is called Grandfather Mountain.
There is now a two and a half mile road to the top, but at 5964 feet it must have been quite a hike back in the 1880’s when it was first opened for “tourism.” With the advent of the automobile a single dirt road was hacked out of the hillside and rich folks could drive up. Only in 1960 was the road paved which now takes visitors to one of the peaks at 5600 feet. If you are so inclined you can hike the rest of the way, which takes six hours and can even camp overnight.
Needless to say, the views are spectacular even at the parking lot, and if you are brave enough to cross a swinging narrow suspension bridge, spanning a gorge, you rise another 200 feet and can see about 300 degrees all round.
The whole mountain is a nature conservation area with a very nice small zoo containing animals natural to the area, such as Black Bears, Cougars, Eagles and Deer. The natural history museum is also well presented and shows many strange items found on the mountain.
All in all a very worthwhile expedition for only $12 per adult.