Just about every time we stay up at Beech Mountain, my family and I love to make the short drive towards Linville and visit Grandfather Mountain . . . in the Summer. But during our winter visits we assumed the park was closed, which (it turns out) was a mistake. Weather permitting, the park is open to visitors all year 'round.
Even though the bears at the park aren't very active during the colder months of the year (Actually, the bears at Grandfather Mountain nap more than they hibernate. You can sometimes see them come out for a drink of water and a look 'round in the wintertime.), the rest of the wildlife (River Otters, Cougars, Eagles and Deer) are still out and available for visits. Watching the Otters play in the ice and snow is a special treat.
Seeing as it's North Carolina and all, you still get lots of sunny clear days even in the dead of winter. So it's not unheard of for the Swinging Bridge at the top of Grandfather Mountain to be open during ski season in the highlands. And the nearly 12 miles of alpine hiking trails in the park are also kept open, unless things get too icy - then you'll be advised to skip the hike. Even in summer, it is advisable to dress warmly when you visit the mountain top because of the high winds; so you really need to bundle yourselves up very well if you plan to brave the elements and venture up to the very top of Grandfather when there's snow on the ground. Of course, it's not smart to argue with Mother Nature, so at times the park has to close off the mountain top to visitors - but the bright side is that you can still enjoy the other parts of the park (wildlife viewing, Museum) and for half off the regular cost of admission. Just give them a call at the Entrance gate before you come, to find out.
Nature Museum, Theatre & Cafe
In the Nature Museum, you can warm up and watch an interesting nature movie in the Theatre. And homemade vegetable soup and hot sandwiches from the grille at the Cafe are a great way to refuel and warm yourselves. There are some impressive displays in the museum, and beautiful photographs of the local plants and animals line the walls near the gift shop.
So just because the bears are busy with their winter snooze does not mean we have to wait till Spring to enjoy all the rest of what Grandfather Mountain has to offer.