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The best outdoor events in Greenville, SC! From film screenings under the sky to waterfront live music, consider this page your go-to guide to how to do the great outdoors.

Sunday, June 16, 2024
Mile High Swinging Bridge
Jun 16 all-day
Grandfather Mountain

One of the top highlights and memories of visits to Grandfather Mountain nature park is walking across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since 1952, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the bridge’s 360-degree panoramic views. America’s highest suspension footbridge gives easy access to the spectacular views atop Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, elevation 5,305 feet.

The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation (hence the name!). To reach the Mile High Swinging Bridge, drive the two-mile, winding scenic road up the mountain to the summit parking area by the Top Shop. Climb 50 stairs adjacent to the parking area or inside the Top Shop to reach the short pathway to the bridge. Also, an elevator in the Top Shop takes you to the third floor for a level walk to the bridge.

Top Shop

Located adjacent to the Bridge, the Top Shop features a gift shop, snacks, restrooms, elevator and second-floor exhibition area. Also get the latest park information and trail maps. Read more.

Accessibility

Inside the Top Shop, an elevator makes the Mile High Swinging Bridge accessible to people with mobility challenges, including those in wheelchairs. From the Top Shop, there is a paved 50-yard path to the bridge. Read more about our accessibility.

Tickets & Hours

Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge is included in your Grandfather Mountain admission ticket that includes many other things to do in our nature park. Buy tickets online and book a reservation time to enter the park. You do not need a separate reservation for the bridge. It’s open, weather permitting, every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. See hours.

More to Explore

Before or after visiting the Mile High Swinging Bridge, allow time to enjoy other parts of the mountain: wildlife habitats, Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, restaurant, hiking trails, roadside overlooks, picnic areas and more. See more Things to Do.

Nearby Hiking Trails

Trailheads to many of the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails are located near the Swinging Bridge. In fact, the 0.4 mile Bridge Trail takes you beneath the bridge, starting from the Black Rock parking area just below the summit. For details on our nearby trails, go to our Hiking Guide.

Bridge Tips & Tidbits

  • Does it really swing? Very little — unlike the original one. Today’s bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety.
  • We suggest you wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
  • If heights give you pause, you can still enjoy Blue Ridge Mountain views from the ground before you reach the bridge and even from the parking area.
  • Due to periodic extreme weather conditions at the bridge, it closes when there is area lightning, high wind or icy conditions.
  • The official U.S. Weather Service Reporting Station atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge has provided daily weather observations since 1955. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the flatlands you see below. It’s also one of the windiest locations in North Carolina, with a 124-mph record set in winter 2019. Learn more about our weather.
  • Pets are allowed on the bridge if well behaved and on a leash.
  • Photographs and videos to remember your visit are encouraged. Be mindful of sharp drop-offs along the Linville Peak ridge. Drones are not allowed. See our photography policies.
  • The Singing Bridge? When the wind blows, the Mile High Swinging Bridge “sings” in the same way as a harmonica.
  • In April through October, join Grandfather’s expert naturalists by the Bridge for Interpretive Talks about the our unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. Read more.
  • Need driving directions? The address for Grandfather Mountain’s entrance gate is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646 (click link for Google Maps). There are no shuttles, so you must have your own vehicle to explore our nature park. No RVs longer than 28 feet in length or hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. See detailed directions.
  • To see much more info, see our Plan Your Visit section.

Mile High Swinging Bridge History

Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the Bridge’s dedication in 1952. The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.

The original 1952 bridge was designed by Charles Hartmann Jr. of Greensboro, N.C. It was fabricated in Greensboro and then reassembled on top of the Mountain. Erecting the bridge took three weeks, a process slowed by inclement weather created by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast. Cost was $15,000. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1952 by North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now, Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span. It was redesigned by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C., and rebuilt by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville. The cost of rebuilding was $300,000.

PARI Summer STEM and Space Exploration Camps
Jun 16 – Aug 1 all-day
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

Unleash your curiosity of the unknown when you retreat to a dark sky oasis where the stars are innumerable
and beckon overhead. Let the magnificence of space overwhelm you as you discover the mysteries that still
confound scientists, it just might drive you to become tomorrow’s astronauts, physicists, and engineers.
Come learn how different telescopes work and use them and real data to explore space just like professional
scientists do. PARI is a unique site, rich in space science history, and is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains
of North Carolina, where an abundance of adventures awaits. From Space and Science to tubing, waterfall
swimming and roller skating, there are fun, refreshing activities for everyone.
Your Next Adventure Awaits!
When you look up at night and see a field of twinkling lights or the bright crescent of the Moon, what is it
you think of? Maybe you wonder what makes the stars burn and how they came to be, or what planets might
orbit them and the worlds they hold. Perhaps you see patterns that tell a story or point the way to a place
beyond the horizon. Or, do they instill in you a sense of adventure and desire to explore?
Space is a frontier that sparks imagination and curiosity to discover and understand. It invokes the same
spirit that drove ancient peoples to sail into the unknown and pioneers to set out across continents. To reach
into space requires tenacity and grit, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds who’ve studied,
experimented, and pushed humanity’s abilities forward again and again.
The summer of 2024 will begin PARI’s twenty- third summer camp season. It brings camp programs where
campers explore the ways that researchers delve the depths of our universe to make new discoveries, and the
challenges that humans face when leaving the Earth to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
It is also the third summer of our new partnership with Clemson University. This collaboration expands our
ability to inspire with new topics and resources and will reach even more campers who will become the next
generation of scientists and explorers.
Have you got what it takes to conquer STEM and Space?
PARI Summer Camps
Mission Control: Martian Frontier
-Do you have what it takes to plan a mission to another planet?
Gain confidence, learn space science, and strive to make it to a new world in this combination role-play—academic
camp. The wide variety of topics makes this camp a good fit for a range of interests. You’ll tackle challenges in
space craft and habitat design, astronaut health and well-being, and capturing public interest while swaying others
to support your plan.
This camp is designed for middle and high school aged campers.
Above & Beyond
-Models the research process followed by professionals in space science!
Our signature and most academically intensive camp explores the universe through astronomy, physics, and
astrobiology. Use real research-grade instruments and data to investigate objects like super-nova remnants and
distant star clusters, or map the Milky Way. One small step as a space explorer, one giant step in launching your
career in space.
This camp is designed for high school aged campers.
3D Planets – PARI Edition
Lunar and Martian Geography, 3D Modeling & Printing
What is the surface of other planets like? How do we find out and turn that information into a three dimensional
model? Can we accurately recreate other places in the solar system with a 3D printer in a way that anyone can
see and touch and gain an understanding of places beyond Earth? Campers will investigate these questions and
delve into the processes of making science accessible to all. The PARI edition will feature a field trip to a unique
mountain location to experience the beauty of the Land of Waterfalls.
This camp is available in versions for either middle school or high school aged campers.
Clemson & PARI Summer Camps
3D Planets – Clemson Edition
Lunar and Martian Geography, 3D Modeling & Printing
What is the surface of other planets like? How do we find out and turn that information into a three dimensional
model? Can we accurately recreate other places in the solar system with a 3D printer in a way that anyone can
see and touch and gain an understanding of places beyond Earth? Campers will investigate these questions and
delve into the processes of making science accessible to all.
The Clemson Edition of this camp will feature a guest speaker from Clemson University who will engage campers
with the science and research going on there. Campers will also hike to a unique mountain location in the Land of
Waterfalls.
This camp is designed for middle school aged campers.
Advanced 3D Planets – Clemson Edition
Lunar and Martian Geography, 3D Modeling & Printing
What is the surface of other planets like? How do we find out and turn that information into a three dimensional
model? Can we accurately recreate other places in the solar system with a 3D printer in a way that anyone can
see and touch and gain an understanding of places beyond Earth? Campers will investigate these questions and
delve into the processes of making science accessible to all.
The advanced version of this camp is designed for high school aged campers and will go deeper into the math
behind how the data is modeled in the computer. We will also learn to represent 3D models with code.
The Clemson Edition of this camp will feature a field trip to Clemson University where students experience the
science and research going on there.
This camp is designed for high school aged campers.
3D Planets – Clemson Edition
6/16/2024 3 PM – 6/21/2024 10 AM
Ages 11 – 15
Advanced 3D Planets – Clemson Edition
6/23/2024 3 PM – 6/28/2024 10 AM
Ages 14 – 17 years
3D Planets – PARI Edition
6/30/2024 3 PM – 7/5/2024 10 AM
Ages 11 – 15
Above & Beyond
7/7/2024 3 PM – 7/18/2024 10 AM
Grades 9th – 12th
Martian Frontier
7/21/2024 3 PM – 8/1/2024 10 AM
Grades 7th – 12th
Empowering today’s campers to become tomorrow’s leaders in space and science discovery

Raft + Rail A Fully Guided Experience
Jun 16 all-day
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

The original Raft & Rail© since 1988: enjoy the two best adventures in the region in one day, great for families. Southern Living Magazine calls this “an ideal adventure for families, first-timers, young or old.” This full-day guided adventure starts with a Wildwater staff member greeting you at the train depot, followed by a scenic train trip, deli lunch with all the fixings, and a Nantahala River whitewater trip with a guide in every boat. Hot showers and a photo show follow immediately after your 8-mile Nantahala River trip. All transportation is included to and from the Bryson City Train Depot. Available April–October with the morning departure of the Nantahala Gorge Excursion departing Bryson City, NC. Train seating in Open Air Gondola. 2024 bookings starting soon!

Ticket fares subject to 7% Historic Preservation Fee and 7% North Carolina sales tax. Schedules, fares, motive power, equipment, seat selection, and meals are subject to change without notice. We guarantee the class of service you select. You will be notified if a change in schedule or motive power affects your reservation. Payment in full at booking by major credit card is required to finalize a reservation. You may cancel your reservation in full or in part and receive a refund less a $14.00 fee per adult ticket and $7.00 fee per child ticket as late as 5 days before departure, except The Polar Express Train Ride; The Polar Express Train Ride is as late as 60 days before departure. Within 5 days of the departure, or 60 days in the case of the Polar Express Train Ride, the reservation becomes nonrefundable. You may reschedule any time prior to your originally scheduled departure with a $7.00 fee per ticket for another date within the same calendar year. You may not reschedule a reservation after the scheduled departure.

NC Arboretum Hiking Trails
Jun 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

Located within the wildly-popular and botanically beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains, The North Carolina Arboretum offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails that connect to many other area attractions such as Lake Powhatan, the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy their hiking experience at the Arboretum as trail options include easy, moderate, and difficult challenge levels. All trails are dog-friendly and visitors are asked to adhere to the proper waste disposing procedures for pets.

Part of a running group that would like to use the Arboretum as a starting point or parking location? Please review our Running Group Guidance and email [email protected] with any questions.

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden
Jun 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

What is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a challenging and rewarding horticultural activity, in which ordinary plants are grown in an extraordinary way. Through rigorously applied cultivation techniques, trees, shrubs, vines and even herbaceous plants are kept in a miniaturized state, developed into artistic shapes and then displayed in special containers.

What makes the Arboretum’s bonsai endeavor unique among all other public collections in the United States? Regional Interpretation. Visitors will find the Arboretum’s bonsai collection of more than 100 specimens carefully cultivated with a Southern Appalachian accent. The collection draws inspiration from the traditional roots of bonsai, but takes the form of a contemporary, Southern Appalachian influenced American garden. Plantings in the landscape include species and cultivars of American, European and Asian origin.

 

The Bonsai Exhibition Garden

Established in October 2005, The North Carolina Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden is a world renowned garden that displays up to 50 bonsai specimens at a time. Represented are traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm, tropical plants such as willow-leaf fig and bougainvillea, and American species such as bald cypress and limber pine. Of particular importance are the plants native to the Blue Ridge region, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine, which enable the Arboretum to bring the thousand-year tradition of bonsai home to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Interpretive signage throughout the garden conveys information about the art and history of bonsai, and the Arboretum’s own creative approach to it.

 

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden

  • Bonsai on Display Mid May – November; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
  • Garden Open Year Round
  • Parking Fees
    • Personal/Standard Vehicle (up to 20′ long): $20
    • Large vehicles (21′-29′ long): $60
    • Busses and Oversize Vehicles (30′ long+): $125
    • Members: Free

    Apart from the parking fee, there is no other admission charge to enter the Arboretum or our facilities, except in the case of advertised ticketed events.

Rocky Cove Railroad Exhibit
Jun 16 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
NC Arboretum

On exhibit Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 4 p.m., Rocky Cove Railroad is a G-Scale (garden scale) model train that demonstrates the coming of trains to western North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibit is located below the Grand Promenade. Please note, Rocky Cove Railroad will not operate in rainy or wet conditions.

History Comes Alive Festival: Charles Dickens Outdoor Show
Jun 16 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Greenville Tech

Cost: Free

Greenville Tech Barton Campus. Bring lawn seating.

In the case of inclement weather, we will move indoors (Seats require climbing stairs).  You will need to come early to get a seat. First come, first served.  Doors will open 45 minutes before show time.

Click here for a Greenville Tech – Barton Campus Map which shows the auditorium’s location (behind the Tent, in building 104) 

Monday, June 17, 2024
Mile High Swinging Bridge
Jun 17 all-day
Grandfather Mountain

One of the top highlights and memories of visits to Grandfather Mountain nature park is walking across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since 1952, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the bridge’s 360-degree panoramic views. America’s highest suspension footbridge gives easy access to the spectacular views atop Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, elevation 5,305 feet.

The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation (hence the name!). To reach the Mile High Swinging Bridge, drive the two-mile, winding scenic road up the mountain to the summit parking area by the Top Shop. Climb 50 stairs adjacent to the parking area or inside the Top Shop to reach the short pathway to the bridge. Also, an elevator in the Top Shop takes you to the third floor for a level walk to the bridge.

Top Shop

Located adjacent to the Bridge, the Top Shop features a gift shop, snacks, restrooms, elevator and second-floor exhibition area. Also get the latest park information and trail maps. Read more.

Accessibility

Inside the Top Shop, an elevator makes the Mile High Swinging Bridge accessible to people with mobility challenges, including those in wheelchairs. From the Top Shop, there is a paved 50-yard path to the bridge. Read more about our accessibility.

Tickets & Hours

Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge is included in your Grandfather Mountain admission ticket that includes many other things to do in our nature park. Buy tickets online and book a reservation time to enter the park. You do not need a separate reservation for the bridge. It’s open, weather permitting, every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. See hours.

More to Explore

Before or after visiting the Mile High Swinging Bridge, allow time to enjoy other parts of the mountain: wildlife habitats, Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, restaurant, hiking trails, roadside overlooks, picnic areas and more. See more Things to Do.

Nearby Hiking Trails

Trailheads to many of the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails are located near the Swinging Bridge. In fact, the 0.4 mile Bridge Trail takes you beneath the bridge, starting from the Black Rock parking area just below the summit. For details on our nearby trails, go to our Hiking Guide.

Bridge Tips & Tidbits

  • Does it really swing? Very little — unlike the original one. Today’s bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety.
  • We suggest you wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
  • If heights give you pause, you can still enjoy Blue Ridge Mountain views from the ground before you reach the bridge and even from the parking area.
  • Due to periodic extreme weather conditions at the bridge, it closes when there is area lightning, high wind or icy conditions.
  • The official U.S. Weather Service Reporting Station atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge has provided daily weather observations since 1955. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the flatlands you see below. It’s also one of the windiest locations in North Carolina, with a 124-mph record set in winter 2019. Learn more about our weather.
  • Pets are allowed on the bridge if well behaved and on a leash.
  • Photographs and videos to remember your visit are encouraged. Be mindful of sharp drop-offs along the Linville Peak ridge. Drones are not allowed. See our photography policies.
  • The Singing Bridge? When the wind blows, the Mile High Swinging Bridge “sings” in the same way as a harmonica.
  • In April through October, join Grandfather’s expert naturalists by the Bridge for Interpretive Talks about the our unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. Read more.
  • Need driving directions? The address for Grandfather Mountain’s entrance gate is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646 (click link for Google Maps). There are no shuttles, so you must have your own vehicle to explore our nature park. No RVs longer than 28 feet in length or hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. See detailed directions.
  • To see much more info, see our Plan Your Visit section.

Mile High Swinging Bridge History

Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the Bridge’s dedication in 1952. The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.

The original 1952 bridge was designed by Charles Hartmann Jr. of Greensboro, N.C. It was fabricated in Greensboro and then reassembled on top of the Mountain. Erecting the bridge took three weeks, a process slowed by inclement weather created by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast. Cost was $15,000. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1952 by North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now, Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span. It was redesigned by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C., and rebuilt by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville. The cost of rebuilding was $300,000.

Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation Map
Jun 17 @ 7:00 am
online
Summer is officially here, and it is bringing the HEAT! Whether you’re looking to cool off, grab a tan, or just keep the kids entertained, we’ve got a comprehensive interactive map of Upstate outdoor recreation opportunities that will keep you busy all season long!
The Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation map is an interactive resource that allows you to see everything from splash pads to hiking trails to playgrounds and more across the region. With so many opportunities, what will you check out first?!
NC Arboretum Hiking Trails
Jun 17 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

Located within the wildly-popular and botanically beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains, The North Carolina Arboretum offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails that connect to many other area attractions such as Lake Powhatan, the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy their hiking experience at the Arboretum as trail options include easy, moderate, and difficult challenge levels. All trails are dog-friendly and visitors are asked to adhere to the proper waste disposing procedures for pets.

Part of a running group that would like to use the Arboretum as a starting point or parking location? Please review our Running Group Guidance and email [email protected] with any questions.

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden
Jun 17 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

What is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a challenging and rewarding horticultural activity, in which ordinary plants are grown in an extraordinary way. Through rigorously applied cultivation techniques, trees, shrubs, vines and even herbaceous plants are kept in a miniaturized state, developed into artistic shapes and then displayed in special containers.

What makes the Arboretum’s bonsai endeavor unique among all other public collections in the United States? Regional Interpretation. Visitors will find the Arboretum’s bonsai collection of more than 100 specimens carefully cultivated with a Southern Appalachian accent. The collection draws inspiration from the traditional roots of bonsai, but takes the form of a contemporary, Southern Appalachian influenced American garden. Plantings in the landscape include species and cultivars of American, European and Asian origin.

 

The Bonsai Exhibition Garden

Established in October 2005, The North Carolina Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden is a world renowned garden that displays up to 50 bonsai specimens at a time. Represented are traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm, tropical plants such as willow-leaf fig and bougainvillea, and American species such as bald cypress and limber pine. Of particular importance are the plants native to the Blue Ridge region, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine, which enable the Arboretum to bring the thousand-year tradition of bonsai home to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Interpretive signage throughout the garden conveys information about the art and history of bonsai, and the Arboretum’s own creative approach to it.

 

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden

  • Bonsai on Display Mid May – November; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
  • Garden Open Year Round
  • Parking Fees
    • Personal/Standard Vehicle (up to 20′ long): $20
    • Large vehicles (21′-29′ long): $60
    • Busses and Oversize Vehicles (30′ long+): $125
    • Members: Free

    Apart from the parking fee, there is no other admission charge to enter the Arboretum or our facilities, except in the case of advertised ticketed events.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Mile High Swinging Bridge
Jun 18 all-day
Grandfather Mountain

One of the top highlights and memories of visits to Grandfather Mountain nature park is walking across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since 1952, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the bridge’s 360-degree panoramic views. America’s highest suspension footbridge gives easy access to the spectacular views atop Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, elevation 5,305 feet.

The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation (hence the name!). To reach the Mile High Swinging Bridge, drive the two-mile, winding scenic road up the mountain to the summit parking area by the Top Shop. Climb 50 stairs adjacent to the parking area or inside the Top Shop to reach the short pathway to the bridge. Also, an elevator in the Top Shop takes you to the third floor for a level walk to the bridge.

Top Shop

Located adjacent to the Bridge, the Top Shop features a gift shop, snacks, restrooms, elevator and second-floor exhibition area. Also get the latest park information and trail maps. Read more.

Accessibility

Inside the Top Shop, an elevator makes the Mile High Swinging Bridge accessible to people with mobility challenges, including those in wheelchairs. From the Top Shop, there is a paved 50-yard path to the bridge. Read more about our accessibility.

Tickets & Hours

Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge is included in your Grandfather Mountain admission ticket that includes many other things to do in our nature park. Buy tickets online and book a reservation time to enter the park. You do not need a separate reservation for the bridge. It’s open, weather permitting, every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. See hours.

More to Explore

Before or after visiting the Mile High Swinging Bridge, allow time to enjoy other parts of the mountain: wildlife habitats, Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, restaurant, hiking trails, roadside overlooks, picnic areas and more. See more Things to Do.

Nearby Hiking Trails

Trailheads to many of the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails are located near the Swinging Bridge. In fact, the 0.4 mile Bridge Trail takes you beneath the bridge, starting from the Black Rock parking area just below the summit. For details on our nearby trails, go to our Hiking Guide.

Bridge Tips & Tidbits

  • Does it really swing? Very little — unlike the original one. Today’s bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety.
  • We suggest you wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
  • If heights give you pause, you can still enjoy Blue Ridge Mountain views from the ground before you reach the bridge and even from the parking area.
  • Due to periodic extreme weather conditions at the bridge, it closes when there is area lightning, high wind or icy conditions.
  • The official U.S. Weather Service Reporting Station atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge has provided daily weather observations since 1955. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the flatlands you see below. It’s also one of the windiest locations in North Carolina, with a 124-mph record set in winter 2019. Learn more about our weather.
  • Pets are allowed on the bridge if well behaved and on a leash.
  • Photographs and videos to remember your visit are encouraged. Be mindful of sharp drop-offs along the Linville Peak ridge. Drones are not allowed. See our photography policies.
  • The Singing Bridge? When the wind blows, the Mile High Swinging Bridge “sings” in the same way as a harmonica.
  • In April through October, join Grandfather’s expert naturalists by the Bridge for Interpretive Talks about the our unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. Read more.
  • Need driving directions? The address for Grandfather Mountain’s entrance gate is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646 (click link for Google Maps). There are no shuttles, so you must have your own vehicle to explore our nature park. No RVs longer than 28 feet in length or hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. See detailed directions.
  • To see much more info, see our Plan Your Visit section.

Mile High Swinging Bridge History

Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the Bridge’s dedication in 1952. The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.

The original 1952 bridge was designed by Charles Hartmann Jr. of Greensboro, N.C. It was fabricated in Greensboro and then reassembled on top of the Mountain. Erecting the bridge took three weeks, a process slowed by inclement weather created by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast. Cost was $15,000. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1952 by North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now, Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span. It was redesigned by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C., and rebuilt by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville. The cost of rebuilding was $300,000.

Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation Map
Jun 18 @ 7:00 am
online
Summer is officially here, and it is bringing the HEAT! Whether you’re looking to cool off, grab a tan, or just keep the kids entertained, we’ve got a comprehensive interactive map of Upstate outdoor recreation opportunities that will keep you busy all season long!
The Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation map is an interactive resource that allows you to see everything from splash pads to hiking trails to playgrounds and more across the region. With so many opportunities, what will you check out first?!
NC Arboretum Hiking Trails
Jun 18 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

Located within the wildly-popular and botanically beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains, The North Carolina Arboretum offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails that connect to many other area attractions such as Lake Powhatan, the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy their hiking experience at the Arboretum as trail options include easy, moderate, and difficult challenge levels. All trails are dog-friendly and visitors are asked to adhere to the proper waste disposing procedures for pets.

Part of a running group that would like to use the Arboretum as a starting point or parking location? Please review our Running Group Guidance and email [email protected] with any questions.

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden
Jun 18 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

What is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a challenging and rewarding horticultural activity, in which ordinary plants are grown in an extraordinary way. Through rigorously applied cultivation techniques, trees, shrubs, vines and even herbaceous plants are kept in a miniaturized state, developed into artistic shapes and then displayed in special containers.

What makes the Arboretum’s bonsai endeavor unique among all other public collections in the United States? Regional Interpretation. Visitors will find the Arboretum’s bonsai collection of more than 100 specimens carefully cultivated with a Southern Appalachian accent. The collection draws inspiration from the traditional roots of bonsai, but takes the form of a contemporary, Southern Appalachian influenced American garden. Plantings in the landscape include species and cultivars of American, European and Asian origin.

 

The Bonsai Exhibition Garden

Established in October 2005, The North Carolina Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden is a world renowned garden that displays up to 50 bonsai specimens at a time. Represented are traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm, tropical plants such as willow-leaf fig and bougainvillea, and American species such as bald cypress and limber pine. Of particular importance are the plants native to the Blue Ridge region, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine, which enable the Arboretum to bring the thousand-year tradition of bonsai home to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Interpretive signage throughout the garden conveys information about the art and history of bonsai, and the Arboretum’s own creative approach to it.

 

Outdoor Bonsai Exhibition Garden

  • Bonsai on Display Mid May – November; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
  • Garden Open Year Round
  • Parking Fees
    • Personal/Standard Vehicle (up to 20′ long): $20
    • Large vehicles (21′-29′ long): $60
    • Busses and Oversize Vehicles (30′ long+): $125
    • Members: Free

    Apart from the parking fee, there is no other admission charge to enter the Arboretum or our facilities, except in the case of advertised ticketed events.

Guided Trail Walk
Jun 18 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
NC Arboretum

Hit the trails and learn more about The North Carolina Arboretum’s botanically diverse forest with a guided trail walk! April through October, this free hiking program is led by trained volunteer guides who take small groups of participants along woodland trails and through a variety of forest types. Depending on the season and each guide’s area of expertise, topics of discussion may include wildflowers, plant and tree identification, natural history and more.

Guided trail walks are limited to 15 people, including the guide, and are not recommended for guests under 16 years of age. Groups depart from the Baker Visitor Center Lobby on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m..

Walks last 1.5 – 2.5 hours, are approximately one to two miles in length. As this program is held rain or shine, all participants should dress appropriately for the weather.

There is no pre-registration; walks are first-come first served and sign up sheets are located in the Baker Visitors Center.

Walks are FREE; however, donations to The North Carolina Arboretum Society are appreciated. Regular parking fees apply. Arboretum Society Members always park free.

Know Before You Go

  • Guided Trail Walks are not recommended for guests under 16 years of age.
  • Guided Trail Walks are rain or shine and all participants should be dressed comfortably and for the weather.
  • Hikes cover 1-2 miles and last 1.5-2 hours.
  • Well-behaved leashed pets are welcome to accompany their owners. In the rare case that a pet is disruptive or negatively impacts the experience, the pet and its owner may be asked to excuse themselves from the guided walk.
Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Mile High Swinging Bridge
Jun 19 all-day
Grandfather Mountain

One of the top highlights and memories of visits to Grandfather Mountain nature park is walking across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since 1952, visitors have “oohed” and “aahed” at the bridge’s 360-degree panoramic views. America’s highest suspension footbridge gives easy access to the spectacular views atop Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, elevation 5,305 feet.

The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation (hence the name!). To reach the Mile High Swinging Bridge, drive the two-mile, winding scenic road up the mountain to the summit parking area by the Top Shop. Climb 50 stairs adjacent to the parking area or inside the Top Shop to reach the short pathway to the bridge. Also, an elevator in the Top Shop takes you to the third floor for a level walk to the bridge.

Top Shop

Located adjacent to the Bridge, the Top Shop features a gift shop, snacks, restrooms, elevator and second-floor exhibition area. Also get the latest park information and trail maps. Read more.

Accessibility

Inside the Top Shop, an elevator makes the Mile High Swinging Bridge accessible to people with mobility challenges, including those in wheelchairs. From the Top Shop, there is a paved 50-yard path to the bridge. Read more about our accessibility.

Tickets & Hours

Walking across the Mile High Swinging Bridge is included in your Grandfather Mountain admission ticket that includes many other things to do in our nature park. Buy tickets online and book a reservation time to enter the park. You do not need a separate reservation for the bridge. It’s open, weather permitting, every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. See hours.

More to Explore

Before or after visiting the Mile High Swinging Bridge, allow time to enjoy other parts of the mountain: wildlife habitats, Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, restaurant, hiking trails, roadside overlooks, picnic areas and more. See more Things to Do.

Nearby Hiking Trails

Trailheads to many of the Grandfather Mountain hiking trails are located near the Swinging Bridge. In fact, the 0.4 mile Bridge Trail takes you beneath the bridge, starting from the Black Rock parking area just below the summit. For details on our nearby trails, go to our Hiking Guide.

Bridge Tips & Tidbits

  • Does it really swing? Very little — unlike the original one. Today’s bridge is made of steel and reinforced with cables and springs. It has railings on the sides to ensure safety.
  • We suggest you wear rubber-soled shoes and walk with care when crossing the rocks on the far side of the bridge.
  • If heights give you pause, you can still enjoy Blue Ridge Mountain views from the ground before you reach the bridge and even from the parking area.
  • Due to periodic extreme weather conditions at the bridge, it closes when there is area lightning, high wind or icy conditions.
  • The official U.S. Weather Service Reporting Station atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge has provided daily weather observations since 1955. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the flatlands you see below. It’s also one of the windiest locations in North Carolina, with a 124-mph record set in winter 2019. Learn more about our weather.
  • Pets are allowed on the bridge if well behaved and on a leash.
  • Photographs and videos to remember your visit are encouraged. Be mindful of sharp drop-offs along the Linville Peak ridge. Drones are not allowed. See our photography policies.
  • The Singing Bridge? When the wind blows, the Mile High Swinging Bridge “sings” in the same way as a harmonica.
  • In April through October, join Grandfather’s expert naturalists by the Bridge for Interpretive Talks about the our unique weather, climate, flora and fauna. Read more.
  • Need driving directions? The address for Grandfather Mountain’s entrance gate is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646 (click link for Google Maps). There are no shuttles, so you must have your own vehicle to explore our nature park. No RVs longer than 28 feet in length or hinged vehicles are allowed through the Entrance Gate. See detailed directions.
  • To see much more info, see our Plan Your Visit section.

Mile High Swinging Bridge History

Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile High Swinging Bridge” at the Bridge’s dedication in 1952. The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet). The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.

The original 1952 bridge was designed by Charles Hartmann Jr. of Greensboro, N.C. It was fabricated in Greensboro and then reassembled on top of the Mountain. Erecting the bridge took three weeks, a process slowed by inclement weather created by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast. Cost was $15,000. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1952 by North Carolina Gov. William B. Umstead.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel. One of the main advantages of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted. Now, Grandfather Mountain employees will not have to hang out over the gorge to paint the span. It was redesigned by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering of Asheville, N.C., and rebuilt by Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville. The cost of rebuilding was $300,000.

National Park Fee Free Days: Juneteenth National Independence Day
Jun 19 all-day
Carl Sandburg Home

National Park Fee Free Days

Please check operating status at this park and others before traveling as holidays and local weather or safety conditions can affect hours of operation.

Come experience the national parks! On six days in 2024, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2024:

Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation Map
Jun 19 @ 7:00 am
online
Summer is officially here, and it is bringing the HEAT! Whether you’re looking to cool off, grab a tan, or just keep the kids entertained, we’ve got a comprehensive interactive map of Upstate outdoor recreation opportunities that will keep you busy all season long!
The Upstate Outdoor Activity & Recreation map is an interactive resource that allows you to see everything from splash pads to hiking trails to playgrounds and more across the region. With so many opportunities, what will you check out first?!
NC Arboretum Hiking Trails
Jun 19 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
NC Arboretum

Located within the wildly-popular and botanically beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains, The North Carolina Arboretum offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails that connect to many other area attractions such as Lake Powhatan, the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy their hiking experience at the Arboretum as trail options include easy, moderate, and difficult challenge levels. All trails are dog-friendly and visitors are asked to adhere to the proper waste disposing procedures for pets.

Part of a running group that would like to use the Arboretum as a starting point or parking location? Please review our Running Group Guidance and email [email protected] with any questions.