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Grandfather Mountain welcomes patrons seeking recreational opportunities

To ensure safety for visitors Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina is requiring to book time slots online. Social-distancing markers are in place to encourage groups to stay apart from other groups. Masks are required indoors, and outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained. Photos by Tamas Mondovics.

By Tamas Mondovics

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its ride, many are looking for recreational opportunities, most of which seem to guide locals to enjoy the great outdoors. While there is no shortage of possibilities, one sure destination for young and old is, North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain.

“Things are going well at the park; I’m happy to say,” said Frank Ruggiero, TMP Director of Marketing & Communications, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

To ensure each visit will be as efficient as possible, Ruggiero emphasized that park officials have required visitors to book their reservations online for certain time slots, limiting the number of people in the park at one time.

“On a full day, we’re currently under 50 percent capacity, with around 1,800 people,” he said while drawing attention to the numbers. Social-distancing markers are also in place to encourage parties to stay apart from other parties, and masks are required indoors always and outdoors when safe social distancing cannot be maintained.

“We’ve cut down our seating capacity in the restaurant, with tables spaced at least six feet apart, and all point-of-sales stations have protective barriers between staff and guests,” Ruggiero added. “We’ve also added sanitization stations throughout.”

For the more heavily trafficked areas of the park, such as the Mile High Swinging Bridge and environmental wildlife habitats, the park has implemented one-way traffic systems.  One may picture a road closure with a flagger, allowing one-way traffic in turn from each direction. Like so, we have staff members stationed in these areas to assist and direct.

The exhibit section of the Nature Museum and auditorium at the park are closed for renovation, actually, as part of our Conservation Campus project, but Ruggiero said that the restaurant and gift shops remain open, including the Fudge Shop. However, “we’re still limiting capacity on people in buildings at one time and, of course, everyone must wear a mask or face covering.”

All that said, Grandfather Mountain officials are fortunate that, in a sense, the Park has always provided an opportunity for natural social distancing. By and large, guests respect the rules and seem grateful for the safe environment we’re striving to provide. For more information about Grandfather Mountain, please visit