Grandfather Mountain closes after executive order bans gatherings of 100 or more

Moss Brennan, Political Editor

Grandfather Mountain will close for two weeks to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. This closure takes effect Sunday. 

The public will not be allowed to access the park, including the main entrance gate and hiking trails.

“While we’re disappointed that we can’t provide the experience we normally offer to our guests, we’re trying to be socially responsible to help minimize the impact of the virus on our community,” Jesse Pope said in a press release.

Pope is the president and executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the nature preserve.

Operations were suspended after an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people.

The park will have animal habitat keepers, maintenance, administration and security on site during the closure. The park will also adhere to guidelines and recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and local officials.

“Grandfather Mountain is a place of nature, but guests and staff remain our No. 1 priority,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications, in a press release. “We encourage all to follow best practices to ensure the health and safety of not only our environment, but each other.”

The closure marks Grandfather Mountain’s longest disruption since a severe ice storm hit the High Country in early 2010.

“Throughout the closure, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and make appropriate responses as anything unfolds,” Pope said.

Grandfather Mountain will post updates at www.grandfather.com and on social media.

“Our biggest concern here, obviously, is the health and safety of our staff and guests,” Pope said. “We’re going to make sure that none of our current staff are negatively impacted by the closure and that everyone is receiving paychecks.”

The announcement does not apply to the adjacent Grandfather Mountain State Park. For more information on the state park, visit www.ncparks.gov/grandfather-mountain-state-park/home.