Grandfather Mountain reopens with limitations May 15

Cole Elledge, Reporter

Grandfather Mountain is set for a soft reopening May 15, according to a press release.

The opening comes after a two-month closure and follows Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phase plan to reopen North Carolina. 

Grandfather Mountain increased its staff presence and cleaning procedures are stricter. Extra sanitization stations have also been added.

“When we get to Phase Two, there will be more facilities open and more people allowed to come to the park, and the same with Phase Three,” said Jesse Pope, president and executive director of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is the organization that owns Grandfather Mountain.

Tickets are no longer sold at the entrance of the mountain, but instead, sold online in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The tickets are fully refundable.Visitors are required to place reservations. 

Selling tickets online follows Gov. Cooper’s plans for reopening, but park officials have taken further measures to maintain social distancing.

“The safety of our guests and staff comes first and foremost,” Pope said.

High-traffic pedestrian areas, such as the Mile High Swinging Bridge and wildlife reservations, have one-way directional systems to prevent visitors from coming within six feet of each other. Visitors are allowed to stay in these areas for a limited amount of time. 

The number of visitors allowed in such areas is restricted based on state social gathering recommendations. Mass gatherings, or groups of 10 or more people, are prohibited according to Cooper’s Executive Order 138.

The Nature Museum and Fudge Shop, located in the attraction area outside the park, will remain closed. The Top Shop, which provides elevator access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, remains open. The number of visitors allowed in the Top Shop is limited. 

Visitors can still go to the park’s picnic areas and the public restrooms at Wood Walk Picnic Area. Mildred’s Grill, the park’s restaurant, offers curbside pick-up.

Pope said the opening date and guidelines are subject to change based on current conditions and federal, state and local regulations. Those planning a trip are encouraged to check for updates.