Tickets are on sale for Grandfather Mountain’s Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight

Last Updated on September 6, 2023 11:05 am

LINVILLE, N.C. – Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, will once again host its Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight event this fall. The after-hours program allows guests to embrace their nocturnal side and enjoy rare after-dark tours, fireside tales and a chance to meet the park’s nighttime residents.

It will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and is open to 48 participants. Tickets are $40 for general admission or $34 for Bridge Club members, and are currently on sale online.

New this year, a rain date has been scheduled in case weather is forecasted to be unfavorable on the event date. The rain date will be Saturday, Oct. 7. Participants should plan to be available for both dates, as no refunds will be given if the event is moved to the rain date. Participants will be notified by noon the day of the event if the decision has been made to move Creatures of the Night to the rain date.

The evening begins around the glow of a bonfire at the Woods Walk Picnic Area. Guests will then have the opportunity to partake in a variety of experiences, as the group splits up and alternates between different parts of the mountain.

Participants will embark on an hour-long guided Nocturnal Prowl around Grandfather. The journey starts with a trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) at the Mile High Swinging Bridge, after which the group will make its way down to the Mildred the Bear Animal Habitats for a rare chance to visit some of the resident animals after dark. There will be four separate tour times offered throughout the evening, allowing for 12 participants on each tour. Guests will be assigned their tour time upon arrival.

The tour is conducted using red-light flashlights, with an emphasis on the guests’ sensory experience while getting up close with the park’s bears, otters, elk and cougars. An educational focus is also placed on how the animals may use their senses of smell or eyesight to navigate or hunt at night.

“With the cougars, for example, you get to see their eyes shine in the dark,” said Christie Tipton, animal habitats curator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “With the bears, we take treats with us, and you get to see how strong their sense of smell is as they come out. A lot of times you hear the animals before you see them.”

Groups will descend back to the Woods Walk Picnic Area to gather around the fire, roast s’mores and hear folktales from one of the mountain’s educators.

“Historically, we go the route of spooky, local folklore,” Tipton said. “However, the subject material depends on the person telling the stories. Either way, guests are sure to be in for a treat.”

Participants will be able to listen to storytelling either before or after their tour.

Another nighttime expedition that is offered as part of the evening is a guided “owl prowl” in search of barred owls or screech owls.

“For the owl prowl, we’ll typically walk away from the bonfire,” Tipton said. “The group gets very quiet, and we listen to the woods around us. If we hear a call from an owl, we’ll talk about characteristics of that species. We can’t guarantee the group will hear owls, but sometimes we do get lucky and hear some during the event.”

Participants should be prepared for a variety of the mountain’s weather conditions. It is recommended that they bring a rain jacket, gloves and additional layers of clothing. Fall evenings on the mountain can be surprisingly cold. Guests should also wear appropriate shoes or hiking boots in order to be comfortable while exploring the mountain’s rugged terrain.

Red-light flashlights are given out, but guests are also welcome to bring their own. Participants must bring their own s’more-making ingredients. S’more-making sticks are provided, in addition to light refreshments, such as apple cider and hot chocolate.

For more information on this year’s Creatures of the Night and to purchase tickets, visit

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit

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