Despite flood damage to U.S. 221, Grandfather Mountain remains open.  

Recent heavy rains and flash-flooding washed out a portion of U.S. 221 between Linville and Blowing Rock, approximately 2 miles north of the Grandfather Mountain Entrance Gate, and will be closed for some time for repairs.  But to get to Grandfather Mountain from the Boone and Blowing Rock areas, take Highway 105 South to U.S. 221 North, while those traveling from Asheville can follow U.S. 221 North directly to Grandfather Mountain’s Entrance Gate.

Access from the Blue Ridge Parkway is still limited. The plan was for maintenance work on the Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct to be completed last week and reopened, but the final steps have been delayed due to the wet weather.

Grandfather Mountain State Park did not suffer any damage, but many of the backcountry hiking trails were affected by the heavy rain. As such, the Nuwati and Cragway trails are closed for repair. The other trails are open, weather permitting, but hikers are urged to exercise extreme caution due to erosion and slick surfaces.

One of the upcoming events is The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble, as Grandfather Mountain offers guided walks celebrate the vivid pink Catawba rhododendron blooms June 1-9. This series of short, guided strolls, each held at 1 p.m. daily June 1-8, allows visitors to observe the blooms and learn from naturalists about their history, characteristics and roles they play in the mountain’s ecological communities. The programs are free with regular park admission.

The Rhododendron Ramble at Grandfather Mountain will begin June 1, with daily hikes leading to spectacular views. These hikes will begin at 1 p.m., and the location will depend on the blooms. Participants are encouraged to inquire at the Grandfather Mountain Entrance Gate for the start point of that day’s hikes.

The Rhododendron Ramble will culminate on Saturday, June 9, with a native plant festival and multiple hikes. From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., local organizations, botanists and plant nurseries will be located at the Let-It-Rain Picnic Shelter with information about native plants and their extensive benefits.

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on June 9, there will be a special kids’ craft activity taking place at the picnic shelter. Kids will have the opportunity to make their own rhododendron blossoms to take home.

The naturalists will also host a series of short hikes that will highlight the magnificent beauty and natural history of rhododendron. The hikes will be on hourly rotations and will be divided into ability groups. Gusts should inquire at the Rhododendron Ramble Information Booth at the Let-It-Rain Picnic Shelter for the exact meeting location of each hike.

The beginner level hike will travel through Woods Walk from 11 a.m. to noon. Woods Walk is about a quarter-mile loop, with mild terrain and little elevation change.

The advanced level hike will take place at Black Rock (about 1.5 miles) from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and will highlight a higher elevation rhododendron and acid cove forests.

The intermediate level hike will run from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., taking participants through McRae Meadows to finish at Point Sublime (about a 1-mile loop).

Participants should select their hike based on their ability, but all programs are open to everyone. Each hike will be led by a member of Grandfather Mountain’s naturalist staff, who will be providing interpretive knowledge about the surrounding rhododendron ecology.

Grandfather Mountain has begun operating on its summer hours, open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 pm., with ticket sales ending at 6 pm. For more information, visit Grandfather.com.