The rugged peaks and profile of Grandfather Mountain are among the most recognized landmarks in western North Carolina. Located near the town of Blowing Rock, the ancient peaks of Grandfather are the highest in the Blue Ridge. Calloway Peak reaches an elevation of 1,819 m (5,968 feet) and several other prominences have elevations above 1,600 m (5,249 feet). The site has an exceptional diversity of habitats, from rocky cliffs and balds to spruce-fir and cove forests, which support 60 rare plants and animals.

Ornithological Summary

The diversity of breeding birds at this site is probably the highest of any site in North Carolina and probably the second highest in the US. At least 118 breeding season species have been recorded and other are expected (Criteria 4g). The site is significant for species of conservation concern, such as Coopers Hawk, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper (Criteria 2). It is one of North Carolina's key sites for Northern Saw-whet Owl (Criteria 4a). Significant spruce-fir forest exists on Grandfather Mountain and supports the suite of species associated with this habitat type (Critieria 3).

Conservation Issues

Air pollution (acid and mercury deposition), introduced pests.

The key conservation issue is the loss of spruce-fir forest and hemlock cove forest due to invasive insect pests and acid rain.


The core of the site is protected as a new State Park (2008). The Blue Ridge Parkway receives federal
protection as a National Park, including Price Park and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The site is buffered to the south by the Wilson Creek?Linville Gorge Important Bird Area (Pisgah National Forest).


Spruce-fir forest, northern hardwood forests, cove hardwoods, balds, rocky cliff.

Land Use

Wildlife conservation, recreation and tourism, second-home development.

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