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Ecology


2388 N.C. 128
Burnsville, NC 28714

Office: 828-675-4611
Restaurant: 828-675-1888
mount.mitchell@ncparks.gov

 

Map of North Carolina

GPS: 35.7528, -82.2737

 

Hours

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  • November to February:
    7:00am to 6:00pm
     
  • March to April:
    7:00am to 8:00pm
     
  • May to August:
    7:00am to 10:00pm
     
  • September to October:
    7:00am to 9:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

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  • November to March:
    8:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays; closed on weekends
     
  • April to October:
    8:00am to 5:00pm daily
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

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  • May to October:
    10:00am to 6:00pm
     

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  • May 3 to August 31:
    11:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • September 1 to October 31:
    11:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Next year (2020) the restaurant will be closed for renovations.
     

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  • May 24 to October 31:
    10:00am to 6:00pm
     

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  • July 1 to October 31:
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    Friday through Sunday
     
  • At any other time:
    Please call the park office several days ahead of your visit to schedule this assistance.
     
Park Closure   

Mount Mitchell State Park is closed due to icy road conditions. The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed form Rt 80 north of the park to Craggy Gardens south of the park. Please check the Blue Ridge Road Closure Map for up to date information. https://www.nps.gov/maps/full.html?mapId=e212fcb5-4ff9-4787-bbe4-3d40cc0d0daa#12/35.7625/-82.2

 Last updated on: Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Winter Hours   

Please note Mt. Mitchell State Park is now operating on our Winter Hours Schedule from 7am to 6pm EST. The Museum, Gift Shop, Concession Stand, Restaurant, and Campground are now closed for the season. The Park Office will remain open from 8am-5pm Monday - Friday. 
The only open restrooms are located at the Park Office.

 Last updated on: Thursday, November 7, 2019

Get plant and animal checklists at the park office.

When Andre Michaux and Elisha Mitchell explored the Black Mountains in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they documented forests with an extraordinary variety of plant species. Red spruce covered the upper slopes, and Fraser fir dominated the peaks above 6,000 feet. Hardwood forests, including majestic stands of American chestnut, oaks, and hickories, populated the slopes below 5,000 feet, and rhododendron thickets cloaked forest streams.

These forests have long been affected and shaped by a variety of natural factors, including wind, ice, snow, drought, and infrequent lightning-caused fires. But unrestrained logging, huge fires in the logging slash, and chestnut blight brought drastic changes to the forests throughout the Black Mountains in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These impacts were followed in the 1950s by the arrival of the balsam woolly adelgid, an insect pest native to central Europe. The adelgids infested and killed large numbers of the Fraser firs, permanently altering the forest ecology in the highest elevations of the Black Mountains. Today, scientists have determined that air pollution and acid-laden precipitation are also contributing to the long term decline of Mount Mitchell's spruce-fir forests. In fact, on eight out of ten days, Mount Mitchell is covered in clouds and fog that are sometimes as acidic as vinegar. Faced with a combination of stresses, the forests of the Black Mountains have been irreparably altered.

The forests we see today are quite different from those documented by Mitchell and Michaux; but in spite of the losses suffered over the last century, the flora of Mount Mitchell remains among the most distinctive and diverse in the Southern Appalachians. The park protects the most extensive assortment of rare plant and animal species in the state park system, and the spruce-fir forests, while greatly diminished, are still present. Red spruce, fire cherry, yellow birch, mountain ash, and mountain maple have filled gaps opened by the loss of Fraser fir, and other native plant species such as blueberry, mountain raspberry, red elder, and bush honeysuckle produce beautiful blossoms and lend fragrance to the air. Wildflowers, including ox-eye daisy, white snakeroot, purple-fringed orchid, St. John's wort and pink turtlehead color the landscape.

Like the flora, the fauna of Mount Mitchell is abundant and diverse. Bird watchers have recorded 91 species in the park. Birds more characteristic of New England and Canada—including winter wrens, slate-colored juncos, red crossbills and golden-crowned kinglets—nest at these high altitudes. Spring and summer bring the drumming of ruffed grouse. From the observation tower, visitors can often see peregrine falcons whipping past.

Lucky visitors might also catch a glimpse of a northern flying squirrel or hear the call of the saw-whet owl. White-tailed deer, black bear and striped skunk are at home here as well, and at night a bobcat or gray fox might be seen.