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Ecology

A dark view of Mount Mitchell State Park
Current status of park facilities   

Restrooms are open.

The summit observation tower is now open every day. 

The gift shop and concessions are now open. It will be operating under reduced hours and will be debit/credit sales only. Face masks and social distancing required.
-  Friday - Tuesday
-  10:00 am - 5:30 pm

The park office lobby area is open for self-service information from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily.

The campground inside the park is open. Reservations required; no walk-ins permitted. Reserve online or by calling 1-877-722-6762. There is no check-in at the office. Please go straight to your campsite. No firewood is available for sale. Please bring your own kiln-dried firewood, available at most supermarkets and gas stations. The Campground is fully booked through the end of the Season (Oct. 15th), unless someone cancels.

The following facilities remain closed:
-  Restaurant 
-  Museum 

Overnight parking is permitted for people backcountry camping in the surrounding National Forest. Please fill out a parking pass and leave it on the dashboard of your car. Passes are located in the boxes where the overnight parking signs are at the summit, and the restaurant parking lots. There is no charge for this. The US Forest Service is not permitting camping at Commissary Hill at the moment. There is no overnight parking permitted at the park office. 

Please check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. 

To check Blue Ridge Parkway road closures, please visit their website.

Please note that this alert is updated only when something changes. 

 Last updated on: Thursday, September 10, 2020


Map of North Carolina – Mount Mitchell State Park


Contact the park
 

828-675-4611

mount.mitchell@ncparks.gov

 

Restaurant

828-675-1888
 


Address
 

Park office

2388 N.C. 128
Burnsville, NC 28714

GPS: 35.7528, -82.2737
 

Hours
 

► 

  • 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
     

► 
 

  • 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
     

► 

  • The museum is currently closed until further notice.
     
  • May to October:
    10:00am to 6:00pm
     

► 

  • The restaurant is currently closed all year for renovations.
     
  • May 3 to August 31:
    11:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • September 1 to October 31:
    11:00am to 7:00pm
     

► 
 

  • May 24 to November 30:

Friday to Tuesday:
10:00am to 5:30pm
 

► 

  • This service is temporarily unavailable until further notice.
     
  • July 1 to October 31:

Friday to Sunday:
10:00am to 6:00pm
 

  • At any other time:
    Please call the park office several days ahead of your visit to schedule this assistance.
     

 

 

 

Natural resources

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.