Walk on the Wild Side at The WNC Nature Center
Wild Aventure Awaits!
Enjoy a day with the wild locals at the Western North Carolina Nature Center. A wonderful local treasure, this 42-acre zoological park is open 7 days a week, rain or shine. It is located in East Asheville, just 10 minutes away from downtown Asheville, and is a fun way to spend the day.
Nature Center History
First opened in 1973 as the Children’s Zoo and Nature Center, it was renamed the Western North Carolina Nature Center in 1976. The center’s mission is to connect people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachians. With over 60 species of animals and hundreds of plants, there is plenty to see, learn, and explore.
Those who like all things slithery will enjoy the Appalachian Station which houses a variety of reptiles (including rattlesnakes and copperheads), amphibians and small mammals. While everyone might not agree on the charm of snakes, otters seem to be universally loved. Just around the corner from the Appalachian Station, the fun-loving North American River Otters slip-slide, jump, and dive at Otter Falls. Young visitors take turns sliding down the nearby otter slide set up just for them.
Even the smallest of guests can be farm hands down at the barn and petting zoo. Located on the lower level of the center, the barn and the petting zoo are a hit with younger kids. In the interactive barn, they can sweep hay and learn about farm life. Just beyond the barn lie the Heritage Garden and the Poultry Palace, home of the Nature Center's chickens. In the corral, guest will find two pygmy donkeys relaxing. The nearby goats and sheep in the petting zoo are the perfect size for little hands to pet.
Cougars, and Owls, and Bears, Oh My!
The Western North Carolina Nature Center has one of the largest collections of Southern Appalachian animal species in the world. Here you can visit a black bear, attempt to spot a white tailed deer, come face to face with owls, and watch cougars relax in their enclosure. Also, not to be missed, are the foxes (both grey and red), the bobcat, the coyotes, and the wolves.
Hiking the Center
The Trillion Nature trail is a short, easy, .6 trail hike that winds around native habitat. Most of the plants and foliage are labeled, some with descriptions so guests can learn about the indigenous plant life. After the hike, kids can explore the Arachnid Adventure Playground and climb up to the top of the web.
Nature enthusiasts and those looking to hit the trails will find everything they are looking for at Elkhorn Cabin. This lovely 3-bedroom, 2-bath cabin has a hiking trail on the property that leads to the Mountains to Sea Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway Trail. If your travel party is larger, the adjacent Eagle’s Wing Lodge sleeps 12 and has outstanding views of nature from the observation tower.
This is the perfect time to come and explore the Nature Center and everything else this wonderful area has to offer. Call Carolina Mornings today to book your Asheville area getaway.