Outdoors Recreation

Outdoors: Rhododendrons and Photography at Grandfather Mountain

Rhododendron on Grandfather Mountain. Photo courtesy of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

By Emma Castleberry

Grandfather Mountain is busy this June, with an events calendar that makes great use of the mild and sunny summer weather. Early June will be your last chance to catch a Rhododendron Ramble, short, guided strolls held daily that highlight Grandfather Mountain’s rhododendron species and blooms. “The Rhododendron Ramble is a guided walk led by staff naturalists to areas in the park with colorful blooms,” says Landis Taylor, assistant vice president of marketing and communications at the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Participants will learn the history of the plant, characteristics of the plant and the roles they play in the mountain’s ecological communities.” The rambles culminate on Sunday, June 5, with the All-Day Rhododendron Ramble, with a special speaker and activities throughout the day.

An Animal Birthday Party takes place on Wednesday, June 8, with games, contests, crafts and surprises. “This is one day where we celebrate all the habitat animals that call Grandfather Mountain home,” says Taylor. “It’s a day of fun for park guests and all of the habitat animals.” Both the Rhododendron Rambles and the Animal Birthday Party are included with the price of admission to Grandfather Mountain.

Kodiak the Bear. Photo by Skip Sickler

The annual Nature Photography Weekend begins on Friday, June 10, and runs through Sunday, June 12, with presentations by MindShift Gear and Think Tank photographer Vinny Colucci; award-winning nature photographer Jamie Konarski Davidson; Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens” Tony Sweet; celebrated nature and commercial photographer and instructor Tommy White; and Fujifilm Global X-Photographer and Nature Photography Weekend co-founder Bill Fortney. “I have not been to one of the events in a number of years, but they are all special and draw a very warm and wonderful audience so I am sure this year will be much like all the others—a great event,” says Fortney. “There is great interest in nature photography throughout the region and it is a wonderful educational and inspirational time together.”

The weekend will include morning and evening presentations, providing participants the opportunity to venture out into Grandfather Mountain during the day to take photos. There will also be outdoor field sessions with professionals as well as a photography contest. Camping at the Woods Walk Picnic Area will be available on Friday and Saturday night. “This year’s Nature Photography Weekend will be held in the newly opened Wilson Center for Nature Discovery,” says Taylor. “This will be one of our first events taking advantage of this new educational space. Participants will use the large event space for programming, the main meal and as a place to congregate, see old friends and edit photography.”

Other events in June include an Adult Field Course about North Carolina fireflies with Dr. Clyde Sorenson on Saturday, June 11; an opportunity to see synchronous fireflies at Grandfather Glows on Sunday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 29; and a Project OWL (Outdoor Wonders and Learning) Educator workshop on Friday, June 17, presented by the North Carolina Arboretum and open exclusively to educators.

For more information or to register for events, visit Grandfather.com.

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