Western North Carolina Nature Center

Allison recently shared about Biltmore Estates in Asheville, Sarah C. has another suggestion for those headed west for a vacation this summer:

WesternNCNatureCenter-TurtlesOn a trip to Asheville this past spring, D quickly spotted billboards with photos of animals and let us know he wanted to go. The place? The Western North Carolina Nature Center.

The WNC Nature Center is located conveniently off I-40 on the southern side of Asheville. It features over 40 acres of Southern Appalachian habitat. There are, of course, many different types of animals to observe. As with the NC Zoo, it is to your advantage to visit earlier in the day or on a cooler weather day. Our visit happened to be in the afternoon so it was a bit warm and many of the animals were hiding in the shade or napping. We still enjoyed our visit as there is so much to do.

WesternNCNatureCenter-CougarTo view the animals, expect to follow paved paths throughout the Nature Center. It is fully stroller and wheelchair accessible – just note you may have to take the longer route at times to avoid stairs. If you want to stretch your legs a little further, follow the signs to the Trillium Nature Trail for a .6 mile trail along the Swannanoa River.

There are several spots located throughout the Nature Center for kids to play and burn energy. In Otter Falls kids can “slide like an otter” on a wavy slide built into a rock hill. The Arachnid Adventure Playground provides a great spot to climb and see if you can spy all the spiders (no fear, these are just giant fake spider placed around the play area). And where we spent a lot of time – the Builder’s Deck and puppet theater not too far from the entrance.

Good to know:

  • WesternNCNatureCenter-OtterSlideThe WNC Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums which means if you have a NC Zoo or NC Aquariums membership you can visit the WNC Nature Center for free. Just be sure to have your membership card and a photo ID.
  • Be sure to pack snacks or plan to buy them from the vending machines. There is no restaurant on site. There are picnic tables. Check the map for locations.

Western North Carolina Nature Center
http://www.wncnaturecenter.com | Download a Map to plan your visit (PDF)
Hours: 10am – 5pm daily (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)

Current Admission Costs (2014)
Adults $8 (Asheville City Residents – $6)
Seniors (65 & over) – $7 (Asheville City Residents – $5)
Youth (3-15) – $4
2 and younger free

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