The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble Returns to Grandfather Mountain
LINVILLE, NC (June 1, 2022) – Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, is welcoming guests to celebrate the beauty of spring by partaking in the Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble, a series of guided strolls that showcase the park’s blossoming rhododendron and other native species.
The rambles take place at 2 p.m. daily and are happening now until June 4. These short, guided strolls are led by the park’s naturalists and are included with the price of admission. If the rhododendron continues to bloom beyond early June, Grandfather Mountain naturalists will extend the event dates.
The daily rambles culminate on Sunday, June 5 with an all-day ramble from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that includes children’s activities and educational programming on the mountain’s rare blossoms along the Woods Walk Trail, the Black Rock Trail and around the soon-to-open Wilson Center for Nature Discovery.
Elizabeth Trott, interpretive park guide for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, will be featured as the guest speaker during the all-day ramble and says that the event gives guests a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the mountain’s diverse ecology of flora.
“The Rhododendron Rambles give guests the tools they need to identify the plants on the mountain,” Trott said. “We show them where various species are blooming, and we also showcase the beauty that exists here. We do all this while also educating guests on the ecological significance of these plants, and we highlight the differences between various species.”
The annual blooms bring out some of the most colorful hues that guests can see on the mountain. Many of the pink-purple blossoms come courtesy of the Catawba rhododendron, a species that is common across the Blue Ridge Mountains but is accentuated when viewed against Grandfather’s immense backdrop.
Catawba rhododendron flourish at higher elevations and cooler temperatures. This native species blooms from late May to mid-June based on their location within the park and are currently lining several of the park’s trails in their natural splendor.
A much rarer species, the pink-shell azalea, reached its peak bloom in May but can still be found at higher altitudes. Its cousin, the flame azalea, appears to glow in vibrant shades of yellow and orange and can be seen now blooming alongside Split and Sphinx Rocks.
The rosebay rhododendron with its light-pink flowers is the last to bloom in late June and may be in its early stages toward the lower elevations in the park during the Rhododendron Ramble. To learn more about the park’s rhododendron visit www.grandfather.com/the-remarkable-rhododendron-ramble.
Due to its dramatic elevation change, Grandfather Mountain provides viewers with a longer window of opportunity to see the beautiful rhododendron in bloom, but don’t wait too long. Once they bloom, this species’ flowers can be here one day and gone the next, especially if a heavy rain rolls over.
Fortunately, the Rhododendron Rambles take place when many of the park’s wild rhododendron are blossoming and even offer guests the opportunity to learn something unexpected.
“During these rambles, we’re always open to exploration,” Trott said. “So, we may talk about the disappearance of the American chestnut, or a cool bird or animal may appear suddenly. We focus on the rhododendron, but we also engage with whatever people are interested in.”
Grandfather Mountain is operating under its extended summer hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The past park entry is at 5:30 p.m. Guests must book their visit in advance at www.grandfather.com/tickets.
The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit www.grandfather.com.
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