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Originally published: 2014-03-24 09:27:38
Last modified: 2014-03-24 09:28:23

Grandfather Mountain 'Dollar Days,' special programs return in April

Grandfather Mountain opens its gates to High Country residents, employees and their guests for only $3 each throughout April as part of "Dollar Days." 

April also marks the return of animal enrichment sessions and discounted behind-the-scenes habitat tours, along with naturalist programs later in the month. 

"Dollar Days is our way of welcoming the local community that has weathered this snowy winter alongside us," said Penn Dameron, executive director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. "It's a great opportunity to visit this natural gem that's available in our own backyards." 

The Dollar Days promotion allows anyone who works or lives in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga or Wilkes counties -- along with their guests traveling in the same vehicle -- to visit at the discounted rate. 

Students attending a local college or university also are eligible for the discount. 

To take advantage of the reduced rate, visitors must present a driver's license, college ID or local utility bill as proof of High Country residency. An employee identification badge or pay stub can be used to demonstrate employment at a High Country business. 

Grandfather Mountain offers extended spring hours starting March 29. The attraction will be open daily, weather permitting, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ticket sales end at 5 p.m., one hour before the park closes. 



Animal enrichments begin 

April is an excellent time to visit Grandfather Mountain, as the mountain's flora and fauna become energized with the initial signs of warmer weather, according to Dameron. 

Starting April 1, the habitat staff will begin animal enrichments eight times daily. 

The enrichments -- which could include special treats, new toys or unfamiliar scents -- break up the animals' routines and help keep them active and intellectually stimulated. They also provide visitors an opportunity to see each animal active and close to the habitat overlook. 

Visit http://grandfather.com/plan-your-visit/events/daily-events/ or check the sign at the habitat entrance to view daily enrichment times. 



Behind-the-scenes tours 

Visitors who just can't get enough of the habitat animals also can enjoy behind-the-scenes habitat tours for $20 (plus tax) in April, a discount from the usual $30 rate. The 90-minute tours allow the public to see where the animals sleep, learn why they're here and what it takes to care for the animals and observe a training session.
 Tours occur at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Saturday and at 1 p.m. each Sunday, with extra opportunities during holiday weekends. 

The mountain also offers more intensive Keeper for a Day programs, which allow visitors 12 and older a chance to shadow the habitat staff as they perform their daily work. Learn how to interact with the animals, clean their habitats, prepare food and provide enrichments while observing the habitats' inner workings. 

For more information or to reserve a spot, call (828) 733-8715 or email /habitats@grandfather.com/. Any remaining behind-the-scenes tour spaces may be reserved the day of the tour at the Nature Museum Gift Shop. 



Naturalist programs 

Grandfather Mountain guests can enrich their visit in yet another way starting April 19 with naturalist programs. 

Staff naturalists offer educational programs, including owl encounters, guided walks, birding expeditions and weather programs, including some designed specifically for children. All programs are included in the price of admission and do not require registration. 

http://grandfather.com/plan-your-visit/events/daily-events/ for specific information about the daily naturalist programs. 

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest and participate in educational research activities. 

For more information, call (800) 468-7325 or plan a trip at http://www.grandfather.com.