Special event offers rare after-dark tour of Grandfather Mountain

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You may be familiar with Grandfather Mountain's resident animals like the black bear, bald eagle, cougar and river otter, but what do they do after dark?

Find out Saturday, Sept. 30, at Grandfather Mountain's annual Creatures of the Night and Bonfire Delight, a nighttime event that features spookily fun stories told by firelight and rare after-dark tours.

From 6 – 9:30 p.m., folks of all ages can enjoy hot chocolate and warm apple cider by the glow of a bonfire. The event is BYOS (Bring Your Own S'mores), but the mountain will provide marshmallow roasting sticks, cider, hot chocolate and seating.

Grandfather staff members will also lead a nocturnal trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) and the environmental wildlife habitats.

"It's a whole different way to experience the animals," said Jenny Condron, habitat keeper at Grandfather Mountain. "When you see them in the daytime, it's all just a visual experience. But at night, you hear their unique noises and rustling around way before you actually see them, and it can be quite exciting and eerie."

S. Sickler, GFM Stewardship Foundation

An "Owl Prowl" will take participants on a search for the mountain's feathered denizens of the night, during which guides will attempt to communicate with the birds through recorded owl calls. As it turns out, the owls really do give a hoot.

"On our last Owl Prowl, the barred owls were very, very responsive, talking back a lot," chief habitats curator Christie Tipton said. "By the time we take the last tour, it's pitch black, and you can't see anything. Although the owls can see you."

In addition, some of Grandfather's educational animals, such as Herbie the Screech Owl, will make an appearance.

The cost to attend is $20 per person, and participants must be at least 8 years old to attend. Space is limited, so advance registration is required. Click here to register.

If you are going, you’ll want to dress warmly and bring blankets, flashlights and s'mores ingredients to enjoy around the fire.

For more information, call (828) 733-8715, or email habitats@grandfather.com.

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