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Both Kids and Adults Will Have Fun At The WNC Nature Center

The WNC Nature Center is a great place for kids and adults to learn about the wild animals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians that live in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

River Otter at WNC Nature Center

The range and variety of animals on display here is impressive. Visitors can see predators like wolves and cougars, gentle mountain dwellers such as white tailed deer and the playful river otter, as well as smaller and sometimes less celebrated inhabitants like the bull frog and flying squirrel. Here too is a farmyard, where children with adults can mingle with and pet familiar mountain farm animals such as mild-mannered goats and sheep.

Situated on 42 forested acres on a hillside in east Asheville, the Nature Center offers an excellent variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Outdoors, visitors can follow the broad shady path to see the large animals and birds of prey in their spacious enclosures. Here too are gardens, the Trillium Glen Nature Trail and the popular farmyard.

Black Bear at WNC Nature Center in Asheville NC All of the native animals displayed at the Western North Carolina Nature Center were either injured, and are now unable to live in the wild, or have had so much interaction with humans that they cannot be returned to the wild. Larger animals , including fox, bobcat and black bear are housed in spacious outdoor natural habitat enclosures complete with native trees and plants that are spread out across the rolling wooded grounds of the WNC Nature Center.

The outdoor River Otter exhibit is a favorite, as the otters are a non-stop bundle of energy and often seem to enjoy watching people as much as we enjoy watching them. They run and play on their rocky island, watch visitors from a rock perch and then dive and swim in the river-like water. Kids especially enjoy looking through a window to see underwater and watch as an otter swims and plays beneath the waters surface.

Red Wolf at WNC Nature Center in AshevilleThe nature center is one of just 28 facilities in the United States participating in the red wolf captive breeding and re-introduction program. True Story: One sunny afternoon as we were driving through Pisgah National Forest we watched a large animal dash out of the forest and across the road ahead of us before disappearing into the woods. It could have been a large dog, but it wasn't - we recognized it as a very rare Red Wolf. How did we know that it was a red wolf? Only because we had already seen a red wolf at the WNC Nature Center, and learned there that red wolves are being reintroduced into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Kids love the petting Zoo at WNC Nature Center in Asheville If you have younger children with you, be sure to leave time to enjoy the Educational Farm and petting yard. Here children, accompanied by a parent, can enter the sheep and goat enclosure to pet these gentle animals and discover how different a long haired angora goat feels than a wooly sheep. The nearby barn holds more farm animals, including cute rabbits, and in spring there are always baby animals to admire.

Indoors there are interactive exhibits, special programs and hands-on experiences with native plants and animals. One of the goals of the WNC Nature Center is to increase understanding and appreciation of nature, and many of the interactive exhibits here further that objective in fun and entertaining ways. In the Nature Lab, children can touch some of the native animals, such as the gentle corn snake or a turtle.

Red Wolves at WNC Nature Center in Asheville North Carolina Nocturnal Hall is especially popular. Here day and night have been reversed so that visitors can see native animals that are normally active only at night. Here you will find animals and birds, such as a white striped skunk, green heron, opossum and a screech owl with tufted ears and glowing eyes.

Summertime is butterfly season at the WNC Nature Center. Over a hundred varieties of butterflies can be seen in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Every July and August, the Beauty of Butterflies exhibit presents a flying rainbow of butterflies. You can watch as Silver-spotted Skippers, Painted Ladies, Summer Azures and the bright yellow and black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail fly and then delicately land on native plants and flowers.

Before you leave, stop in the Possum Pouch Gift Shop to peruse the nature themed books, games, stuffed animals and gift items. But unless you brought along a picnic lunch to enjoy beneath a shady tree, you'll have to leave the WNC Nature Center to find lunch.

WNC Nature Center Visitor Information

Bobcat watches visitors at WNC Nature Center

To get to the WNC Nature Center, take exit 53B off of I-40 or exit 8 from I-240 and watch for signs to the WNC Nature Center.

The Nature Center is open daily, except it is closed on Wednesday from mid-December through February, and closed for two days at Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as New Years Day and Martin Luther King Day the third Monday in January.

There is a charge to visit the WNC Nature Center, $7 for adults and $3 for children 3 - 15 years.

When you are ready to eat a good restaurant nearby is Pomodoro's, a family style Italian restaurant with excellent home style cooking. To get there return to Swannanoa River Road, turn right. When the road T intersects with Hwy 70 Tunnel Road, Pomadoro's is directly across the street.

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