Highlands Nature Center was founded as the museum of the Highlands Biological Station in 1927, and was originally housed as an annex to the Hudson Library. Its present home, the Clark Foreman Museum building, was constructed between 1939 and 1941 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) using native granite from the local quarry and wormy chestnut salvaged from the Nantahala National Forest. Following a renovation in 2001, the Nature Center now offers exhibits and year-round educational programming focusing on the biodiversity of the southern Appalachian region. Programming includes pre-K-12 outreach, special events and daily activities during the summer that are open to the general public, as well as summer nature camps for ages 4 to 14. Younger campers explore the outdoors and learn about plants and animals through a variety of activities and games. Older campers conduct scientific research, develop team-building skills, and observe nature on adventure field trips into the Nantahala National Forest.    

Highlands Nature Center is a member of NC Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative.

 current hours of operation:

Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm

Closed Sundays and Mondays
 Open Monday, August 21 10-4 for Eclipse
Open Monday, September 4th for Labor Day

address and phone number:

930 Horse Cove Road / PO Box 580, Highlands, NC 28741

(828) 526-2623 

Below you will find the schedule for our daily programming and special events.  For information about school outreach programming and special events, please visit the link below in the “links” section.

 2017 Special Events

Sunday, August 20th and Monday, August 21st Eclipse Festivities

Come celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime Total Solar Eclipse with Highlands Nature Center!

Sunday, August 20th, Highlands Nature Center will be open from 12pm to 4pm to prepare for the eclipse. View our unique meteorite collection; make cereal box eclipse viewers; contribute to an eclipse time capsule; and join us for fantastic tales with storyteller Dave Novak in our amphitheater at 1:30pm.

Then, on Monday, August 21st— the day of the Total Solar Eclipse!— Highlands Nature Center will be open from 10am to 4pm. Stop by and view simulcast videos of the eclipse as it makes its way across North American towards Highlands! Snag a snack and drink on your way to your chosen viewing spot!

September 23  GO: Get Outside!

11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. | All Ages | Cost: FREE

Come out to Highlands Biological Station to kick off Take a Child Outside Week. The Nature Center will be open and offering nature-based activities and programs throughout the day. This is the perfect opportunity to get the whole family out and exploring in the wild!

October 26  Halloween Enchanted Forest

6:00-7:30 p.m. | All Ages | Cost: $1.00/person

Celebrate Halloween the natural way! Guided tours of our Botanical Gardens will lead you trick-or-treating around the trail to meet some native animal characters. Beware the forest in the last half hour as it will turn from enchanted to haunted and the animals will definitely be more “trick” than “treat”. Activities will be available in the nature center as well during this time.


What to do if you find an orphaned animal

school outreach 


summer camps

biodiversity in the southern Appalachians

nature notes

species lists:  mammals     |     amphibians     |     reptiles     |     birds