See below for all of our upcoming events & programs!

To be notified of new programs, events, & other special offerings,

sign up for HBF’s e-newsletter HERE.


Highlands Nature Center is Open for Summer Hours!

Open Monday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM

Closed Sunday

FREE admission

Calling all nature lovers! Plan your visit to the Highlands Nature Center to meet live animals, explore our natural history exhibits, and stroll through the adjacent Highlands Botanical Garden. There’s something for all ages and interests.

Daily Programs Begin Monday, June 3!

FREE  |  All ages welcome  |  No registration required


Free Botanical Garden Tours

Wednesdays (June 5 – August 7)  |  12 – 1 PM

FREE; no registration necessary

Meet at Highlands Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Rd)


NatureTime StoryTime!

Mondays  |  10:30 AM

FREE  | Geared toward elementary aged children  |  No registration necessary

At Highlands Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Rd)

Featuring local storyteller Ms. KK on July 1, July 15, July 29, & August 5!


Amazing Moths

Tuesday, July 23  |  8:30 – 9:30 PM

FREE  |  All ages welcome  |  Registration required HERE  (reg. opens 2 weeks prior to program date)

To celebrate International Moth Week we’ll put up some moth lights to meet and learn more about the amazing moths who live here.

Please bring a flashlight for this adventure.  Weather dependent.


Zahner Lecture 6: Climate-informed Forestry in the Southern Appalachians

Featured Speaker: Adam Warwick, Southern Blue Ridge Stewardship Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Thursday, July 25  |  6 – 7 PM

FREE  |  No registration required  |  At Highlands Nature Center

Sponsored by Martha & Michael Dupuis, Monte & Palmer Gaillard, and Melanie & Tom Mauldin.

In this talk, Adam Warwick will share his experience managing forests to be resilient to a changing climate within our region. The presentation will cover the ecological history of the southern Appalachians and how it has shaped the forests we see today. He will discuss what The Nature Conservancy is doing to ensure the health of our region’s exceptional biodiversity into the future.


What Bat is That?

Tuesday, July 30 |  8:15 – 9:15 PM

FREE  |  All ages welcome  |  Registration FULL

Stretch your wings and tune into the sounds of the many special bats of the Highlands area! Join our Naturalists on a walk through the Botanical Garden to watch them in flight.

Please bring a flashlight for this adventure.  Weather dependent.


Zahner Lecture 7: The Surface Water and Ocean Topography Mission: NASA’s New Eye in the Sky for Earth’s Water

Featured Speaker: Dr. Tamlin Pavelsky; Professor of Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences; University of North Carolina

Thursday, August 1  |  6 – 7 PM

FREE  |  No registration required  |  At Highlands Nature Center

Sponsored by Kim & Rich Daugherty and Kathy & Bestor Ward.

After almost two decades of development, NASA launched the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission in December 2022. SWOT is designed to provide the most complete measurements ever of Earth’s surface water, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. It uses radar technology to track detailed variations in water levels that can help us understand water storage in millions of lakes, the flow of water through rivers, and ocean currents. In this talk, we will explore this exciting new mission and get a first look at some of the data and results that are beginning to come out from it.


Hunters in the Sky

Tuesday, August 6 |  6:30 – 7:30 PM

FREE  |  All ages welcome  |  Registration required HERE  (reg. opens 2 weeks prior to program date)

Birds of Prey are fascinating, but are sometimes misperceived due to their predatory instincts. Meet some live raptors and learn about their day to day struggle to survive in our constantly changing world.

This program features Carlton Burke of Carolina Mountain Naturalists.

Weather dependent.


Zahner Lecture 8: Roaming the Wilds: Exploring NC Mammals Shore to Summit

Featured Speaker: Dr. Aimee Rockhill, Associate Professor, Western Carolina University

Thursday, August 8  |  6 – 7 PM

FREE  |  No registration required  |  At Highlands Nature Center

Sponsored by Mary Todd & Jimmy Davis and Miriam & Vernon Skiles.

Mammals, those charismatic warm and fuzzies that roam our planet, play a crucial role in both conservation and management efforts. Herbivores help shape plant communities through browsing and grazing, and carnivores maintain ecological balance by maintaining prey populations. Likewise, most mammals aid in forest regeneration by facilitating seed dispersal, aerating our soils, and returning nutrients to the landscape. North Carolina is home to an estimated 126 mammal species; 79 of which roam the terrestrial landscape. In this presentation, Dr. Aimee Rockhill will delve into her research journey that spans the state of North Carolina, from the coast to the mountains. She’ll cover the basics of how researchers survey and monitor mammals, share some of her research discoveries, and discuss areas where additional inquiry is needed. Further, she will outline avenues for your involvement in supporting the dedicated mammologists across the state to enhance our understanding and fortify conservation efforts aimed at safeguarding these remarkable species.


Zahner Lecture 9: All About Hellbenders!

Featured Speaker: Lori Williams, Wildlife Diversity Biologist, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Thursday, August 15  |  6 – 7 PM

FREE  |  No registration required  |  At Highlands Nature Center

Sponsored by Karen Patterson.

In this talk, Lori Williams will introduce the audience to one of our most unique Appalachian treasures, the Eastern Hellbender. Topics discussed will include Hellbender life history, ecology, habitat use, threats, and conservation efforts we and our project partners are doing in North Carolina to save the species. She will wrap up the talk by showing some cool underwater video clips of these fascinating creatures and introducing the audience to NCWRC’s resident species ambassador, Rocky the Hellbender!


Please note that this page does not list our summer courses or workshops. You can view them in our “Calendar” or on the “Courses and Workshops” page.