Highlands Biological Station buildings remain closed to visitors with the exception of limited visitor hours for the Nature Center.  HBS Botanical Garden trails remain open, and in accordance with University policy masks and physical distancing are required on the HBS campus.  Highlands Biological Station currently plans to offer academic and public programming in summer 2021, observing University mandated Covid-19 safety protocols.  For the safety of the HBS summer community, before being permitted to work or study at HBS prospective summer students, teaching faculty, and researchers must provide documentation of (1) having received a Covid-19 vaccine or (2) a negative Covid-19 test taken within 3 days of planned arrival.  Please see the HBS website for full summer 2021 Covid-19 safety policies and procedures, and bear in mind that University policy and HBS program plans are subject to change in light of developments with the pandemic this spring. 

Guided Tours

Join our horticulturist to explore the botanical gardens and other display areas throughout the Highlands Biological Station campus. Botanical tours are available seasonally, beginning in May, and can range from a variety of topics.


COVID-19: In accordance with Western Carolina University policy, and for the safety of both our guests and staff, masks will be required during all in-person tours.



Home Landscapes

Thinking about adding native plants to your home landscape? This tour will guide you through our homeowners demonstration garden and botanical garden to provide inspiration for your next planting project. Soil amending, site preparation and other helpful maintenance topics are also discussed.

Carnivores of the Bog Garden

Learn the eating habits and trapping methods of southern Appalachian carnivorous plants. Children and adults alike will have the opportunity to view these insect eating plants up close and learn about their importance.

Wicked Plants

Explore which plants are toxic and what parts of the plant can harm you, then round out your knowledge with the history and folklore behind these plants.

Five Senses in the Garden

We all know that a garden can be pleasing to the eye, but what about our other senses?  Explore the garden using the full gamut of your sensory receptors. How can you incorporate texture, scent and the sounds of rustling leaves into your garden and experience the natural world in a new, expansive way.

Interpretive guided tours for private groups are also available throughout the year and can be arranged by appointment. They are free of charge, but donations are always appreciated. Talks on various botanical topics are also available to local garden clubs and other adult organizations.

To schedule either a tour or a talk, contact our Horticulturist at 828.526.0188 or the Nature Center at 828.526.2623