Hours of Operation
OPEN for spring hours!
Spring Hours (April 1 – May 28):
Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Sunday – Thursday
Summer Hours (May 29 – August 13):
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Open for the following holidays:
Memorial Day Weekend: Sunday, May 29, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
July 4th Weekend: Sunday, July 3, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Hours subject to change, please check back here for the latest updates.
Plan your visit:
See our upcoming programs & events HERE.
930 Horse Cove Road
Highlands, NC 28741
Free! Your admission is supported by the Highlands Biological Foundation, the State of North Carolina, & Western Carolina University. Donations are accepted.
Learn about our summer camp offerings HERE.
See upcoming events HERE.
Check back later for more 2022 programs!
Thank You for Your Understanding
We know these are difficult times and we greatly appreciate your patience, understanding, and flexibility. Please note that the situation is fluid and we will continuously provide updates as they become available through our e-communications, website, and social media.
Please stay tuned for further updates regarding our events.
Visiting Requirements and Guidelines
The Governor’s Executive Orders are the bare minimum expectations and WCU’s Community Standards go above and beyond the Governor’s Orders to keep you and others safe.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents an ever-shifting situation, and the university will be responsive to the latest guidance and information issued by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We support social distancing and encourage face coverings when visitors are unable to spread 6ft apart.
Hand Washing and Sanitization
The Highlands Nature Center provides hand sanitizing stations throughout our building.
The Highlands Nature Center has removed all hands-on materials and exhibits to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
Reduced Capacity Limits
The Highlands Nature Center has reduced the number of visitors to 12 at a time.
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting
The Highlands Nature Center has increased the level of cleaning and disinfecting happening in our spaces on a daily basis.
Restrooms are open to visitors and will be cleaned daily.
Feeling Sick? Stay Home
Please do not visit the Highlands Nature Center if you are experiencing any symptoms. Before visiting campus, check for symptoms on a daily basis using the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker. Call your health care provider to seek further medical guidance.
Practice Self-Care and Show Respect and Caring to All
- Sustain our community standards and help create a sense of belonging where everyone feels welcomed and respected.
- Practice good self-care principles and care for your physical and mental health.
- Stay connected with your family and friend groups and participate in small group activities and virtual opportunities.
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.
Explore our featured exhibits, special events and year-round school education programming that focuses on the spectacular biodiversity of the southern Appalachian region. If you have questions about hours, events, or other topics, please contact the Nature Center at 828.526.2623.
If you would like to schedule a school or group program, please contact Outreach at 828.526.4123.
We also offer summer nature camps for ages 4 to 13. 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.
K-12 School Outreach
Highlands Nature Center provides more than 50 different day programs for public, private, or homeschool groups in grades K-12. Classes are designed to meet the curriculum requirements of the North Carolina science Essential Standards for each grade level, and supplement existing lessons by bringing additional resources to the classroom.