In accordance with Western Carolina University’s policies in response to COVID-19, the Highlands Biological Station is currently closed to the public, but is open to researchers and faculty on a limited basis. Researchers and faculty interested in reserving research and residential space should contact the HBS office (828-526-2602) for information on availability, rates, and reservations. Field courses, workshops, and HBS Nature Center programming are cancelled for the 2020 season. The HBS Botanical Gardens remain open, except for trails that are closed due to construction.

Highlands Nature Center

Hours of Operation

Daily hours: Closed due to COVID-19


930 Horse Cove Road
Highlands, NC 28741




Free thanks to the support of the Highlands Biological Foundation.  Donations are accepted.


Looking for a place to picnic after you visit the Nature Center?  Check out these spots on our campus!



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.

Summer Camps

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.

Knee High Naturalists (Winter-Spring 2020)

Let’s go outside and explore!

Families with young children (suggested age 3-5 years) are invited to join us to combine stories, walks, and activities for their little ones.
Each week we will have a different seasonal topic.
Be prepared to go outside rain or shine!

Fridays, 10 am – 11 am
Free, children of all abilities welcome.
No registration necessary, and you are not required to come to every session. Come to as many or as few as you would like!
Adults must attend with their children.

To participate, come to the Highlands Nature Center, 980 Horse Cove Road during the dates and times listed.

For more information, please call (828) 526-2623.
The Highlands Nature Center is part of the Highlands Biological Station, a multi-campus center of WCU.

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.