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.

Where to hang out on campus?

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


Our amphitheater is a large, open space located just behind the Nature Center.  It consists of five grassy terraces lined with stone, perfect for sitting after a nice hike or gathering groups together in a natural area.  It also features a stage area with butterfly and salamander photo stand-ins for a great photo opportunity.


Our pavilion, made possible through the generous support of Mountain Findings, is located just passed our amphitheater along the edge of the meadow.  It provides a nice refuge from the sun and rain, and it features several picnic tables that can easily be transitioned into benches depending on your need. 


Our meadow is a large, open area surrounded by our Cherokee, Native Grass, and Phenology Gardens. It is also available for gatherings.  Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic while observing native birds and pollinators visiting the area and then gather everyone to play a game of Cornhole.

Picnic Tables

HBS also has picnic tables located just outside of the Nature Center back door and several benches scattered throughout the campus including by the entrance to the Botanical Garden and by the lake that are available for use.