Photo by Melinda Massey, courtesy of the NC Arboretum.
Activities & Interests
The North Carolina Arboretum
A Gem of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina Mountains
The North Carolina Arboretum, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the finest public gardens in the Southern Appalachians. Arboretum exhibits emphasize connections between local culture and the landscape and its gentle trails are popular for woodland walks.
Hiking Trails and Mountain Bike Trails at the Arboretum
While helping design the grounds at Biltmore Estate, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned a public garden for Asheville. Today, the 434-acre Arboretum, located within the Pisgah National Forest, fulfills that dream. Nine trails wind through the Arboretum, some restricted to foot traffic while others can be used for both hiking and cycling. Most trails are easy to moderate.
Learn About the Magic of Plants and Animals in the Blue Ridge Mountains
The North Carolina Arboretum is a center for education, research, conservation, and garden demonstration. Throughout the year, the Arboretum offers a variety of educational programs, including seminars, exhibits, nature walks, and activities for children and families that want to learn about the plants, animals, crafts and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Bonsai Exhibition Garden - Japanese Art Inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains
Of special interest to many visitors is the Arboretum's Bonsai Exhibition Garden, where more than 100 quality specimens are on display. The North Carolina Arboretum collection includes not only traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm, but also plants native to the North Carolina mountains, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine.
Find Unique Opportunities at the North Carolina Arboretum -A Gift Shop, the Cafe and More!
The Arboretum's Education Center houses a snack bar and art exhibit. The Baker Exhibit Center houses a traveling exhibit, exhibit greenhouse, and gift shop.
NC Arboretum Hours of Operation
Baker Exhibit Center and Education Center:
9 am - 5 pm (Monday - Saturday)
12 pm - 5 pm (Sunday)
The café and gift shop are closed on Mondays.
8 am - 9 pm (April - October)
8 am - 7 pm (November - March)
Production Greenhouse Hours:
8 am - 2 pm (Monday - Friday)
Though the grounds are open on State holidays, most buildings are closed. See NC Arboretum website for details.
NC Arboretum Admission Fees
The Arboretum charges a parking fee at the entrance gate.
$14 per personal motor vehicle
$50 for 15 passenger vans
$100 for buses/motorcoaches
Parking is half off, $7 for all visitors on the first Tuesday of each month.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway, exit at milepost 393, following the signs for NC Arboretum, Hwy. 191 and Interstate 26. On the exit ramp, the entrance to the Arboretum is on the left (before Hwy. 191).
From I-40, take I-26 East. Take Exit 33 (marked Blue Ridge Parkway-Brevard Road-Hwy 191). Turn left (South) onto Hwy. 191. Travel South on Hwy 191 for approximately 2.1 miles (pass Biltmore Square Mall). Look for brown signs for Blue Ridge Parkway and NC Arboretum. Take right turn at light. The main entrance is ahead on right.
The North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
Asheville, NC 28806-9315
(828) 665-2492 ext. 200
Beyond the North Carolina Arboretum
In addition to the hiking, biking and educational opportunities found at the North Carolina Arboretum, there are a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities to explore in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Learn more about hiking trails, farmers markets, historical sites in North Carolina, Cherokee History and much more on the Blue Ridge Heritage Area website.
- Southern Appalachian Radio Museum (6 miles)
The Southern Appalachian Radio Museum in Asheville, NC traces the history of radio from the early days through the 1960s.
- Biltmore Estate (6 miles)
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC remains America's largest privately owned home and one of the state's most enduring attractions.
- The History Center at the Smith-McDowell House (6 miles)
The restored Smith-McDowell House is the oldest surviving house in Asheville and a superb example of brick antebellum architecture.