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“Small but valuable”

Western North Carolina Nature Center
Ranked #13 of 191 things to do in Asheville
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center - home to over 60 species of animals including river otters, black bear, red wolves and cougars. The Western North Carolina Nature Center connects people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation of the region's rich biodiversity. The Nature Center is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. Less than 220 facilities in the United States have met the high accreditation standards set by AZA
Asheville, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
49 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Small but valuable”
Reviewed June 1, 2014

This little nature center is packed with information about our surroundings. As a recent import, I was intrigued to see what would be in the yard, around the neighborhood, and on the hiking trails. My son is out of high school, but was entranced by the exhibits.

Visited July 2013
2 Thank fibersong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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597 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Charlotte, North Carolina
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Terrible! Feel sorry for the animals there!”
Reviewed May 31, 2014

No staff seen in park except at check-in, animal cages overgrown and did not look taken care of, walkways dirty and covered with debris making it hard to drive stroller, unfriendly volunteer at farm petting zoo, very few animals and most looked decrepid. This is poor excuse for a zoo and should not even be open. We feel sorry for the animals there.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank Kohn45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Asheville, North Carolina
Level 6 Contributor
93 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“A must for families with younger children”
Reviewed May 31, 2014 via mobile

I have visited the nature center countless times since I was a child and it has most definitely gotten better with time. Smaller on the zoo scale but packed with extras along the way. All the animals habitats are of good size and nicely kept. The whole stroll through the center is nicely shaded. And there are several pit stops between exhibits like my kids favorite the otter slide. Also a spider web climbing tower, a puppet theater, build a fort station and a all natural wood blocks building area. There is a petting area and all over they have snuck in education tidbit that just feel like fun for the kids. We packed our lunch and had a picnic on one of the tables. My kids are 2 and 6 and we spent @4 hours with eating and letting them play at every stop. I think this is still worth a visit with older kids or just a couple or solo there is a off the paved path short hike and the whole center feels like it's set in a forest, very relaxing and refreshing. And it supports a great mission of reusing and rehabilitating our mountains native animals.

2 Thank Jdehart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Berwick, Maine
Level 6 Contributor
95 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“So Much Fun For Kids”
Reviewed May 24, 2014

We took our granddaughters here. They live in the area and have been here many times but always enjoy seeing the animals again. We love that all the animals are native to North Carolina. We liked the cougars the best. They came right over to the glass and looked right at us and sit in front of us! There is a new spider park that is like a jungle gym for kids and kids can climb all over the nylon webs! They loved this part! We would definitely go there again. A fun place and very educational!!

Visited May 2014
1 Thank myajenna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“A joy for the whole family”
Reviewed May 18, 2014

I visited the Nature Center with my wife and toddler daughter in mid-May. I chose this particular activity because I wanted to be able to enjoy some nature with my family without subjecting them to miles of trails in the back-country. This was definitely a great choice, especially with a child.

The weather was cool and slightly overcast, which was excellent for being able to see the majority of the larger animals who likely would have sought shade if it was warmer. We were able to see every animal in the park except for the bobcats. Due to the curvy nature of the paths around the exhibits, sometimes you had a better view of the animals from the back of their habitats. In particular we got a very close view of the grey wolf sleeping along the back fence line. This was great and probably afforded a better view than viewing from the front.

The park mostly focuses on Animals native to the Eastern United States and especially North Carolina. However, I don't look at it as a negative because it kept the park small and manageable for a day trip with a toddler. Additionally, even though most of the animals are native to the countryside around Asheville, many tourists and locals alike wouldn't normally get to see them regularly.

The petting zoo was also a treat for our daughter. The animals were docile and didn't seem bothered by being petted. There were varieties of sheep, goats, and donkeys in the petting area.

The park also features several children's recreation areas inside it. My daughter enjoyed the slide near the otters, but was too small for the cargo net area made to resemble a spiders web. Kids can stay engaged while parents will enjoy the animals too. This is a great family trip and the price is reasonable. Kids under two get in for free.

The only downside of the park is that there is no fast or made to order food available for purchase. There are some vending machines, but nothing I would eat or feed my child for a meal. I would recommend bringing a picnic lunch and enjoying it at some of the picnic tables within the park.

Visited May 2014
Thank X61624
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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