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“Close Encounters”

Western North Carolina Nature Center
Ranked #18 of 155 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 230 facilities in the United States have met the high accreditation standards set by AZA
Reviewed August 21, 2018 via mobile

We took her three grandchildren to the Nature Center and enjoyed it a lot. The habitats are very natural and I think there is a great variety of native animal species. We particularly enjoyed seeing the wolves and the Bears. Watching the Otters feeding was also lots of fun. Our grandkids had a great time and they want to come back to see the red pandas.

2  Thank guv11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"petting zoo"
in 67 reviews
"native animals"
in 20 reviews
"otter feeding"
in 15 reviews
"animals seem"
in 9 reviews
"great place to take the kids"
in 8 reviews
"kids and adults"
in 8 reviews
"whole family"
in 17 reviews
"north carolina"
in 22 reviews
"few hours"
in 22 reviews
"all ages"
in 22 reviews
"the barn"
in 10 reviews
"couple hours"
in 8 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 11 reviews
"on display"
in 9 reviews
"bears"
in 99 reviews
"enclosures"
in 59 reviews
"wnc"
in 63 reviews
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11 - 15 of 699 reviews

Reviewed August 19, 2018 via mobile

Quaint, family-friendly and thoughtfully-designed, the WNC Nature Center is a lovely place to visit for an hour or two or longer if you are with the littles. There are many places set aside for adult rest alongside children’s play areas, including many “builder/maker” spaces that encourage creativity of young minds and bodies.

In fact, children can “check out” various backpacks of activities to do along the journey through the center. Budding veterinarian? Insect-loving child? The Center had thoughtfully curated items into unique backpacks to enhance the journey.

The animals are all clearly well cared for and healthy! We enjoyed our visit tremendously and wish we lived closer.

Thank kris327
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 15, 2018

It's a relatively small when you think 'zoo' but big enough to spend a couple hours. The guide map made it easy to follow the trails. There were places to sit down along the way, which were appreciated, while a couple of our party of five ventured out on the Trillium Nature Trail. On a hot day I'd recommend carrying a water bottle as the only place to purchase a beverage is near the entrance/exit.

Despite the heat we were able to view all the animals though some of them were inactive and/or sleeping. Overall it was an enjoyable visit and gave us insight into local wildlife. For five adults two hours or so was enough time. With children I'd allow more time.

Parking was not easy.
The trails are very walkable but include inclines.

Thank K S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2018 via mobile

My family and I love coming to this place when we visit Asheville. Not only are the exhibits wonderful so that you can actually see the animals but staff is very knowledgeable about the exhibits. My grandson enjoys the playgrounds sprinkled throughout as well. With a young child plan about an hour and a half.

Thank motherthetesa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 6, 2018 via mobile

We had an off day with rain during our trip to Asheville and found this hidden gem. The place is very clean and well maintained. The animals were all healthy and active, and indigenous to the region which I found refreshing.

This is a fun little zoo that kids, and adults too!, will enjoy. Be sure to see the otter feedings at 1:30

Thank davidtQ3977SW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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