Painting with a Bear at Grandfather Mountain | State and Region

According to staff reports

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the non-profit organization that manages Grandfather Mountain Nature Park in Linville, offers visitors a new opportunity to connect with nature by painting with the park’s beloved black bears.

New this year, visitors can go behind the scenes at black bear habitats and watch one of the park’s resident black bears create a one-of-a-kind painting for attendees to take home. This unique experience not only offers visitors the chance to create lasting memories on the mountain, but also provides valuable enrichment time for the park’s bears.

Painting is a fun way to bond with one of our animals and has been a successful way to train bears over the years,” said Deborah Anderson, Habitats Assistant Curator. “As our animals showed more interest in these painting sessions, we decided to offer them as an experience for our guests.”

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During this experience, participants will be able to see firsthand how habitat keepers interact with mountain bears, as well as learn more about the individual animal.

Guests will choose paint colors for one of the artistic bears to work with. Guests then watch from a safe distance behind a fence as the guards place the painting in the enclosure, and the bear continues to walk through the painting and place its paws on the canvas. The guests then choose the painting they wish to take with them. The paint bears use is non-toxic and harmless if they ingest it.

“The bear who loves painting the most is Flower, but Smokey also really enjoys the painting session,” Anderson said. “The bears get lots of treats, from honey to raisins and even apples, syrup or jelly, whatever we think they might want in order to appeal to their artistic side.”

This unique experience is available on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and is offered until October. Cost is $50 per person plus park admission, including children (and $42 for Bridge Club members). There is a minimum of two people and a maximum of four people for this intimate 30-minute experience.

“We love being able to share this experience with our guests,” Anderson said. “We love these animals and think it’s exciting to watch them paint, so we’re sure guests will share our enthusiasm.”

Reservations for the Paint With a Bear experience can be made by calling the Grandfather Mountain Habitats office at 828-733-8715 or emailing them at [email protected] Although same-day tickets are occasionally available at the gift shop at the new Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, it is recommended that you reserve your spot at least 24 hours in advance.

Animal artwork is always on sale at the Wilson Center. Prints and bookmarks made by the mountain’s resident bears, cougars, otters, snakes and possums make great Grandfather Mountain gifts or keepsakes.

For more information about Paint With a Bear, visit

For more information on other unique and exciting experiences at Grandfather Mountain, visit

The non-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and appreciate the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit

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