We are so lucky to have the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville! Surrounded by the botanically diverse Southern Appalachian Mountains, the NC Arboretum is one of the most beautiful natural garden settings in America. The 434-acre campus in Pisgah National Forest is the ideal place for a sensory-rich stroll or hike while admiring and learning about our natural wonders. Home to many events throughout the year, it is located at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway in south Asheville. Photo above: Fall Quilt Garden
A center for education, research, conservation, and garden demonstration, the Arboretum offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Stop by the information desk at the Baker Exhibit Center to pick up a brochure listing educational programs, tours, and events. They also have some great art to admire.
See the gorgeous Life of the Monarch Butterfly sculpture in the Forest Meadow behind the amphitheater.
- Blue Ridge Court: A central point of the Grand Garden Promenade and features a garden pool.
- Heritage Garden: The chimney and stone foundations and water spring recall features of old homestead sites. The garden includes plants used in the region's medicinal herb and craft industries.
- Holly Garden: Shows a variety of plants in the holly genus that can be grown in this area.
- Plants of Promise Garden: This 1/2-acre garden at wood's edge features promising landscape plants appropriate for the Southern Appalachian region and demonstrates ways to use stone in the garden.
- Quilt Garden: A floral representation of a traditional quilt pattern, complete with a stone overlook (photo at top of page - design is butterflies).
- Stream Garden: Planted primarily with native plants, this garden represents a Western North Carolina mountain stream and the plant communities of stream sites.
- National Native Azalea Repository: Established to help preserve and protect native azaleas with 16 of 17 species native to the United States. See it in full bloom each April.
RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide is delighted to be a Community Partner of the North Carolina Arboretum!
See the impressive and fascinating bonsai collection in the special outdoor garden (usually May-October). During the cooler months, see a tropical bonsai exhibit in the greenhouse at the Baker Center.
Hiking & Biking
There are many trails to choose from, including many easy walking trails and easy to moderate mountain bike trails.
- The Natural Garden Trail is a 3/4-mile walking trail that makes a loop from the Plants of Promise Garden to the north end of the Core Area Gardens.
- Bent Creek Road and Trail is a 1.3-mile, mostly flat trail shared by pedestrians, pets on leashes, and cyclists with many Southern Appalachian wildflowers and ferns.
- The 1.2-mile Carolina Mountain Trail connects the production greenhouse with the Education Center and Core Garden areas and Bent Creek Road. This trail winds through three different forest types, pine, mixed hardwood, and ericaceous.
- For a full list of trails, see the Arboretum's Hiking page.
- There are many more trails in the surrounding Bent Creek. See our guide to Bent Creek Biking & Lake Powhatan Camping.
Bee Campus USA
The Arboretum was certified as the 7th Bee Campus in the nation and the first campus in North Carolina. Seasonal Landscape Exhibits program on plants and nesting sites for pollinator species.
Free Extra Activities April-October
- Guided Trail Walks on Tuesdays & Saturdays, 1 PM
- Rocky Cove Railroad runs on Saturdays & Sundays
Special Events & Exhibits
There are many throughout the year. See our special guide to their Spring Flower Shows and Fall Events at the Arboretum. For the holiday season, see the beautiful Winter Lights extravaganza.
- Thanks Flo: February 12 – May 8, 2022
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who planned both Central Park (his first major design) and Biltmore in Asheville (his final one), takes center stage in the Baker Visitor Center Exhibit Hall and at select locations in the landscape on the occasion of his 200th birthday.
- Arbor Evenings: June 23 – September 30, 2022
On Thursdays and Fridays, sip and stroll through the NC Arboretum gardens after dark (5:30-8 PM) with live music. Light food, beer, and wine are available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person.
- A Space Pawdyssey Halloween Dog Parade: October 30, 2022
Watch the costume parade, visit with local dog-themed vendors for the Arboretum's first annual Halloween Dog Parade in the fall gardens. 1-4 PM. Go to their website for details.
- National Geographic Photo Ark: September 24, 2022-January, 8, 2023
See this traveling exhibition in the Baker Visitor Center featuring 50 works by National Geographic photographer and Fellow Joel Sartore. Click here to visit their website.
NC Arboretum Fast Facts
- Property Hours: The gardens and trails are open daily, weather permitting, 8 AM–9 PM, April–October, 8 AM–7 PM. November–March. The entrance gate closes one hour before. The Education Center, Baker Exhibit Center, and Bonsai Garden are open daily 9 AM–5 PM. Also open Thursday evenings, April-October, 6-9 PM. Bent Creek Bistro Hours: Opening for the season April 2, 2021 at 10 AM.
- Admission: Free, but there is a parking fee. $16 per personal motor vehicle, $50 15-seat passenger van, $100 motorcoaches. Parking is $7 on the first Tuesday of each month. No charges apply for pedestrians, bicyclists or The North Carolina Arboretum Society members.
- The NC Arboretum Society Membership: In appreciation for their support, Members receive special benefits such as free parking, discounts at the gift shop and for education programs, special mailings, member events, a monthly e-newsletter and reciprocal privileges with more than 200 American Horticultural Society gardens nationwide.
- Pets: Dogs on leashes are permitted on the grounds and in the gardens (except the Bonsai exhibit). Service or guide dogs only are allowed in buildings & Bonsai exhibit.
- Picnics: Informal picnicking permitted on the grounds. No alcoholic beverages. Picnic goodies available for purchase in the education center at the cafe.
- Wheelchair Access: The buildings, gardens and some trails are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available free of charge on-site, on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Directions: The NC Arboretum is located off NC Highway 191, south of Asheville. From I-26, take exit 33; from I-40, use exit #47 (Farmers Market). From both these exits, follow Blue Ridge Parkway (and 191 South) signs to the Parkway entrance ramp. The Arboretum entrance is immediately on the right, after exiting onto the ramp. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take Milepost 393 exit. The Arboretum entrance is on the left, at the end of the ramp.
- Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville
- Telephone: 828-665-2492 | Click here to visit their website.
NC Arboretum Weddings, Asheville
Get married at one of the nation’s most beautiful public gardens. The NC Arboretum’s Green Wedding options include elegantly designed landscapes, sculptures, mountain views and charming indoor… read more
Annual Membership, NC Arboretum
Receive many wonderful benefits and save with an annual membership to the North Carolina Arboretum Society. Attend special events and educational programs and receive benefits such as free parking… read more
Featured NC Arboretum Events
Asheville Orchid Festival
The Western NC Orchid Society hosts a big show and competition at the North Carolina Arboretum. Hundreds of orchids will be on display and vendors will be selling them with plenty of advice.
Exhibition at the North Carolina Arboretum by Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society with award-winning roses of every color and size. Experts on hand to answer questions and provide information about… read more
Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
Returning to the gardens this year, the popular show will return to the traditional outdoor walk-through open-air format with glowing landscapes and plenty of new displays. The show will include… read more