North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville NC

North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville

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.

2020 Updates & Events

  • July 1-November 1, 2020: National LEGO® Exhibit Returns - See Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks by Sean Kenney with 14 larger-than-life sculptures created with nearly 500,000 LEGO Bricks. Read more.
  • July-September: ArborEvenings - Visit the gardens after hours Thursday-Saturday, July-September, 8-11 PM. Sip and stroll through the gardens (beer, wine & light food for sale). Live music. Seasonally themed lights will illuminate the gardens. Event admission is $5 per person, collected at the door (parking fees do not apply) and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to MANNA FoodBank.
  • November 20, 2020-January 2, 2021: Winter Lights - For 2020, drive through the 1-mile light show with unique exhibits and a nighttime wonderland with thousands of lights! Read more.
  • Summer 2020: Willow Pond hands-on learning area opens with boardwalk, pavilion, and trails. Also, look for major improvements to parking!
  • More: Spring Events | Fall at Arboretum

NC Arboretum Butterfly Sculpture
See the gorgeous Life of the Monarch Butterfly sculpture in the Forest Meadow behind the amphitheater.

Garden Areas

  • 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!

Bonsai at NC Arboretum Fall

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.

NC Arboretum Trail

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 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
  • Guided Garden Tours on Fridays, 10 AM
  • Rocky Cove Railroad runs on Saturdays & Sundays

NC Arboretum Winter Lights
Winter Lights

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.

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.
  • 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. 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
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 spaces for ceremonies and receptions for up to 200 guests. Situated in the... read more
Annual Membership, offered by North Carolina Arboretum
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, discounts, special mailings, e-newsletter and reciprocal privileges with 200 American Horticultural Society gardens nationwide.
Rate: From $70/couple

Featured NC Arboretum Events

Orchid Show
Asheville Orchid Festival
Saturday, April 4, 2020 to Sunday, April 5, 2020
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.
Rose Show
Rose Show
Saturday, May 23, 2020 to Sunday, May 24, 2020
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 the selection, care and history of roses.
Bonsai Expo at NC Arboretum
Carolina Bonsai Expo at NC Arboretum
Saturday, June 12, 2021 to Sunday, June 13, 2021
As the premier annual bonsai event of the Southeast, the Expo offers programs for both the bonsai community and general public. It features a juried display of bonsai, a renowned bonsai marketplace, workshops, free demonstrations and more. Free event admission, parking fee.
Winter Lights NC Arboretum
Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
Friday, November 20, 2020 to Saturday, January 2, 2021
Drive through a one-mile stretch of impressive light displays and unique exhibits at the Arboretum! We are delighted to be a sponsor of this festive event.
November 20, 2020-January 10, 2021
This year, in light of COVID-19, take a festive drive through The North Carolina Arboretum's elaborate Winter Lights show, ... read more
Stroll 30+ acres of formal and informal gardens adjacent to the Biltmore House, all designed by America's foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. After your house tour, stroll through a... read more
Walk across one of the most beautiful highway bridges that you'll ever find! The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge opened in October 2013, transforming a former highway bridge into a gorgeous garden.... read more