We are so lucky to have the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville! Working on a home garden project and need some design and plant ideas? Looking for a beautiful place to stroll, hike or bike? Be sure to visit this 434-acre public garden in the Pisgah National Forest, located at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway in south Asheville. Photo above: Quilt Garden
Surrounded by the dense folds of the botanically diverse Southern Appalachian Mountains, the NC Arboretum is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural garden settings in America. A center for education, research, conservation, economic development 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, garden demonstrations and workshops. 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 at the North Carolina Arboretum. Represented are traditional Asian bonsai subjects, such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm; tropical plants, such as willow leaf fig and powderpuff; and American species, such as bald cypress and limber pine. Of particular importance are the plants native to the Blue Ridge region, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine, which enable the Arboretum to bring the thousand-year tradition of bonsai home to the mountains of Western North Carolina. From mid-November until mid-March, there are no live bonsai plants on display due to colder weather. But you can 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.
- 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, 12 Noon-4 PM
Special Events & Exhibits
There are many throughout the year. See their Calendar of Events. And 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.
- Admission: Free, but there is a parking fee. $14 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.
- 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.
Rate: From $70/couple