Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

Our Mission

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.

Today, the Nature Center is one of the primary facilities in Western North Carolina offering school children and adults opportunities to learn about and develop an understanding of their responsibility for this area’s native wildlife and habitats. The WNC Nature Center is home to sixty species of wild and domestic animals and hundreds of species of plants, all representative of this unique bioregion, the Southern Appalachians.

The WNC Nature Center is managed by the City of Asheville’s Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department. The Department also maintains 54 public parks; six miles of greenways; 11 community centers; programs for youth, seniors, and outdoor enthusiasts; a comprehensive athletics program; and many facilities for a range of activities. 

Vision for the Future:
Wild Asheville!

Ribbon Cutting of the Grand Opening of the Red Panda Habitat
Red Panda Habitat Soft Opening

Since its grand opening in 1976, the Nature Center has been an integral part of the Western North Carolina community and contributed toward economic growth through tourism in the area. In 2008, City of Asheville residents were surveyed, and 85% felt the Nature Center was very important to the community. 73% felt that it was very important for the Nature Center to expand and/or improve.

As a result, the WNC Nature Center embarked on a journey in 2010 to develop a strategic plan to shape the future of the Nature Center. We’re proud to present VISION FOR THE FUTURE: Highlighting the unique wildlife of the Southern Appalachian region both past and present, the Nature Center will become a true gateway to the incredible world of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Completed Projects:

2010 – Brandon’s Otter Falls enhancement & new Turtle Pond Exhibit

2012 – Arachnid Adventure Playground & Enhanced Red Wolf Exhibit

2014 – Appalachian Station remodel with new Hellbender Exhibit

2018 – New Front Entrance with Relocated Gift Shop

2019 – First Prehistoric Appalachia Exhibit: Red Pandas 

Coming Soon:

2021 – Permanent Butterfly Exhibit

2025 – Black Bear Boardwalk Extension & Habitat Reconstruction

Friends of the WNC Nature Center logo

About the Friends of the
WNC Nature Center

The Friends of the WNC Nature Center create awareness and provide financial resources in support of the Nature Center- Asheville’s Wildlife Park. The Friends are dedicated to providing the resources to support high quality growth of the WNC Nature Center and its efforts to educate the public about the natural history and ecology of the Southern Appalachians Mountains.

The Friends have supported the Nature Center since 1974. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, they raise funds through donations, memberships, events, and Gift Shop sales. The Friends also provide outreach education, volunteers, and marketing for the Nature Center. 

Your tax-deductible donation to the Friends (Tax ID: 23-7412910) directly supports the animal habitats, education programs, and conservation initiatives of the Nature Center you love!

Historical Photos of the Asheville Children's Zoo and Nature Center