Ingles Open Road at WNC Nature Center
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I’m Chris Bainbridge inviting you to take a ride with me. This is an amazing place to find adventure in all shapes and sizes. Ingles has sent me on a mission to bring you the very best of what our beautiful home has to offer – food, fun, nature, music, and more. All affordable, and all out of the ordinary. This is The Ingles Open Road.
Today we’re tapping into our wild side, exploring 42 acres of award-winning animal habitats and having a lot of fun along the way. Welcome to Asheville’s Wildlife Park, the WNC Nature Center.
While Asheville has had a zoo since the Great Depression, the Western North Carolina Zoological Society formed in the mid- 1970’s. And in 1977 the Nature Center officially opened its gates to the animal-loving locals of Asheville and beyond.
A few years later in 1981 the River Otter exhibit opened. This is one of our favorite areas of the campus because not only can you enjoy these cute creatures above and below the water, you can do your own best otter impression and slide on down.
One really cool thing about the Nature Center is that it is populated entirely by animals that either live – or once lived – in the mountains of western North Carolina. Believe it or not their newest residents the red pandas actually once called these mountains home – albeit a long, long time ago.
Not only is this place home to amazing creatures you’ll love getting to know, the campus is beautiful. As you wander your way through tree-covered pathways you can soak in the beauty of the mountains, along with the beauty of our wild friends.
And there are a lot of wild friends. From big cats, to wolves and coyotes, to black bears, to foxes, and so much more. There is a reptile house, a bird sanctuary. And a little tortoise town.
And then there’s the barnyard. A place where you can get up close and personal with many of the creatures who played a big part in the early farm days of the area. With great interactions and fun, fuzzy creatures, it’s a great place for some up-close interaction.
There’s also a couple of great nature play areas, a gem and fossil mine, and of course the gift shop. This is a place you’re going to want to visit again and again… and good news, they have memberships that pay for themselves in just 2 visits – that also get you discounted access to zoos and aquariums across the entire country.
So get ready to get wild and try out one of my favorite places in the mountains. Plan your visit at WildWNC.org. And then head on over to the nature center for a howling good time. Your weekend is waiting on the Ingles Open Road.