North Carolina Arboretum

Updated: April 2019


Envisioned by F. Olmsted in 1898

American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned the North Carolina Arboretum in 1898, shortly after he finished the beautiful grounds on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, which include → The Gardens at Biltmore House.

Frederick Olmsted was well known through his design of Central Park in New York City and the designs of many other parks in the U.S. and Canada, on which he had worked with his senior partner Calvert Vaux. However, it took another 90 years to make his idea of an arboretum a reality. Finally, in 1986, the North Carolina Arboretum was created and is part of the University of North Carolina.


Adjacent to  Pisgah National Forest  and just off the  Blue Ridge Parkway  at Milepost 393, the  North Carolina Arboretum  is located in one of the most beautiful settings in the area. Inspiring exhibitions, an extensive bonsai collection, and many trails let visitors spend a couple of hours at the Arboretum and enjoy the picturesque scenery. Shown here is the  Heritage Garden  with the  Baker Exhibit Center  in the background.

Adjacent to Pisgah National Forest and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393, the North Carolina Arboretum is located in one of the most beautiful settings in the area. Inspiring exhibitions, an extensive bonsai collection, and many trails let visitors spend a couple of hours at the Arboretum and enjoy the picturesque scenery. Shown here is the Heritage Garden with the Baker Exhibit Center in the background.

American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned the  North Carolina Arboretum  in 1898, shortly after he finished the beautiful grounds on  Biltmore Estate  in Asheville, which include  The Gardens at Biltmore House . Pictured here are the lovely  Quilt Garden  and the  Blue Ridge Court  with its water fountain and the 8-foot bronze statue of Frederick Law Olmsted. The statue was sculptured by Zenos Frudakis in 2016, representing Frederick Olmsted during his time in Asheville.

American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned the North Carolina Arboretum in 1898, shortly after he finished the beautiful grounds on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, which include The Gardens at Biltmore House. Pictured here are the lovely Quilt Garden and the Blue Ridge Court with its water fountain and the 8-foot bronze statue of Frederick Law Olmsted. The statue was sculptured by Zenos Frudakis in 2016, representing Frederick Olmsted during his time in Asheville.

It took another 90 years to make Frederick Olmsted’s idea of an arboretum a reality. Finally, in 1986, the  North Carolina Arboretum  was created. It is part of the  University of North Carolina .

It took another 90 years to make Frederick Olmsted’s idea of an arboretum a reality. Finally, in 1986, the North Carolina Arboretum was created. It is part of the University of North Carolina.

The  Stream Garden  features primarily native plants typical of a western North Carolina mountain stream setting. The  North Carolina Arboretum  is also home to an extensive outdoor art collection with 35 permanent art pieces. A guide, called the Art Walk, helps visitors to locate the artwork in the gardens. Seen here in the background is the  Stream Garden Gate , which is made of iron, stainless steel, and auto paint.

The Stream Garden features primarily native plants typical of a western North Carolina mountain stream setting. The North Carolina Arboretum is also home to an extensive outdoor art collection with 35 permanent art pieces. A guide, called the Art Walk, helps visitors to locate the artwork in the gardens. Seen here in the background is the Stream Garden Gate, which is made of iron, stainless steel, and auto paint.

Benches are nicely placed throughout the garden to relax and admire the beautiful vistas and fantastic artwork.

Benches are nicely placed throughout the garden to relax and admire the beautiful vistas and fantastic artwork.

The rising sun on a foggy morning can immerse the gardens in a mystical light. The  Gardener’s Green Shed  with its moss green roof is located by the  Baker Landscape  garden area.

The rising sun on a foggy morning can immerse the gardens in a mystical light. The Gardener’s Green Shed with its moss green roof is located by the Baker Landscape garden area.

Taking the stairs from the  Grand Garden Promenade  to the  Outdoor Event Center , visitors pass by the  Rocky Cove Railroad , a G-scale (garden scale) model railroad underlining the importance of trains to the development of western North Carolina. The model railroad is operated Saturdays and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm (April to October).

Taking the stairs from the Grand Garden Promenade to the Outdoor Event Center, visitors pass by the Rocky Cove Railroad, a G-scale (garden scale) model railroad underlining the importance of trains to the development of western North Carolina. The model railroad is operated Saturdays and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm (April to October).

The  Outdoor Event Center  is an amphitheater, which is used for lectures, performances, and cultural events.

The Outdoor Event Center is an amphitheater, which is used for lectures, performances, and cultural events.

View from the  Entrance Plaza  by the  Education Center . Three art pieces, called  Magniflowers , surround the water pool at the center of the plaza. Also located in the  Education Center  is the  Savory Thyme Café .

View from the Entrance Plaza by the Education Center. Three art pieces, called Magniflowers, surround the water pool at the center of the plaza. Also located in the Education Center is the Savory Thyme Café.

The  Baker Exhibition Center  is situated on the east side of the large parking lot.

The Baker Exhibition Center is situated on the east side of the large parking lot.

Inside the  Baker Exhibition Center  you can pick up trail maps and guides as well as purchase souvenirs from the  Connections Gallery  gift shop on the second floor. From the second floor, you have access to the  Baker Landscape  and the  Heritage Garden .

Inside the Baker Exhibition Center you can pick up trail maps and guides as well as purchase souvenirs from the Connections Gallery gift shop on the second floor. From the second floor, you have access to the Baker Landscape and the Heritage Garden.


 

Send a lovely Greeting Card with a real photograph of the North Carolina Arboretum

All Greeting Cards are handmade by us in the U.S.A.

 

11 Trails for Hiking and Biking

The North Carolina Arboretum covers over 434 acres within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, of which 65 acres are cultivated gardens. A total of 11 trails for hiking and biking offer over 10 miles (16 km) of fun and relaxation through western North Carolina woodlands. The trails are categorized from easy to difficult. If you are up to a serious hike, the Bent Creek Trail connects to the trail leading to Lake Powhatan.

Tours with Volunteer Guides

On Saturday and Tuesday afternoons at 1 pm, trained volunteer guides lead small groups along woodland trails through a variety of forest types and explain wildflowers, plants, and trees.

In addition to the various garden areas, the Arboretum offers a total of 11 trails for hiking and biking with over 10 miles (16 km) of fun and relaxation through western North Carolina woodlands.

In addition to the various garden areas, the Arboretum offers a total of 11 trails for hiking and biking with over 10 miles (16 km) of fun and relaxation through western North Carolina woodlands.

The wider trails, which are also labeled “roads,” are shared between hikers and cyclists.

The wider trails, which are also labeled “roads,” are shared between hikers and cyclists.

Six of the 11 trails are designated only for hikers. The paths are generally well maintained and vary from easy to difficult.

Six of the 11 trails are designated only for hikers. The paths are generally well maintained and vary from easy to difficult.


Extensive Bonsai Collection

One of the North Carolina Arboretum’s highlights is their extensive bonsai collection. The Bonsai Exhibition Garden, which opened to the public in 2005, shows more than 100 display-quality specimens. Usually, the age of the tree is given much focus in a bonsai collection. As the age of the bonsai plants is mostly unknown to the North Carolina Arboretum due to the many donations, curator Arthur Joura focuses more on the artistic design and health of the bonsai plants. He is also a fan of using Southern plants like the Eastern white pine, red maple, Virginia creeper and American hornbeam for his bonsai creations to add to the traditional Chinese elm and Japanese maple, which are the more typical bonsai plants.

A highlight of the Arboretum is its extensive bonsai collection with over 100 display-quality specimens, 50 of which are on display from May to October in the  Bonsai Exhibition Garden .

A highlight of the Arboretum is its extensive bonsai collection with over 100 display-quality specimens, 50 of which are on display from May to October in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden.

Usually, the age of the tree is given much focus in a bonsai collection. However, due to the many donations of the bonsai plants their age is mostly unknown. Therefore, the Arboretum focuses more on the artistic design and health of its bonsai specimens.

Usually, the age of the tree is given much focus in a bonsai collection. However, due to the many donations of the bonsai plants their age is mostly unknown. Therefore, the Arboretum focuses more on the artistic design and health of its bonsai specimens.

Even if you are not a bonsai expert, these plants are just beautiful to look at.

Even if you are not a bonsai expert, these plants are just beautiful to look at.


The  North Carolina Arboretum  is open year-round and offers picturesque vistas while you stroll through the neatly arranged gardens or relax on one of the many benches, enjoying the serenity of nature.

The North Carolina Arboretum is open year-round and offers picturesque vistas while you stroll through the neatly arranged gardens or relax on one of the many benches, enjoying the serenity of nature.



100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
Entrance at Milepost 393.
Tel.: → (828) 665-2492

 
 
 

April to October:

Mon. to Sun.: 8am to 9pm.

November to March:

Mon. to Sun.: 8am to 7pm.

Baker Exhibit Center, Education Center:

Mon. to Sun.: 9am to 5pm.

Bonsai Garden:

Mon. to Sun.: 9am to 5pm (May to Oct.).

Rocky Cover Railroad:

Sat. to Sun.: 12pm to 4pm (Apr. to Oct.).


All year.


$14 per car.


Parking at the Baker Exhibit Center.


Great trails for hiking, biking or just to enjoy nature.


The Arboretum offers 11 hiking trails. Some are shared with bikers.


The Arboretum offers 11 biking trails. Some are shared with hikers.


The Arboretum is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available at the Education Center and the Baker Exhibit Center.


Sandwiches and soft drinks can be purchased at the Savory Thyme Café in the Education Center.


Restrooms are located in the Education Center, the Baker Exhibit Center and the Outdoor Events Center.