Visitor Center

The Cradle of Forestry


CLOSED FOR THE 2023 SEASON. Make plans to visit us on April 13, 2024 for Opening Day!

11250 Pisgah Hwy.
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-3130


Make plans to join us on April 13, 2024 for Opening Day!


$8/adult (13+)
$4/child (4–12)
$4/Federal Passholder

Complimentary Cradle Season Passholders
Purchase Season Pass

Mailing Address
49 Pisgah Highway, Suite 4,
Pisgah Forest 28768
Have you been here?

This 6,500-acre site in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC was established to “preserve, develop, and make available to this and future generations the birthplace of forestry and forestry education in America.”

The Cradle of Forestry in America is nestled in the Pisgah National Forest along the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.  Our trails offer visitors a chance to explore seven historical buildings from the time of the Biltmore Forest School (1898-1914), climb aboard and ring the bell of a 1914 Climax logging train engine, and interact with historical interpreters through programs and special events. Inside our Discovery Center you’ll find our gift shop bursting with nature-themed books, clothing, toys and crafts, a spacious theater playing a short film about the history of our site, and an interactive exhibit hall. You can also view the mature American Sycamore Apollo Moon Tree on our campus. Learn more at Apollo Moon Trees.

View Cradle Map →

Share information with your friends or learn more  Cradle Rack Card

The site is family friendly however, please note that all children must be accompanied by adults at all times while on site.


From Asheville, NC, keep right at the fork to continue on I-26 E. Take exit 40 for North Carolina 280/Asheville Reg’l Arpt toward Arden. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for WNC Agriculture Ctr/Airport and merge onto NC-280 W/Airport Rd/New Arpt Rd. Merge onto NC-280 W/Airport Rd/New Arpt Rd. Continue to follow NC-280 W. Pass by Taco Bell (on the right in 15.8 mi). Turn right onto US-276 N. Turn right onto Cradle Dr.

FIND Your Next Adventure

  • Forest Place Gift Shop
  • The Cradle Cafe (Temporarily Closed)
  • Discovery Center/Exhibit Hall
  • Community Science Lab
Things to do…
  • Paved Trails with Interpretive Exhibits
  • First in Forestry Movie
  • Climax Steam Train
  • Guided Hikes
  • Weekly Public Programs

Educational Activities

Jr. Ranger Program

The Jr. Ranger program at FIND Outdoors introduces visitors to the seven Leave No Trace principles in a fun and easy to understand way. Each FREE booklet provides games, things to talk about around a campfire, and different “Ranger Missions” to explore each of the Leave No Trace principles.  

Ask about becoming a Jr. Ranger the next time you visit a FIND Outdoors site!

Find Outdoors Tours

FIND Outdoors Tours & Field Trips

Education is integral to FIND Outdoors mission, we offer educational programs, field trips and tours at all of the visitor centers and campgrounds we manage. Whether you use our self-guided Junior Ranger booklet to become a Leave No Trace advocate or visit with a school field trip, we love seeing children, adults and families explore, learn about and enjoy their public lands.

Learn More →

Get your Visitor Center Passport!

Pick up a complimentary FIND Outdoors Visitor Center Passport at any of our managed visitor centers — Anna Ruby Falls, Brasstown Bald, Cradle of Forestry, Gladie Visitor Center and Pisgah Visitor Center. Then stop by all five to collect your passport stamps.

When you’ve got all five stamps, email to receive a prize!

Additional Information

National Forest App

Download the National Forest App before you visit. This free app offers maps of the Pisgah district and the Cradle’s 3 miles of interpretive trails. It also includes an “I Spy” Guide to interest children and adults along the trail, an audio tour of the historic Biltmore Campus trail, and more.

Why is the location called the Cradle of Forestry?

The 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry Historic Site in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, commemorates the beginning of forest conservation in the United States. On this site in 1898, Dr. Carl Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, founded the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in America.

What is the Biltmore Forest School?

The Biltmore Forest School was the first school of forestry in North America. On the Cradle site in 1898, Dr. Carl A. Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, founded this school of “practical forestry”. The goal of the school was to teach responsible forest management to local men in the timber industry, primarily as a reaction to the extensive and indiscriminate deforestation of the area in the late 19th century.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Beautiful Downtown Brevard
  • Hiking in the Pink Beds
  • Looking Glass and Moore Cove Falls
Please, be sure to #RecreateResponsibly so that your public lands can be enjoyed for generations to come!

Love the view?

You can help ensure that sites like this remain available for generations to come.