A new North Carolina license plate will help raise money to preserve Pilot Mountain State Park.

The effort to get the state-required 300 signatures for a specialized plate began in 2020. But the early going was slow due to the pandemic. 

Last fall, a fire aided by high winds and dry conditions swept across the mountainside, ultimately reaching the famous knob. Organizers say that the Grindstone Fire rallied the community to support efforts to assist the park, including the license plate drive. It included a $6,000 donation from Truliant Federal Credit Union to help with the application fees.

Debbie Vaden is president of the nonprofit Friends of Sauratown Mountains. She says the money will be used to preserve and maintain Pilot Mountain and educate people on the importance of fire prevention.

“The Grindstone Fire was set by some campers not in the campground," she says. "And they started a small fire that ended up becoming a 1,000-acre fire, unfortunately.”

The Friends of Sauratown Mountains volunteer on behalf of both Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock. Vaden says money from the plate sales will go exclusively to Pilot Mountain programs.

The nonprofit will get $20 from every Pilot Mountain license plate. Vaden says more than 350 have already been sold. 


  • pilot mountain fire

    Smoke from the wildfire as the mountain burns in the fall of 2021. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

  • charred trees

    Charred trees are visible along the hiking trail to the knob in July 2022. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

  • Pilot Mountain

    "The Knob" at Pilot Mountain in July 2022. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

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