Friday, November 11, 2011

Interpretive Center at Tallulah Gorge, Georgia

Tallulah Gorge Interpretive Center

When visiting Georgia’s beautiful Tallulah Gorge for the first time, make the impressive Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center on the North Rim your first stop. This Center, if memory serves, is a cooperative project between Georgia’s State Park System and Georgia Power. Somebody with deep pockets must have been involved. And their money’s been well spent.

Tallulah Gorge Interpretive CenterHere you’ll find all sorts of useful information about the Gorge, the history of the surrounding area, flora and fauna, and most important, instructions for safely hiking the North and South rims of the Gorge. And safety is a real concern here.

03 awardsThe State Park System requires permits for visitors who plan to hike to the bottom of the gorge. 100 permits are issued per day, according to the sign. To protect the Gorge’s sensitive environment. And, I suspect, to keep track of visitors who decide to venture down all of those steps. In case someone has to be carried back out. I resisted the temptation to ask for a permit ….

06 plaqueNamed in honor of celebrated Georgia environmentalist, Jane Hurt Yarn [born in Greenville, South Carolina, by the way!], this 16,000 square foot facility itself is well worth a few hours of your time.

04 building back viewIt was designed and built by Bowen & Brown, an innovative North Georgia general contracting firm. They’ve managed to create a structure here that blends beautifully into the overall Gorge environment. No easy assignment! So, take time to walk around the outside before you go in.

Interpretive Center DisplayInside, they’ve managed to make their displays accessible to those of us who don’t get around as easily as we once did. Click the photo above for a better view of the ramped wildlife exhibits that occupy the center of the building.

Interpretive Center Wildlife DisplaysThe ramp is easier going down than up, especially for folks relying on wheels. [There’s an elevator between floors.] But either way, the exhibits are accessible. Now, who’d want to miss a close-up view of these two critters! [Click through the Picasa album below for some more.]

Gorge Area American Indian CultureDon’t miss the informative exhibits on both the top and lower levels of this facility. They’re really well done. Some, text-heavy enough to please even recovering academics like me.

Gorge Area Later European SettlersOthers relying on presentation of artifacts and reproduced period photos to project their information to the public. Now, if they only had a cellphone tour here, like the Town of Cheraw, South Carolina ….

And don’t miss the fifteen-minute film on the lower level. It provides a good introduction to the overall Gorge environment, perhaps best viewed just before venturing out on the North Rim Trail. More on that in the next post.

Interpretive Center Gift ShopA final impressive feature of this Interpretive Center is their gift shop. Now, we’ve all wandered through gift shops in similar facilities. Most of them pretty much alike. This one, though, is worth a few minutes of your time.

13 gift shop 2The items for sale are carefully selected and attractively displayed. Lots of local artists and craftsmen find shelf space for their creations here. They’re not offered at WalMart prices, to be sure. But you’re likely to find something worth taking home. So, don’t visit the gift shop until you’ve hiked the North Rim trail and are about to return to your car.

Click on the image below to access more photos of this impressive facility. This is the first time I’ve tried to include a Picasa link. So let me know if you have any difficulty with it. []

Tallulah Gorge Georgia Interpretive Center

Stay tuned since next we’ll tackle the North Rim Trail here at Tallulah Gorge.

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