Newly installed interactive exhibits at Waterrock Knob Visitor Center, milepost 451.2 on Blue Ridge Parkway, highlight many elements of the high-altitude ecosystem, from bears to insects and buds.
Funded by donations to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the attractive signs and displays replace worn and outdated exhibits. For example, makeshift billboards have been replaced with new permanent signs that show how the elk returned to the boardwalk.
âWaterrock Knob is a wild and fascinating place,â said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Foundation. âNow visitors can better understand the flora and fauna that inhabit it and help protect this rare habitat. “
A 12-foot mural illustrates a multi-seasonal glimpse of the plants and wildlife found at this 6,293-foot peak, as well as the striking geological features of the brightly colored rock formations found on the nearby cliffs. Another panel tells the Cherokee story of “How the World Was Made,” which describes the buzzard creating peaks and valleys with its wings, both in the Cherokee syllabary and in English. An interactive element encourages visitors to turn a handle to view a magnified version of a woolly balsam aphid, the insect responsible for killing many trees seen outside the visitor center.
âWe are delighted that visitors who come to hike and enjoy the magnificent view of Waterrock Knob can engage in new and meaningful ways with the rich natural and cultural heritage of this site,â said Tracy Swartout, Superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway. “We are grateful to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and its community of stewards for supporting this project, as well as to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who ensured that the new exhibit accurately tells these important stories. . “