Gorges State Park in Sapphire officially dedicates its new visitor center with a ceremony at 2 p.m. this Friday. The new 7,100-square-foot, eco-built visitor center stands as a testament to the potential for the only state park west of Asheville. The new building is impressive visually, with high glass windows that let in natural light, a lounge equipped with a stone fireplace, top notch exhibits, and gift shop. A nature center is packed with displays explaining the history and ecological uniqueness of the park. The center has a large balcony with a view and is designed in a way to collect rainwater for recycling and power its lights with solar panels. The state’s purchase of the tract in the 1990s put thousands of acres of unique gorges and waterfalls along the southern Blue Ridge escarpment into public ownership. In the 15 years since the park’s dedication, the slow process of developing the 7,000 acre tract into a site that would suit visitors traveling from across the state, and the country, began to take form. During the past five years, the park has paved and properly graded primary roads through the park, built two picnic shelters and bathrooms, and constructed new maintenance facilities for the park. This month, the crowning jewel – the visitor center – will open after 1.5 years of construction.
Gorges State Park unveils new visitor center on Friday
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