The Visitor Center

The gateway to The Centers’ 12,000 acres will be the 45,000 square foot Visitor Center.  Designed to ensure that all visitors to The Center leave with the feeling that they had an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, even if they never set foot on one of the trails, drive the loop road or leave the building, it will deliver a variety of activities and attractions.  There will be learning opportunities around every corner.

In the main exhibit hall, an area will be dedicated to the “marquis species”, elk.  There will be life size taxidermy displays, antlers, bones and hides for hands-on examination, informational displays providing specific elk data, a history of the Kentucky elk restoration and current information regarding The Center’s resident elk herd.  Large screen video will display real-time GPS tracking of elk on and around the center, and a state-of-the-art video transmission system will provide live images of elk across The Center’s 19 square miles. 

A unique feature of the Visitor Center will be the Birders Hall, a chamber dedicated to bird watching.  Interactive displays will give visitors access to pictures and information on hundreds of bird species and allow them to listen to their songs and calls.  Visitors will also be able to find information on where along the loop road or on which trails they will be most likely to see specific bird species during each season.

The building will be home to a regional museum with displays addressing the natural  and cultural history of the region, the unique local geological history and the artistic and political contributors in the Appalachian region. 

A 120 seat theater will deliver a variety of video productions relative to the wildlife, history and geology of the region.  In addition to the films, staff naturalists will deliver presentations on the wildlife and habitat found at The Center and conduct question and answer sessions.  The theater will also be the venue for The Center’s Speaker and Seminar series.

The building will include classrooms to be used year-round in the accredited conservation education program.  Each classroom will have video transmission capability for remote learning events.

Another unique feature of the Visitor Center will be the Artisans market.  This will be an area where local, regional and nationally prominent artists and craftsmen exhibit and sell their works and demonstrate their crafts or skills.  Visitors can meet the artists and watch them at work. 

A gift shop will provide a diverse selection of merchandise, including unique regional products.

The Visitor Center will include a restaurant that will be a comfortable venue for visitors to relax and enjoy a beverage, snack or meal.