If you have visited my blog for any time at all in the past, you know that I have a love affair with the National Parks. One of the first stops any time you visit a new to you national Park has to be the Visitor Center. There is so much to learn there about the history or natural features that make the park special, such as this exhibit at the Visitor Center of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Skagway, Alaska. It shows how much supplies a Gold Rush prospector had to carry to the top of the pass to be allowed into the Klondike to search for gold. (Only part of this park is in Skagway, the other end of the Gold Rush travel was in Seattle, and someday I will visit the Visitors Center there.)
Sometimes the Visitor Center displays extend outside the building, such as this slice of an eight hundred year old Douglas Fir tree showing the rings and events during the tree's lifespan.
Some Visitor Centers are small and simple, such as this one at Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. The park is not well known and is rather out of the way, so it does not get nearly as many visitors as Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or Mt. Rainier.
The architecture of many Visitor Centers often brings the outdoor view indoors, such as this wall of windows at Arches National Park in southeast Utah.
That was one of the wonderful features of the old Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise on Mt. Rainier, the 360 degree view in its round observation room. The building reached the end of its usefulness last year, when it was replaced by a new building more in keeping with the surrounding rustic architecture. The new Center opened in October, and the old one was demolished shortly afterward, before the winter set in.
The new Visitor Center does not sacrifice the view.
And its new displays are well organized. The relief map of the park, moved from the old center, is a great gathering place to organize hikes with a ranger. There are similar maps at other park Visitor Centers.
As we ccome to the end of the alphabet once again, what have you found for the letter V? You can see what others have posted linked at the ABC Site.