The Little River Canyon Center is a cooperative endeavor between the National Park Service and Jacksonville State University. Randy Owen of the legendary country band Alabama is a Jacksonville State Trustee and was instrumental in the center's establishment. The facility serves as a field school for the university. Professors and students provide expertise and resources for public interpretive programs and classes that take place at the center's indoor and outdoor classrooms.
The 23,000 square foot Little River Canyon Center is still very new, so they are working on making it an unforgettable educational experience. In addition to the existing classrooms, there are plans for an indoor interactive museum that will teach about the geology and natural science of Little River Canyon. The way it was described to me it sounded like a lot of fun and included an educational climbing wall.
Outside the beautifully designed building is a massive deck constructed of recycled materials. The view from the deck is very nice, and there are plans to add a stage for concerts and various other events. There are several outdoor interpretive classrooms located along a path that arcs through the natural North Alabama underbrush behind the building. There is also an old log cabin on display that was built in the early 1800s.
First, it is very near Desoto State Park which was hosting their annual Spring Flower Saturday on this particular weekend. We absolutely love the park and its campground.
Second, the center was hosting a Cinco de Mayo party that included lots of fun and educational activities for kids.
Third, the center as also presenting an amphibian interpretive program that featured tadpoles and frogs, always a winner with kids.
When we arrived, the center's director met us at the door inviting us in to eat. The building's entrance is beautiful, framed with stacked stone and vaulted ceilings. The center of the building is a breezeway that allows air to flow through keeping the main area comfortable, We learned that the building features a geothermal heating and cooling system, and many of the materials are recycled. Very green!
After eating a wonderful meal and bursting several pinata, we headed for the activities. You can see by the pictures, there was fun had.
Soon it was time for the amphibian presentation. The kids filed in, and filed in, and filed in. The JSU professor seemed a little surprised at the sheer numbers as well as the age group. We could tell he was used to a little older crowd. However, he did a fantastic job of adapting, and kept the kids' interest for the entire session.
In all, we spent
about 3-4 hours at the center before heading back to camp at
Desoto State Park. We had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and
left with several tadpoles, including a rare albino.