Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

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Construction is in progress around our barnyard area. During this time, our barnyard animals will be interacting with new habitats inside and outside of the barn and receiving daily enrichment. Please bear with us while we make improvements for our animals and guests!
Learn more about the project at

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Gateway to the Southern Appalachians

The WNC Nature Center is excited to embark on the next phase of our strategic plan, Vision for the Future. Complete with a long-awaited butterfly garden and immersive guest experience, a renovated barn and farmyard space, and an expanded Gift Shop, the Gateway to the Southern Appalachians project will break ground in late May 2024 with an expected completion in spring 2025.

The Gateway to the Southern Appalachians project features a newly renovated North Carolina Farm Yard area, butterfly play features and native gardens, and a larger Nature Center Gift Shop.

Over the next 11 months, guests will see construction in process to allow for the

  • renovation of the North Carolina Farm Yard and the Barn to provide larger grazing spaces for the animals and more storage space for equipment and animal feed;
  • creation of a native pollinator garden for butterflies, including Nature Play areas, shaded coverings, education kiosks; and
  • expansion of the Nature Center Gift Shop to 800 sq. ft. and creation of a Member Services Office.

Renovating the Farm Yard and Barn

An iconic landmark of the WNC Nature Center, the barn and adjacent farm yard will be renovated to enhance the space and add a hillside to the grazing area. Moving the farm yard to include the hillside will allow room for guest pathways to be widened.

During construction, our barnyard animals will be interacting with new habitats inside and outside of the barn and receiving daily enrichment. Our keepers are monitoring the welfare of our animals, and we’re excited for the improvements being made for our animals and guests! 

Photo circa 2005

Revisioning “The Beauty of Butterflies”

The WNC Nature Center first opened a seasonal exhibit called “The Beauty of Butterflies” in July 2004 to overwhelmingly positive public response. Guests were able to see butterflies representing 20 species and flowering plants in a 15′ by 40′ mesh hoop house. The exhibit provided education on the four stages of the butterfly life cycle and how to create habitats for pollinators. The Nature Center hosted this exhibit annually through the summer into early fall for seven years until 2010. Due to the exceeding popularity of this seasonal event, the Nature Center’s strategic plan included a vision to include immersive outdoor butterfly gardens.

Expanding the Gift Shop and Member Services Office 

The Nature Center Gift Shop will expand its footprint by moving across the Front Entrance Plaza to a newly constructed space. Doubling its square footage, the Gift Shop will be able to offer even more unique items and souvenirs for visitors. Membership will move to the old Gift Shop space, creating a Member Services Office to better serve Friends of the WNC Nature Center members.

Design-work for the Gateway to the Southern Appalachians and Butterfly Pollinator Gardens began in 2020 and the project broke ground at the end of May 2024. 

You can help!

The Friends of the WNC Nature Center are raising money to support the guest immersion spaces in the butterfly garden.  

Your tax-deductible donation can directly support the Gateway to the Southern Appalachians project. Just note Gateway in the online donation form gift note. Checks can also be made out to the Friends of the WNC Nature Center and mailed to PO Box 19151, Asheville, NC 28815.

Questions? Email Cindy at

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