"Jocassee Gorges" refers to the geologic formations that make the area so remarkable. Streams and rivers coursing down the steep, half-mooned shaped escarpment that forms the base of the Blue Ridge mountains in northern South Carolina carved deep gashes in the rock that rises up suddenly from the piedmont. These are the Jocassee Gorges.
Kids (of all ages!) will have ample opportunity to explore, discover, and learn from a variety of habitats--from streams to rocky cliffs--in this unique interface between the South Carolina piedmont and the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Only a couple of highways penetrate this pocket of land called the Jocassee Gorges, and the best access is from Lake Jocassee, which nestles into the folds of the mountains at 1100’ above sea level. The lake is fed by four rivers flowing south off the Southern Blue Ridge Divide. Summer provides excellent swimming opportunities in one of the cleanest, clearest lakes in the eastern US, and winter provides opportunities for rambling through the woods, with plenty of FUN along the way!
National Geographic Names Jocassee Gorges
one of "50 of the World’s Last Great Places"
The Jocassee Gorges was recently named one of "50 of the World’s Last Great Places—Destinations of a Lifetime" in a special edition of National Geographic magazine. “National Geographic's special recognition of Jocassee Gorges is quite an honor,” said Mark Hall, Jocassee Gorges land manager for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. “We have one of the great wild places on our planet. It’s an exciting place to be, with the peregrine falcons appearing, more bald eagles showing up, National Geographic Audubon designating Jocassee as an internationally Important Bird Area, and one of the best places to see the Jocassee Gorges is from an observation tower on Sassafras Mountain in northern Pickens County, the highest point in South Carolina. Who knows what's next?!” The four-page spread in National Geographic’s special issue, titled “Jocassee Gorges: An Intense Concentration of Waterfalls,” features photos of Upper Whitewater Falls and Oconee bells.
“Thanks to the second highest rainfall in the continental United States,” the article begins, “the Jocassee Gorges area of North and South Carolina supports rare plants and one of the highest concentration of waterfalls in the eastern United States. The area was given added protection by the purchase of 40,000 acres by both states and several nongovernmental organizations, which connected some 200,000 acres and guarantees that plant and animal species would not be isolated. Living here are black bears, bobcats, wild turkeys, and the highest number of salamanders found anywhere in the world. Included among some 60 species of rare plants are 90 percent of the world’s Oconee bells, whose nearest relatives are in China and Japan.”
Jocassee Wild Child Outdoor Education programs are structured to meet SC state standards.
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