The Junior League of Chattanooga and Reflection Riding collaborated to establish the Nature Center. They opened its doors to the public in 1979, with a focus on conservation and ecology themes.
The Visitor Center building is an environmental model—taking advantage of passive heating and cooling to harness the natural tendency of heat to rise and cool air to sink.
The Trombe walls, a passive solar building technique, on the south side behind the offices are made with high thermal mass building materials—meaning they take a long time to heat up and/or cool down—creating energy-efficient, passive heating and cooling options.
Large overhangs on the south side of the building block summer sunlight while letting in lower winter sunlight for heat.
The Visitor Center houses the reception desk, the Hollow Tree Gift Shop, the Red Wolf area for children, the library, the canoe training center, the playscape, Snake Tale Alley, restrooms and offices.