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Judaculla Rock.
What do these carvings mean? No one really knows.

Judaculla Rock

Field review by the editors.

Cullowhee, North Carolina

An old linen postcard of a guy in farmer overalls and a weird-looking rock was one of the bizarre images that first got us excited about roadside wonders. Who was that blurry old man?, we asked. Where was that rock?

Vintage postcard.
The vintage postcard that brought fame to the rock.

The old man was farmer Milas Parker and the rock was Judaculla Rock -- and back then it was an obscure, nearly-forgotten oddity that proved impossible for us to find, tucked into a back hollow of the Appalachian foothills.

Today, however, local boosters tout the rock's cultural and archeological significance, and it's easy to get to. There's a historical marker out by State Route 107, and helpful green highway signs point the way along twisty back roads to get visitors to the rock. In 2011 the descendants of Milas Parker donated over 100 acres of land to create a park around the Rock, and it now has its own walking trail and elevated viewing platform.

For all its newfound credibility, it's still a weird-looking rock, covered with 1,548 petroglyphs according to one of its many surrounding interpretive signs. Another sign speculates that it may have been a boundary marker for Cherokee hunting grounds; a third explains that Judaculla was a "legendary giant and master of animals;" a fourth points to a spot on the rock with Judaculla's handprint, which looks more like a floppy octopus you'd find in the toy section of a pet store.

To our satisfaction, two of the signs include reproductions of the old Milas Parker linen postcard, suggesting that its tantalizing allure has not lessened even for modern-day, culturally circumspect tourists.

Judaculla Rock

Judaculla Rd, Cullowhee, NC
From US 74, take Exit 85 to Business Route 23 through Sylva. Stay on 23 1.3 miles to NC 107, then turn left onto 107. Drive 8 miles south on 107 and take a left onto Caney Fork Road, County Road 1737. Go 2.5 miles then turn left onto a gravel road and drive 0.45 mile. Look for rock and viewing platform on the right, parking is on the left.
Sunrise to dusk. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

American Museum of the House CatAmerican Museum of the House Cat, Sylva, NC - 9 mi.
License Plate BuildingLicense Plate Building, Sylva, NC - 8 mi.
The Fugitive Movie Bus and Train WreckThe Fugitive Movie Bus and Train Wreck, Dillsboro, NC - 10 mi.
In the region:
Statue of Junaluska, Savior of Andrew Jackson, Lake Junaluska, NC - 18 mi.

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