Custom Wayfinding System Installed in Watauga County, NC

Lured by cool temperatures and stunning mountain vistas, Boone, NC and surrounding Watauga County have long been a sought-after destination for travelers from around the world.

Increasingly, both new residents and visitors are excited to explore this outdoor paradise nestled into the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This artful new wayfinding system will help.

a split image, showing the front and back of the Watauga County wayfinding signs. The wayfinding signs are green and feature popular outdoor attractions and recreational activities.

Now, this adventure mecca has navigational signs dotted across its landscape. These signs direct travelers to the sights and locations that captivate visitors and make the local community proud of their hometown. OUR hometown, actually. Destination by Design is based in Boone, NC and many of our team members live (and play!) in the area.

DbD was contracted by the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority to spearhead a wayfinding project. A 40-sign system was developed. Each sign depicts major attractions and popular recreational activities in the area. The DbD team guided the process from initial concept to final construction. Signs were installed in late August.

a man is kneeling on the ground underneath a large wayfinding sign. He is installing the navigational signs on the side of the road.

“Boone is a coveted destination for people from across North Carolina and across the country,” said Eric Woolridge, Director of Planning and Business Development and Boone resident of 25 years. “We wanted the wayfinding system to offer a unique sense of place, both for visitors and locals who call the High Country home.”

Each sign features double-sided hand drawn graphics. The front-side variations feature local outdoor destinations — Grandfather Mountain, Elk Knob, the New River, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Downtown Boone. The back-side variations depict the popular outdoor activities of hiking, fishing, biking, paddling, and snow skiing.

“Our team worked hard to capture the community’s love for the outdoors,” said Alex Gotherman, the firm’s Director of Design.

“We aimed to inspire with the message on the back of the signs: ‘Find Your Adventure’. When my gear is loaded and I’m headed to the trailhead, I drive past the signs and they feel like a celebration of what makes this place special.

a drone shot of two men in yellow safety vests installing a large wayfinding sign in Watauga county.

The new wayfinding system does more than help visitors navigate. It provides a cohesive sense of place for both tourists and locals. Effective and clear signs empower visitors to explore the area and discover sights they may not have seen otherwise. The signs are a reminder that Boone is a special place to visit, live, and recreate.

“The signs feel like they should have always been here,” said Amber Bateman, a Boone native. As Director of the Watauga County Arts Council, Bateman is steeped in the arts, especially as they pertain to the region.

“These beautiful, cohesive pieces make Boone feel like the epic destination that it is. They are sculptural, entirely unique, and look right at home here in the mountains.”

a man is studying an installation guide for the Watauga County wayfinding signage
a detailed shot of a Watauga county wayfinding sign, featuring a kayak and the words 'Find Your Adventure'.

Additionally, The DbD team has created wayfinding systems for Nags Head Woods Preserve and the City of Lenoir.

Thank you to the Watauga County TDA for getting creative with us and for the opportunity to develop this unique way finding package for the Boone and Watauga County area. Signs Etc did an exceptional job constructing and installing these signs around Boone and Watauga County.

A wayfinding sign is shown by the side of the road in Watauga County. It is a large green sign with blue directional features.