Roan Mountain

  

Close up of flowering rhododendron on Roan Mountain

Famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons, Roan Mountain shelters a rich diversity of life, from spruce-fir forests to vast grassy balds.

Roan Mountain is actually not one mountain, but a high ridge about 5 miles long. It ranges from a height of 6,286 feet at Roan High Knob to a low of 5,500 feet at Carver’s Gap. No one knows the origin of the mountain’s name. Some claim the name refers to the roan or reddish color of the mountain when rhododendrons bloom in June or the mountain ash berries appear in September. Others say the name comes from Daniel Boone’s roan horse, because he and his horse were frequent visitors.

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At a Glance

Operational Hours: This recreation area is closed between the hours of 10:00PM and 6:00AM. The season of operation is from Memorial Day Weekend through the end of September.
Area Amenities: Accessible,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees $3.00 per passenger vehicle, for larger vehicles and buses $1.00 per person. The cost for a season pass is $15.00. The passes are available for purchase at the Appalachian Ranger District located at 632 Manor Road, Mars Hill NC.
Open Season: Memorial Day - Last Weekend in September
Restrictions: Possessing alcoholic beverages, camping and overnight parking are prohibited.
Closest Towns: Bakersville
Water: Drinking Water
Restroom: Flush
Operated By: USDA Forest Service the district office phone number is (828) 689-9694

General Information

Directions:

From Burnsville take 197 N to Red Hill, turn left towards Johnson City, TN (Hwy. 226N). Go 3 miles to Fork Mountain Rd. #1338; turn right and go to the end of the road. Turn left onto 261 N and follow 261 N to Carver's Gap. Follow the signs from there to the Gardens.


General Notes:

The first human visitors to Roan Mountain were American Indians, who lived at the base of the mountain and traveled across its gaps. The first people to study the mountain were botanists, such as Andre’ Michaux, John Fraser, and Asa Gray. They described rare plant communities and discovered scores of “new” plants, including Fraser fir, Catawba rhododendron and Grays lily.

Around 1870, General John T. Wilder bought 7,000 acres along the top and sides of Roan Mountain. It was Wilder who built the road to Carver’s Gap. He also constructed a 20-room log inn near the summit of Roan High Knob in 1877, then replaced it with the luxurious Cloudland Hotel. For about 20 years, guests enjoyed the “pure air, the delightful temperature, the clear cold spring water and the perfume-laden woodlands.” Today little evidence remains of the once grand hotel.

Appalachian Ranger District
632 Manor Road
Mars Hill, NC 28754
(828) 689-9694 


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Hiking

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Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

An easy , paved trail starts at the information cabin and winds through rhododendrons to and overlook. You can choose between a short, 0.3 mile loop or continue on a longer, figure-eight loop. The Cloudland Trail is a moderate, 1.2-mile hike from the end of the Cloudland parking area to a Roan High Bluff Overlook. The Appalachian Trail crosses Roan Mountain on its trek from Maine to Georgia.

Backpacking

Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

An easy , paved trail starts at the information cabin and winds through rhododendrons to and overlook. You can choose between a short, 0.3 mile loop or continue on a longer, figure-eight loop. The Cloudland Trail is a moderate, 1.2-mile hike from the end of the Cloudland parking area to a Roan High Bluff Overlook. The Appalachian Trail crosses Roan Mountain on its trek from Maine to Georgia.


Nature Viewing

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Picnicking

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Amenities

Picnic tables
Drinking water
Toilets
Parking
Accessible Upper Loop of the Roan Mountain Garden Trail # 1002