Where is Roan Mountain State Park
527 HWY 143 Roan Mountain, TN 37687
Roan Mountain State Park is nestled in northeastern Tennessee at the bottom of the 6,285-foot Roan Mountain. The park has something to offer everyone, from the miles upon miles of quality trails to the deep-rooted history of the century-old Miller Farmstead. It is located in Carter County, near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Fun fact: on exceptionally clear days, the Charlotte skyline can be seen from the park’s peak. Roan Mountain US State Park is an 8-mile drive to the Appalachian Trail within Blue Ridge, a mountain range that stretches 450 miles from Pennsylvania to Georgia.
How Big is Roan Mountain State Park
The park encompasses more than 2,000 acres of mostly hardwood forest along rugged ridges. The clear Doe River winds its way through the center of the park, housing a healthy population of trout year-round. The park is in close proximity to Roan Mountain, the highpoint of the Unaka Range of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The mountain is composed of a dense forest terrain, with the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden and the longest stretch of grassy ridge bald in the Appalachian range. Wildflowers and wildlife inhabit the ridges of the park.
Roan Mountain State Park Weather
In Roan Mountain State Park, the summers are hot, and the winters are short, cold, and damp. It is somewhat cloudy year-round. Temperatures average around 25°F to 79°F throughout the course of the year. It rarely drops below 11°F in the winter or raises above 85°F in the summer. The warmest time of the year starts at the end of May and lasts until mid-September, with an average daily high of 71°F. The coldest time of year starts in late November and lasts until February or March, with temperatures averaging around 49°F. The coldest months are in January and February, with an average low of 25°F and high of 41°F. Summers are typically the clearest months of the year, while November through July are usually somewhat cloudy. Rain is common throughout the year, but more likely during the 5 months between April and August.
When did Roan Mountain Become a State Park
Roan Mountain State Park and the southern Appalachian Mountains as a whole, have a rich cultural history. In 1780, the Overmountain Men (American frontiersmen from the west of the Appalachian Mountains, who took part in the Revolutionary War), trekked through the park on their way to the Battle of King’s Mountain. The park also marks early mining ventures, farming, logging, and the old homesteads of families that settled in this area. For example, the Miller Farmstead is now a historic section of the park. The farm was settled in 1870 and the house was then built around 1908. Roan Mountain State Park was entered into the Tennessee State Parks system in the 1950s and it was ultimately developed in the 1970s.
Things to do in Roan Mountain State Park
There a quite a few things to do in the 2,000 acres of Roan Mountain State Park. Between the many trailheads, historic sites, and legendary fishing opportunities, there is no lack of activity the park. Our State Park Visitors Guide discusses activities below to put on your to-do list.
The Miller Farmstead
As mentioned earlier, the Miller Farmstead was built between 1908-1910 and is now preserved as a historic site. Back in 2015, the farmstead was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This century-old house is a great reminder of how Appalachian settlers used to live in the Roan Mountain area. It’s open to visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day and during the weekends of October.
The parking lot of Carver’s Gap provides an access point to the stunning Appalachian Trail. This section of the famous trail crosses a series of grassy, essentially treeless areas that give unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Hiking and Biking Trails
There are around 12 miles of hiking trails and 2 miles of mountain bike trails in Roan Mountain State Park. They vary in difficulty levels, so if you’re looking for an easy stroll or a more challenging trek, the park has something for everyone. For an easier hike, check out Peg Leg Mine Trail; it’s less than a mile long. Chestnut Ridge Trail, a 2-mile hike, is a more challenging option. Blue Two Trail and Moonshiner’s Run are great options for mountain bikers.
The Doe River, in the center of the landscape, houses the park’s healthy population of trout. Because of the clear, cool water, fishing is possible year-round. Many anglers practice fly fishing in the stream. Possible catches include native brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout, which is stocked by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The park has 3 picnic pavilions available to visitors. The tables can be reserved for large group gatherings. Additionally, camping areas are often equipped with picnic tables and grills. The maximum capacity ranges from 30 to 100 people.
Roan Mountain State Park is home to 174 distinct bird species. A visit during the off-season is great for viewing blue herons, barred owls, red-tailed hawks, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, cedar waxwings, red-bellied woodpeckers, and winter wrens. During the fall, keep an eye out for raptors. The park’s rangers will often host birding workshops and feeding programs.
Northeastern Tennessee gets some cold, wet winters. Because of this Roan Mountain State Park is a great spot for winter adventures like playing in the snow and cross-country skiing. The trails near Roan Mountain are even more intense than the ones within the park. The access point to Carver’s Gap is closed during the winter, making it the perfect spot for skiers to get some fresh, untouched snow.
If you’re planning to visit during the summer, Roan Mountain State Park is a great spot to escape the Tennessee heat. The park has an outdoor pool that’s great for swimming laps or something at a more leisurely pace. There are concessions stands as well, if you’re looking for a quick bite or a refreshment. The pool is open during the peak season, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
With the breathtaking views of Roan Mountain, many visitors love to stay overnight in the park. There is a total of 87 RV sites with water and electrical hookups, and 20 tent sites with water. All campsites have a picnic table and grill, with bathrooms and a dump station nearby. The lower RV loop and tent area is open year-round for campers.
Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival
The Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival is held every summer at the park. It celebrates the blooming of the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden that blooms in third or fourth week of June. The festival offers visitors the opportunity to try local foods, purchase handmade crafts, and listen to traditional southern Appalachian musicians.
When to go to Roan Mountain State Park
Roan Mountain State Park is open year-round, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Campers are permitted to stay overnight. There are different activities to take part in from season to season. The peak season lasts from mid-June to mid-September, when the weather is hot and sunny. Warm weather calls for swimming, hiking, mountain biking, and taking a visit to the Miller Farmstead. During this time, all trails, campsites, and swimming areas are open for visitors to enjoy. The off-season, on the other hand, is great for bird watching, cross-country skiing, fishing, or playing the snow. The park empties out, making it the perfect outdoor oasis. All in all, there’s no right or wrong time to visit; it all depends on your interests and which activities most excite you and your family.
Must-Have things to bring to Roan Mountain State Park
Here are the top ten essentials List of Parks suggests to bring along with your visit to Roan Mountain State Park. We’ll cover everything here, from necessary gear to snacks to clothing.
Swimming Pool Necessities
If you’re visiting Roan Mountain State Park in the summer, the Tennessee heat can get brutal. Luckily, the park has an outdoor swimming pool, with a lifeguard on duty, plenty of lounge chairs, and even free Wi-Fi. Don’t forget to pack all the essentials you need for a pool day, including a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and floaties for young children.
For all the winter nature lovers, cross-country skiing or simply playing in the snow can be an exhilarating experience. Bring your skis, winter coat, and snow boots for some fun in Roan Mountain’s winter wonderland. It’s the ideal spot for all winter adventurers with the frosty views, paired with minimal crowds.
There are so many opportunities to catch some epic trout along Doe River. The river stretches through the center of the park, helping visitors easily find the perfect spot to cast out their lines. While on the topic, don’t forget a rod, line, bait, hooks, and lures. Chances are you’ll be able to reel in anything from a native brook trout to a rainbow trout or even a brown trout.
The park is home to hundreds to notable bird species that are particularly present during the off-season. Bring your binoculars and start searching for some feathered creatures. Between the blue herons, owls, hawks, sapsuckers, waxwings, woodpeckers, and winter wrens, there are so many chances to see a unique bird flying through sky or resting in a nearby tree.
With approximately 12 miles of hiking trails, all with a variety of difficulty levels, visitors can easily find a trailhead that meets their needs. Whether planning to take a leisurely stroll or hike something harder, it’s important to wear shoes that will support you through any trek. Hiking boots or sneakers are great options to consider.
Whenever heading to a state park, whether it be for camping or another outdoor adventure, you should bring food to stay energized and alert throughout the day. Your snacks can be more than the common protein bars and trail mixes. You can get creative with it. Fruits, vegetables, bread, dry foods, peanut butter, crackers, canned foods, and dehydrated foods are all great options.
The great outdoors is filled with wildlife, unique bird species, and of course bugs. Most will mind their own business, but mosquitos and ticks are the ones that tend to bite. Bring some form of bug repellent, whether that be a spray, bug-resistant clothing, or a citronella bracelet. Keep in mind, these bugs are attracted to things that smell, including scented lotions and food. Try to avoid any sweet-smelling products and clean up your food immediately after eating.
Weather conditions can change at the snap of a finger. It’s best to prepare for any scenario, like rain, wind, and changes in the temperature. Prepare for colder weather by packing extra clothes to layer. For warmer temperatures, bring a moisture-wicking T-shirt and shorts. You might even want to consider a long-sleeve shirt to protect against the sun and bugs. A rain jacket and wind breaker are also good options to keep in your backpack or car.
If you plan to camp overnight in the park, having the necessary supplies and equipment can make all the difference. Make a checklist ahead of time that includes everything you’ll need for camping and planned activities. Some important items bring when camping include a tent, sleeping bag, pillows, flashlights, lighter, lantern, firewood, and more.
Probably the most important thing to bring on your visit to Roan Mountain State Park is water. Pack enough for an entire day’s worth of outdoor adventures. There is water available to purchase at the swimming pool, but this concession stand is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you plan to go during the off-season, there is no guarantee water will be available inside the park.
Where to stay in Roan Mountain State Park
There are quite a few camping opportunities in Roan Mountain State Park. First, there are 30 cabins nestled in the woods, all featuring a front porch, rocking chairs, a full kitchen, full bath, wood stove, and outdoor grill. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance. Additionally, Roan Mountain State Park Campground accommodates recreational vehicles, tent camping, and even group camping. There are 87 sites for RVs, some of which have water and electric hookups. All the sites on the campground are suitable for tent camping, specifically with 20 sites along Doe River that are designated for tent-only campers. The tent-only sites must be reserved in advance. There are four group camping sites, located south of the tent camping area. Each area can hold up to 25 people and feature picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and water collection points. There is no power available, so get ready for an off-the-grid experience.
Food Nearby Roan Mountain State Park
Roan Mountain State Park is mostly known as an isolated area due to the rugged landscape. There are, however, a few diners and dive restaurants a few miles outside of the park’s entrance. Bob’s Dairyland, in particular, serves excellent barbecue food that you won’t want to miss. There’s a Walmart about 20 minutes from the park if you need to stock up on snacks and water. Within the park, there’s a concession stand near the swimming pool. Keep in mind, it’s only open during the peak season; if you plan to go in the fall or winter months, prepare food and drinks ahead of time.
Airports near Roan Mountain State Park
Getting to and around Roan Mountain State Park is a breeze by car or recreational vehicle. Highway 143 runs directly to the park and the campground is even located right off the highway, making it very accessible. If you plan to fly, the closest airport is Blountville Tri-Cities Airport in northern Tennessee. It’s around 42 miles from the park. Additionally, the Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina is 58 miles from the park and the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina is 90 miles away. Charlotte, North Carolina is the closest major city that sits approximately 130 miles outside of Roan Mountain.