5 things to do near Roan Mountain State Park

June 7, 2016  |  Permalink

Roan Mountain State Park is one of the most striking and beautiful places in Tennessee. The park sits at the base of Roan Mountain, which at 6,258’ is one of the highest peaks on the Appalachian Trail. Because of its natural beauty, Roan Mountain is a bucket list destination for any outdoor enthusiast, and Roan Mountain State Park is the perfect staging ground for your trip.

Here are 5 things to do on your next visit:

 

WHERE TO STAY

Roan Mountain State Park

There are plenty of things to do when you visit Roan Mountain, but you need a place to stay. That’s why Roan Mountain State Park is your basecamp for adventure. The park has beautiful rustic cabins and sites for RV and tent campers. Unless you want to drive to Elizabethton (20 miles) or Johnson City (30 miles), it’s one of your best options for lodging in the area.

 

WHAT TO DO

1. Behold the beauty of the rhododendron

June is absolutely the best time to visit Roan Mountain State Park. The third week of June marks the annual Rhododendron Festival. You’re probably asking, “what is a rhododendron and why do I care?” A rhododendron is a flowering plant that produces large, pink blooms in the early summer and is common in the Southern Appalachian region. “Common” doesn’t do justice to how this plant takes over Roan Mountain. In fact, this is the largest, naturally occurring garden of native Catawaba rhododendrons in North America. In the month of June, Roan Mountain erupts in pink flowers, drawing crowds from all over the world to take in the spectacle. The cabins and campsites at Roan Mountain State Park are booked for the festival weekend, but the flowers are visible for a couple of weeks. You should plan your trip to coincide with the rhododendron blooms.

 

2. Step foot on the Appalachian Trail

You have to go up to the top of the mountain to step foot on the Appalachian Trail. There’s something deep and weighty about standing on such an iconic path. The view is breathtaking and photos will never do it justice. We encourage you to hike a portion of the trail. Even if you only do a mile or two, it’s well worth your time. In addition to seeing rhododendrons, you will also see large sections where you would expect to find trees, but instead see a layer of dense, native grasses. These areas are “Appalachian balds” and are a bit of a scientific abnormality. They occur naturally, but we don’t really know why.

 


3. Hike in and around the park

While the AT is cool, there is definitely more hiking available at Roan Mountain State Park and nearby at one of our newer parks, Rocky Fork. Rocky Fork State Park became a state park in 2012 and contains more than 2,000 acres of scenic wilderness. The park is so new that it doesn’t have a parking lot, visitor center, or even campgrounds. What it lacks in amenities it makes up for in beauty. Streams meander through the park, full of moss-covered boulders and native trout. We are still blazing trails, but guests are welcome to come hike at this destination that few others have seen. (Photo courtesy of ranger Marty Silver)

 


4. Experience frontier history at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

America’s colonial past comes to life at Sycamore Shoals State Park. Sycamore Shoals was the muster point for the Overmountain Men, who defeated British Major Patrick Ferguson at the battle of King’s Mountain. This defeat, according to many historians, turned the tide of the American Revolution in favor of the colonists.  The park holds an annual presentation of Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, “Liberty!” every weekend in July. The play tells the story of the colonists who settled in the area during the late 18th century and the role they played in American history.

 


5. Visit the birthplace of Davy Crockett

We all know the story -at least the Disney version – of the great Davy Crockett. The birthplace of this American hero is located about 50 miles east of Roan Mountain State Park. Davy Crockett was a pioneer, soldier, politician and industrialist who was born in Limestone, Tennessee in 1786. Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park is home to a replica cabin and visitor center full of Crockett artifacts.

 

Don’t let the summer pass by without experiencing Roan Mountain. Click the link below to learn more about the park and start planning your trip.

Plan Your Trip

About the author

Josh Gibson