Roan Mountain State Park is one of the most scenic parks in East Tennessee. The Doe River burbles through the park, and the hardwood forest offers a cool, shady retreat. A short drive takes you to the Appalachian Trail, where the views from the mountain balds are simply exhilarating.
The first thing you'll notice is the brisk mountain air. At about 3,000 feet in elevation, the park is just high enough to make a big difference: cooling relief in the summer, wonderful color in the fall, wildflowers in spring, and the beauty of frost and snow in winter.
Hiking, fishing, biking, swimming, camping and even cross-country skiing are popular activities at Roan Mountain State Park.
Hiking Trails: The park offers a variety of trails, from easy nature trails to more strenuous trails that climb the ridges and offer outstanding views. The length of the trails ranges from .1 miles to 2.7 miles (one way). One of the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail is also a short drive away. Take Highway 143 south for a 15 minute (9 mile) drive up to Carver's Gap, where you can park to access the trail.
Mountain Bike Trails: There are two mountain bike trails. The Blue 2 Trail is the easier ride and is 1.8 miles long. The Ridge Top Trail is more challenging and is .5 miles long.
Fishing: The Doe River offers trout fishing year round. Besides rainbow, brown, and brook trout, there are bass, walleye and catfish to try for.
Swimming: The park's swimming pool is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, but only on weekends in August. It's got all the amenities, including lifeguards, a wading pool for the little ones, and a snack bar.
Recreation: Park facilities include tennis courts, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
Historic Sites: The Miller Farmstead is over 100 years old, and has been preserved to give you a feel for what life was like back then. Tours are offered seasonally, and special events and demonstrations are held there. You can drive up, or if you're looking for a good strenuous hike, take the Chestnut Ridge Trail (2.3 miles).
There's also the ruins of an old iron mine, which opened in 1898 and didn't last long. There's not much to see here, just the mine opening, which is blocked off since the shaft collapsed quite some time ago. But it's a short easy hike from the Visitor's Center.
Roan Mountain State Park offers both camping and cabins. You'll also find a smattering of vacation rentals near the park, and some bed and breakfast establishments. There are no hotel or motel facilities near the park.
Camping: The facilities here are pretty deluxe. There are 20 tent sites and 87 RV sites, for a total of 107. All the sites have water, and the RV sites have electric hookups. The bathhouse has hot showers, and with the nearby swimming pool, tennis courts and playgrounds, there's plenty to do. There's even Wi-Fi, though you can't expect to download large files or stream movies.
Cabins: For those who enjoy a bit more luxury than camping can afford, the park offers thirty cabins for rent. These are a pretty nice deal, reasonably priced with all the amenities you need. There are no TVs, but why would you need one when there are rocking chairs on the front porch where you can sit and decompress. The cabins have a kitchen, bath, heat and a wood burning stove, complete with firewood provided. Bedding and towels are also supplied. A 2 night minimum stay is required, and reservations can be made online up to a year in advance. You'll find all the details at the park's website, Roan Mountain SP cabin rentals.
Vacation Rentals and Bed and Breakfast Inns: Outside the park, there are several bed and breakfast inns and vacation rentals to choose from. You'll find a selection of the best accommodations close by at Roan Mountain Vacation Rentals.
Roan Mountain is definitely on my list of top 10 vacation spots in East Tennessee, but I'm not the only one who thinks this park is a great place to get away from it all. Check out these visitor reviews of Roan Mountain State Park. There are some great visitor photos there too.
Map of Roan Mountain State Park and Roan Mountain Gardens. Click on the full screen icon on the upper right for a larger view.