Campground Review: Roan Mountain State Park
Location: Roan Mountain, Tn
Hook Ups: Yes. Water, 50/30
Campground Review: Great location about a 1/3rdof the way up Roan Mountain. With an elevation of about 3,000 feet up it also stays relatively cool during the summer (relative being the operative word). We have visited twice, once in the fall and once in the spring and both times we needed coats and long pants. The campground itself is very well kept and the comfort stations all have heat and showers. There is not always an attendant at the check in building so there is a heavy rotation of rangers coming through the area checking tags.
There are two sections at the campground. The lower section stays open year round but the upper section is closed during the colder months. They should show as available for booking only when it is open. The lower section is flat with not many trees or privacy between sites but is great for groups of more than one trailers. And all of the sites are close to the stream with about a quarter of them right on the stream. The stream is shallow so it is great for the kids to play in. Fortunately fishing is allowed in the stream, unfortunately there are NO fish in the stream!
The upper section has more wooded (more private) sites available. Some of the sites can be a bit difficult to get to with longer trailers that are over 30″. There is a difficult turn around at the top of one of the loops in which you have to circle the bathhouse. The back corner of the building shows the scars of the not so fortunate ones that tried to make the turn.
Things to Do: The best part of the campground by far is its proximity to the balds at the top of Roan Mountain where you can park and walk along the Appalachian Trail in a couple of directions. It’s about a 10 mile (20 minute) drive to the Carvers Gap where the parking lot is and that also serves as the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
When facing this sign you can choose to go left, or North, up Round Bald which is the much more scenic version or to the right, south, which is a more strenuous, more wooded hike up the Roan Bald.
We prefer the Round Bald hike since we have three kids and you just can’t beat the views on the way. If you are visiting during the summer apparently the Rhododendrons are blooming and its a beautiful sight to see. About 1/3rd of the way up, the path goes through a thick spruce forest that is perfect for taking a break or grabbing some shade.
Once you clear through the forest you are almost to the top of the bald and the views are spectacular in all directions. To the south you can see Roan Bald and to the north, Jane Bald.
All in all the trip took about 90 minutes but you can find yourself staying up there much longer with a picnic.
Additionally on the mountain is the Miller Farmstead. This is a short couple mile drive back down the mountain from the campground. The farmstead was settled in 1870 with a house that was built around 1908. It is a STEEP drive up the hill to the parking lot so don’t bother trying to walk up it. Once you are up there it’s just a short walk down the hill to see the home and the surrounding buildings such as a barn, chicken coop etc.
Groceries: Make sure that you do the majority of your shopping on your way there. By the time you get to town your options will be limited for groceries but there are a couple stores that will suffice in a pinch and there are two good Bar-B-Que Restaurants in town as well.
Last piece of advice: If you want firewood first look to see if the roadside stand is open as you start up the mountain. It should be about a mile up the road. The prices are much more reasonable than in town or the campsite and you get more wood per bundle.
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