(“Location, Location, Location”, Key words: “Park” and “Forest”, Roan Mountain State Park – “The Diamond in the middle of the ‘rough’”, The Rhododendron Festival Photo Galleries, Three Lakes, Aerial Photos, More Key words: “Trail” and “Parkway,” The Appalachian Trail (“The AT”) and Blue Ridge Parkway, Brochures, Websites, In the News)
Location, Location, Location: Here you and your family can enjoy getting to a mountain vista for hiking, biking, or to pristine lake or river for boating, in less than 30 minutes from work while you also live in a location relatively close to metro area (Under two hours to Charlotte and less than three to Atlanta). In other words, to get this beauty you don’t have to live in a completely remote place. And at Johnson City’s location country and elevation, we enjoy almost ideal weather in each of the four seasons of the year.
- Johnson City, Tennessee is home to a total of 83 mountain summits and peaks.
We enjoy protected, publically accessible forest and wilderness areas, lakes, rivers and waterfalls in three mammoth national forests on our immediate east and south, and along with a national park they total almost 2 million acres. The historic Appalachian Trail (The “AT”) runs right through our area, and the Blue Ridge Parkway has the most visitors – 16 million, than any national park/site in America.
Importantly, these are public lands administered by federally-funded entities regarding upkeep, safety, nuisance control, maintenance, construction, and expansion programs. There are usually visitors’ centers that are well- marked and helpful expert ranger staffs. There are no fees for park entrance and small fees to use their amenities.
Key words: “Park” and “Forest.” The National Park Service (NPS) is the US Federal agency that manages all our national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations – totaling 84.4 million acres. This is an agency of the US Department of the Interior, whose head, the Secretary of the Interior, is a cabinet officer nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Most of the direct management of the NPS is delegated by the Secretary to the National Park Service Director, who must also be confirmed by the Senate.
- The national park in this Online Job Tour is The Great Smoky Mountain (below).
- The 21,989 employees of the NPS oversee 398 units, of which 58 are national parks.
- The National Register of Historic Places is also administered by the Park Service.
The United States Forest Service is administered by the United States Forest Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture, covering the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands which encompass 193 million acres. Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, and the Research and Development branch. The Forest Service employs 34,250 employees in 750 locations, including 10,050 firefighters, 737 law enforcement personnel, and 500 scientists The everyday work of the Forest Service balances resource extraction, resource protection, and providing recreation. The mission of the Forest Service is “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
- We have three huge national forests: The Cherokee National Forest’s north section lies alongside Johnson City’s eastern border and Pisgah and Nantahala national forests are to our south.
- The budget of the national forest service is 55% larger than the NPS due to the need to cover comparatively huge land masses which are more remote and less commercial (less fees are charged).
The Cherokee National Forest is a large National Forest created on June 14, 1920 and managed by the U.S. Forest Service encompassing some 655,598 acres. It entirely surrounds Watauga Lake, and South Holston Lake on its Tennessee shoreline (also TVA lakes, these are some of the most pristine in America). The Cherokee National Forest has two separate sections: a northern region directly north of the Great Smokey Mountains NP and a southern section directly south of the Smoky Mountains.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States and straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountain, which are a division of the Appalachian Mountain chain. 10 million tourists visit the park each year – Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge – tourist destinations in our region, lie within the park. It lies south of the Cherokee National Park and is more of a square shape with its border running between our Northeastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. It encompasses 522,419 acres. The park was chartered in 1934 and officially dedicated in1940.
Pisgah National Forest covers 512,758 acres of mountainous terrain in the southern Appalachian Mountains, including parts of the Blue Ridge and the Great Balsam Mountains. Elevations reach over 6,000 feet and include some of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in the eastern US and lies just outside the eastern boundary of Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah National Forest is divided into 4 Ranger Districts: the Grandfather, Appalachian, French Broad, and Pisgah districts. The Pisgah National Forest was established in 1916, one of the first national forests in the eastern United States.
The 250,000 acre Nantahala National Forest, established in 1920 is located in far western North Carolina in Macon, Jackson, and Swain counties. The word “Nantahala” is Cherokee meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.”
Roan Mountain State Park – “The Diamond in the Middle of the ‘Rough:”
Roan Mountain Park Ranger Jacob Young with Beth Jarrett at the Miller Homestead – once a working family farm
Welcome to Roan Mountain State Park
Jacob Young gives a tour of one of the most impressive state parks in the eastern United States – its history (including the Cloudland Hotel), conference building, the spectacular view of the Roan Massif – part of the Smokey Mountain Chain’s 5000 to 6000 foot peaks and the world’s largest spring rhododendron bloom. The Miller Homestead is a 100 year-old maintained family farm, and we visit a campground and one of the park’s 30 AAA-rated cabins.
If you perform an internet image search for “Roan Mountain State Park” or “Roan Mountain” the results will be pages of images more beautiful than perhaps any location in the United States. Roan Mountain State Park is in Carter County along the North Carolina border, the park preserves woodlands near 6,285’ Roan Mountain. The park is small at 2,006 acres and pristine.
- This park offers far more than the fall foliage colors that one would expect being in the Appalachian Mountains, with the earth’s largest rhododendron bloom in the springtime.
- The Rhododendron Festival is held in Roan Mountain, TN on the third weekend in June.
- With more than 800 plant species, Roan Mountain also has the mysterious high-elevation “balds,” which are grassy fields and summits at high altitudes where trees cannot generally grow.
- Interestingly, on one bald exists a patch of Fraser firs, planted in the 1940s by Dr. D. M. Brown of East Tennessee State University. His trees grew well, but they did not reproduce.
- The park also hosts a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Other attractions include the Millers homestead, and Carver’s Gap, TN (Miller’s homestead is in the video and photo gallery, Carver’s Gap is mentioned below).
This map of Roan Mountain at Roan Mountain State park shows the park’s compelling location alongside the Tennessee-North Carolina line and between The Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests. Notice the Appalachian Trail that runs alongside the park – note to the far right of this map the arrow pointing to Carver’s Gap, TN, which is discussed immediately below.
Carver’s Gap, a low point in the ridgeline of Roan Mountain, is 8 miles past the park on highway 143. As you drive up the road you leave Roan Mountain State Park and enter Cherokee National Forest. The parking lot at the gap provides access to the Appalachian Trail (AT). To the north, the AT crosses a series of grassy balds that offer unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina.
- This 10 mile stretch of balds is touted by many AT thru hikers as one of the most beautiful sections of the entire trail. To the south, the AT climbs to the high point of 6,285’ at Roan High Knob.
Rhododendron Festival Welcome
Jacob welcomes you back to Roan Mountain State Park at the Rhododendron Festival in mid June – one of Carter County’s biggest annual events.
Thirty AAA cabins are situated in the woods of Roan Mountain State Park. Each cabin has a front porch with rocking chairs, fully outfitted kitchen, full bath with tub/shower, wood burning stove and gas/electric heat. Firewood, bedding and towels are provided by the park. Cabins 21-30 have telephones; none of the cabins have televisions.
All of the park’s 107 family campsites have a grill and picnic table and are located near a bathhouse with hot showers. A dump station is located at the campground check-in. The campground has 87 RV sites with water and electric hookups and 20 tent sites that are served by two community water spigots. The tent camping area does not have electric or water hookups. Four group sites, which will accommodate approximately 25 people each, are available for non-profit groups. These four sites may be reserved up to a year in advance.
Boone, South Holston, and Watauga lakes are TVA-created and regulated and provide spectacular water recreation throughout the year. Watauga, entirely surrounded by Cherokee National Forest (which has no commercial or industry development) is the highest elevation reservoir in the state and one of the cleanest in the country. Throughout the region there are waterfalls, whitewater for kayaking and tubing – kids camps particularly focus on these activities; and of course there is plenty of fishing in our unlimited number of rivers and streams.
- Many of our friends and neighbors live on Boone Lake while others have lake homes or regularly rent lake cabins for a week or for weekends in the summer time.
- Numerous kids camps, such as Doe River Ministries, offer fun activities.
South Holston Lake is located across the Tennessee and Virginia borders – of its 7,580 surface acres 1,600 are in Virginia, and its full capacity is 252,800 acre–feet. Boone Lake is within Johnson City limits and the smallest of the three TVA reservoirs with a surface area of 4,400 acres, and it is a shallow lake at 75,829 acre feet at full capacity. Watauga Lake islocated southeast of Elizabethton and its lake surface covers 6,430 acres. Watauga’s elevation is the highest of all TVA lakes at 1,959’ above sea level and at full capacity it is 152,829 acre feet. Our lakes and rivers are plentiful and offer excellent fishing for a variety of species.
Key words: “Trail” and “Parkway:” The Appalachian Trail (known here as the “AT”) is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between north Georgia and Mount Katahdin, Maine. The total length is approximately 2,200 miles. On its route from Georgia to Maine, the AT also passes through the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as crosses the Cherokee National Forest and Roan Mountain State Park. Trail hikers who attempt to complete the entire trail in a single season are called “thru hikers;” those who traverse the trail during a series of separate trips are known as “section-hikers.” Rugged terrain, weather extremes, freedom from illness or injury, and the desire to commit the time and effort required make thru-hiking difficult to accomplish. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy gives the name “2000 Miler” to anyone who completes the entire trail.
Maps showing the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail, and the Blue Ridge Parkway is the most popular site
among all the national and state parks in the country with 16 million annual visitors
Tennessee has 71 miles of the trail along or near the North Carolina Border that runs just below the summit of
Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National and Roan Mountain State Parks and is the highest point on the entire trail at 6,643 feet. North Carolina has 88 miles on the trail entering from Georgia at Bly Gap to the Nantahala River Gorge at the entrance to Smoky Mountains National Park. Altitude ranges from 1,725 to 5,498 feet. Virginia has 550 miles of the trail. Substantial portions closely parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway and its lower altitudes are often considered the best for beginner hikers. In the southwestern portion of the state, the trail goes within one half mile of the highest point in the state, 5,728’ Mount Rogers, which is a short “side hike” from the AT.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. About 16 million people visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it the National Park Service’s most popular attraction. Begun during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the project was originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway.
Camping on Roan Mountain
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Cherokee National Forest
Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest
Roan Mountain State Park
Roan Mountain State Park (Official Website)
New Roan Mountain State Park Exhibit Celebrates Area’s Uniqueness
Hiking Through Appalachian Trail
75 Years of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Watauga Lake is Tennessee’s “Crown Jewel” Lake
Outdoors Skills help Four Local Scouts achieve Eagle Rank
Roan Mountain State Park named “State Park of the Year”
Insider’s Guide to the Appalachian Trail in Upper East Tennessee
Carter County Parks & Recreation Board works with Birders & Southern Off-Road Bicycle Assoc