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‘It looks like a whole new place’ – Roan Mountain State Park unveils extensive upgrades

Jacob Young, park manager for Roan Mountain State Park, shows off the upgraded electrical system in the park's campground.

Jacob Young, park manager for Roan Mountain State Park, shows off the upgraded electrical system in the park’s campground.

Roan Mountain State Park’s campground recently celebrated a grand re-opening after extensive renovation projects left it looking like “a whole new place.”
Ranger Jacob Young, the park manager at Roan Mountain State Park, said the park upgrade has been a two-year project.
“It was a massive renovation. It looks like a whole new place,” Young said. “We’ve had nothing but positive feedback on it.”
The upgrade covered everything from electrical work to water lines to paving projects.
“It started with new water lines,” Young said. New lines were installed throughout the campground, through the cabins area and even at the pool. Young said the old copper piping was replaced with PVC pipes as part of the upgrade.
Electrical service at the campground also received a much-needed upgrade, Young said. “We replaced all the electrical systems,” he said. “It’s better wiring and more panels so it’s less likely to throw a breaker.”
Young said campsites on the “lower loop” of the campground also received an upgrade from 30 amp to 50 amp electrical service. “That allows your big giant gospel-group type motor homes,” Young said. “Before those campers had to cut down on their power use or would go to another location with more power.”
He said the campsites on the upper loop still offer 30 amp electrical service but with all new wiring and panels.
The position of the electrical service access at the campgrounds was also changed, Young said. “What the problem was in years past was the water and electrical outlets were on the wrong side of the sites,” he said, adding that those using the campground frequently had to run wires across the site underneath their camper in order to be able to hook up to the electrical service.
Two new bathroom facilities were also installed — one at Shelter 3 and one in the campground itself, Young said.
The bathroom facility at Shelter 3 features ADA-compliant handicap-accessible bathrooms. Young said this was a great improvement for Shelter 3; previously there was no bathroom facility at that location and those attending activities at the shelter had to walk to the campground area to find a restroom. Also, Young said, the parking area for Shelter 3, which had previously been a graveled area, was paved as part of the upgrade.
Young said the new bath house facility at the campground is also ADA-compliant handicap-accessible, including the shower.
“You can take a wheelchair in and roll it right up to the shower,” he said, adding that several campsites connect to the new bath house to provide easy access.
Existing bathroom facilities at the park also received attention in the form of fresh paint, new counters, new mirrors and new doors, Young said.
One of the other major improvements to the campground was paving of the sites used by campers and RVs and repaving of the roadways. Young said previously the camp sites were covered with small gravel, which led to a number of problems.
“It’s cleaner for the campers and it’s easier to maintain, plus we won’t have to buy gravel every year,” Young said, adding that the paving also improved the safety of the campground because during rains water would pool in the campground and the railroad ties would become very slick.
Young said all of the stairs in the campground area were reconstructed, two bridges crossing the river in the camping area were rebuilt, new washers and dryers were installed in the laundry facility and the campground now features WiFi internet access. He said plans are also under way for new grills and picnic tables in the campground, as well as a new playground.
A grand re-opening ceremony for the campground was held on June 30 with representatives from the Tennessee State Parks system as well as state and local officials.
Young offered high praise for state park officials in helping to improve the campground at Roan Mountain State Park.
“Our Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill has been instrumental in getting us the funding for this,” he said.
In addition to the campground, Roan Mountain State Park features 30 cabins, the century-old Miller farmstead, a nature center, swimming pool, 12 miles of hiking trails and 2.25 miles of mountain bike trails. The 2,000-acre park also features premier trout fishing along the Doe River.