Experience Fall in Roan Mountain
Published 9:21 am Monday, October 12, 2015
Take a trip to Roan Mountain State Park to view the brilliant colors of fall while skipping the overflowing crowds of the Smokies.
“We’re kind of a little retreat away from the national parks,” said J.R. Tinch, park manager. “You’re not going to be caught in all the traffic jams here. It’s not going to be as busy and as packed with visitors. It’s a little bit more laid back and low key. People can enjoy the outdoors a little bit more. We see an increase in crowds this time of year, but still nothing unreasonable.”
Now is prime time to hit the Roan, as the colors are close to their peak in the highest elevations. “As you go lower in elevation, as far as the valley of the Roan, we’re probably not going to be at peak for another week, week and a half,” Tinch said.
Tinch suggested a drive up TN Highway 143 toward Carvers Gap for prime fall foliage viewing. As you get closer to the North Carolina state line, several pull-off sites provide ample viewing opportunities.
Staying in one of the park’s 30 cabins is also popular in October. Availability increases once the leaves are down, and opportunities for savings are likely as well.
“Typically, there is some kind of winter promotion,” Tinch said. “It can be a half-price cabin during the week or stay one night, get one night free. The Tennessee State Parks also do something overall called Deal of the Week. Roan Mountain has been the deal of the week a couple of times here recently. Keep checking the website for deals.”
For campground and cabin availability and reservations, and for the latest promotion information, visit https://tnstateparks.itinio.com/roan-mountain.
The state park hosts several October special events to greet the influx of visitors.
The first weekend of the month saw the chili cook-off. This weekend, the park hosted an Autumn Harvest at the Miller Farmstead with traditional Appalachian crafts such as soap making and spinning. Oct. 24 is the date for what has turned into a wildly popular park happening – Halloween at the Campground.
“We shut down the campground and all the campers decorate their campsites,” Tinch said. “We do games and everybody comes and trick-or-treats at the campground. That’s become a large event.”
With the opportunities for color viewing and the chance to hit the trails before colder weather sets in, Tinch said fall is definitely one of his favorite times at the park.
“At Roan Mountain, we’re one of the few state parks in Tennessee that really has a true, full four seasons,” he said. “When you’re here and you see all the colors come out, it really shows nature at its best.”
Don Armstrong is a Mass Communications professor at East Tennessee State University and adviser to the East Tennessean, the campus newspaper of ETSU.