Roan Mountain Recreation Area to close for summer due to intensive repairs

Published 3:48 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

Roan Mountain Recreation Area will be closed this summer as it undergoes a major renovation, funded by the Great American Outdoors Act.

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According to the U.S. Forest Service website, the area to be closed during repairs includes the rhododendron gardens, Roan high bluff, Cloudland parking area, and Cloudland Trail. Carver’s Gap and the Appalachian Trail will remain open, but there is limited parking at Carver’s Gap.

Crews are drilling a new well and replacing the current water distribution system. The project also includes road surface improvement, replacing curbs and fences, rehabilitating picnic sites, replacing flooring in the visitor center, new interpretive signs, and repairing damage on the observation decks.

District Ranger Jennifer Barnhart expressed hope for the future of the site for many more generations to experience.

“Roan Mountain is one of our most beloved areas, and we recognize this closure is a hardship, but the work that needs to be done can’t happen during harsh winter weather,” she said. “We plan to have everything done by late summer/early fall and we know visitors will appreciate and enjoy the improvements when the site reopens next year.”

Visitors are asked to plan accordingly and should contact the district office at 828-689-9694 for more information. According to, parking is $3 per vehicle, while larger vehicles and buses are $1 per person and must be paid on-site with cash using the fee tube.

To research alternative hikes in the area, visit

The Great American Outdoors Act was enacted Aug. 4, 2020, and is the single largest investment in public lands in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Among its initiatives was the establishment of the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Fund to address deferred maintenance and repair on public lands, allocating up to $1.9 billion annually for fiscal years 2021 to 2025. The act also authorized permanent funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year.

The Roan Mountain project was chosen from among a select number nationwide to be funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund. Enacted into law in 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act provides opportunities for the U.S. Forest Service to make major improvements to existing infrastructure, recreation facilities, public lands access, and land and water conservation.

A portion of the funding and future improvements will be guided by a dedicated collaborative known as the Roan Highlands Visitor Use Management Committee (VUM).

The VUM was formed to tackle visitor-use challenges like environmental degradation and plan for sustainable use. The group is composed of representatives from Appalachian Trail Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club, Roan Mountain State Park, Friends of Roan Mountain, and local community representatives from North Carolina and Tennessee. Since 2022, the group has collected visitor use data and implemented improvements throughout the Roan Highlands region, with special attention to Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge.

The Roan Highlands VUM strives to protect high-quality visit experiences and our natural and cultural resources. The Committee welcomes questions and input to help guide them in meeting their mission. In the future, they hope to expand efforts to include coordinated community advocacy.

To learn more about the VUM Committee and receive updates on its work, please visit

For more information, visit or follow the National Forests in North Carolina on Facebook (