Roan Mountain Citizens Club assures visitors: ‘Roan Mountain is not closed!’

Published 9:21 am Monday, June 10, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

The Roan Mountain Citizens Club wants to reassure visitors to Roan Highlands: Roan Mountain is not closed and the 77thAnnual Rhododendron Festival, June 22-23, is continuing as planned.

“ROAN MOUNTAIN IS NOT CLOSED!” the club posted Sunday on its Facebook page.

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“Carvers Gap will remain open. Visitors can hike the Appalachian Trail side of Roan Mountain on well-maintained gravel walkways (these are not wheelchair accessible completely, unfortunately),” the post said. “Rhododendrons are plentiful on the Appalachian Trail side and the view from the crest of this trail is absolutely breathtaking! The restroom and picnic areas on Carvers Gap will also remain open. The closure only applies to the paved road that leads to the garden area. Hikers are welcome to travel to the gardens on-foot, but vehicles are not allowed due to repairs to the actual road and pavement. While parking will be more limited, parking areas are available at Carvers Gap.”

In a recent interview, club President Brian Tipton said there are well over 100 vendors signed up to participate in the festival and activities will take place at the amphitheater on Roan Road across from Roan Mountain State Park Headquarters and Conference Center. 

“Every year, there’s always new vendors,” Tipton said. “We have probably 30 to 40 new vendors this year,” Tipton said, adding that the festival has many vendors who return every year, which lends a family reunion feel to the gathering. “We’ve got to see all these kids grow up,” he said.

Tipton said the top-rated festival, which was first held in 1947, attracts a huge crowd with music and locally made crafts as it “showcases” Roan Mountain that weekend. “But it’s also an opportunity for people to see the area and come back and visit the local businesses,” Tipton said.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 22-23, at the Roan Mountain State Park amphitheater area. The festival proceeds are used to support the community through various organizations, activities, and local student scholarships.

The U.S. Forest Service announced earlier this year the Roan Mountain Recreation Area will be closed this summer as it undergoes a major renovation funded through the Great American Outdoors Act. 

The areas to be closed during repairs include the road access to the Rhododendron Gardens, Roan High Bluff, Cloudland parking area, and Cloudland Trail. Carvers Gap and the Appalachian Trail will remain open, but there is limited parking at Carvers Gap.