The USDA Forest Service today announced that Roan Mountain Gardens Recreation Area will reopen today after a year-long renovation project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). More than $700,000 in Recovery Act funds allowed the Forest Service to provide employment for local contractors while addressing a backlog of maintenance and facility needs.
“I very much appreciate the public’s understanding over the last year while the recreation area was closed during renovations,” said Appalachian District Ranger Tina Tilley. “The improvements will provide a safer and more enjoyable visit.”
Visitors will enjoy noticeable improvements to a wide variety of facilities at the Gardens, located near the NC/TN line, southwest of Carvers Gap off NC Highway 261 and TN Highway 143. A new accessible restroom replaced a dilapidated 1960s-era restroom facility near the Cloudland parking lot. The Forest Service replaced and resurfaced the Rhododendron Gardens’ observation deck and its connecting trail system to increase visitor safety and accessibility. Recovery Act funds enabled the agency to resurface the main, paved road leading to the Cloudland parking to increase comfort and visitor safety.
Hikers enjoying the trails on Roan Mountain may also notice Recovery Act-funded restoration work on the balds at Grassy Ridge, Bradley Gap and Big Hump Mountain. Crews have been mowing, weed-eating, and using chainsaws to control trees, shrubs and blackberries from encroaching on the sensitive species native to the area. High-elevation grassy balds represent a very rare plant community and Roan Mountain supports some of the most extensive and pristine grassy balds in the Southern Appalachians.
For more information on these projects, contact District Ranger Tina Tilley at 828-682-6146.