Friday, June 10, 2011
Roan Rhodos and Renovations
The road to the top of Roan Mountain was recently opened following a year of renovations which left the mountain closed to vehicle traffic. With $700,000 of stimulus money, they tore down and rebuilt the bathrooms in the Cloudland parking lot, re-paved the Cloudland parking lot, constructed an extensive network of cement sidewalks throughout the Rhododendron Gardens (photo below) and replaced the old overlook deck (photo right). Everything looks terrific. The walkways in the gardens are wider and more accessible and family friendly. The only thing on my wish list that they didn't have money for was paving the road and parking areas. But hey, I'm happy to once again have the mountain opened up to explore.
The rhododendrons are at their peak at Carver's Gap right now (top photo). From there it looked like the rhododendrons and flame azalea are at their peak on the balds (though I didn't hike up there today). Next weekend is the Rhododendron Festival in the town of Roan Mountain, TN -- and as usual, they've pegged the perfect weekend. The rhodos in the Rhododendron Gardens look like they'll reach their peak beginning about mid week next week. If you remember, last year was a meager year for Rhododendron blooms. I guess the plants have a cycle to them and last year the plants put their energy into growing, not blooming. Well, this year it appears the plants are focused on putting on an outstanding show.
While we were there we were reminded of the crazy weather on Roan. It was sunny and 90s when we began our journey. By the time we reached the top, the rain clouds opened, then the hail came. Soon it was 55 degrees. If you look closely at the bottom two pics, you'll see the remains from the hail storm. My point is (and I have to always remind myself), be prepared for anything up there. Throwing jackets into the car when it's 90 degrees seems insane, but then again, that word is often used to describe the weather on the Roan.
I know I said I'd post more on Wolf Creek Falls...I will soon!
Labels: Roan Mountain