Atop Roan Mountain on the Tennessee Border

On Monday, I drove to the 5,500 foot Carver’s Gap along the North Carolina/Tennessee border to see the rhododendron blooming. I had heard that the flowers were early this year, but that information didn’t seem to apply on Roan Mountain. I went to the 6,200 foot level where the gardens are located, but there were very few blooms yet. I’ll go back in two weeks when everything is in full bloom.

The plants cover the entire horizon, and they are wild up here. Most other varieties are cultivated from these Roan Mountain bushes.

The “Balds” of Roan Mountain are treeless areas over 6,000 feet. No one really knows why these meadows have remained treeless, but the native people used them for grazing thousands of years ago. The Appalachian Trail runs along this ridge.

From the Balds, one can get a panoramic view to the northwest of the Tennessee Mountains toward Johnson City and Bristol.

Driving toward Boone, I found this Episcopal chapel high in the mountains near Valle Crucis.

The mission dates to 1842, and features amazing woodwork, especially in the church’s pipe organ.

The woodwork in the roof trusses and pews is top notch.


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