Mountain Freshness, Mountain Air...
No matter which direction you go as you leave downtown Elizabethton Tennessee you travel in an upward direction. Traveling south on highways US 321 & US 19 you head up Roan Mountain, the highest mountain in Tennessee and almost immediately you find you’re surrounded by National Forest. Thick growth and undergrowth soon turns to pine and mountain laurel with moisture coming out of the rocks on the side of the roadways and small trickles and pools of water with ferns and wild flowers and wild berries everywhere as the road meanders climbing higher and higher up the side of the mountains that border Tennessee and North Carolina. Small cabins and farms on the hillside dot the landscape and you realize you are in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and nearing the eastern Continental Divide.
The Annual Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival
You pass small communities with a church steeple pointing skyward and maybe a hardware or general store by the side of the road along with a rural post office and billboards that speak of a mountain gathering soon nearby. You lower your car window and notice a crisp freshness to the mountain air. The scent of fresh flowers and the birds are chirping, calling you to step out and experience this fresh aroma that you don’t have in the cities back home. You are experiencing the call of the mountains and the smiles and the spring in the step of the local people as they scurry to and fro are in preparation of the area’s most glorious event. You find yourself in the small mountain community of Roan Mountain TN (population – around a 1000). The outside air is similar to a mild summers day north of the US border into Canada. The people are preparing for a Ho-Down, a festival and you find you’re just in time for the Annual Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival which has happened like this for over sixty years.
Come and See...
In a natural setting of rich meadows of rare moss and heather, surrounded by forests of evergreen balsam, and crowned overhead by the bluest of blue skies, the gardens are breath-taking in their beauty. Towering above the Appalachian valleys, the gardens are often actually above the clouds, giving rise to the name "Cloudland."
"It is the most beautiful of the high mountains... with Carolina at its feet on one side and Tennessee on the other, and a green ocean of mountains rising in tremendous billows around her."
-Dr. Elisha Mitchell,
(for whom nearby Mt. Mitchell is named)
You may just want to check out this link before you leave on your trip… http://www.roanmountain.com/gardens.htm
Come and enjoy with your loved ones and friends the joy of the mountains in the springtime and once you do, you’ll come again and again, maybe next year for you won’t be able to see it all in one trip even though you try.