Roan Mountain is located in Mitchell County, near the Tennessee border. The peak of Roan rises 1,917 m (6,289 feet) above sea level at Roan High Knob.
Roan is probably most recognized for its balds (high-elevation grassy meadows) and for its rhododendron (Rhododendron
catawbiense) ?gardens,? but the site also includes significant stands of northern hardwoods and spruce-fir forests. Roan
Mountain?s aesthetic value was recognized as early as 1836 by Elisha Mitchell, who called it ?the most beautiful of all the high mountains,? and in 1841 by the pioneer botanist Asa Gray, who called it ?without doubt, the most beautiful mountain east of the Rockies.?

Ornithological Summary

Roan Mountain has among the great diversity of birds of any site in the North Carolina mountains. To date, 188 species have been recorded, 31 of which are high priority species. It is one of North Carolina's most important sites for Northern Saw-whet Owls and one of the most significant sites in the southern Appalachians for Magnolia Warbler. Other key species include: Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Red Crossbill, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Veery, Canada Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Peregrine Falcons were reintroduced to Roan in 1997. Snow Buntings are rare in North Carolina, but can be found wintering in the high, grassy balds.

Conservation Issues

Invasive pests, air pollution, reforestation and loss of bald habitats, and residential development.

Efforts are under way to maintain the balds through direct management to prevent these areas from
being overtaken by trees and shrubs. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, The Nature
Conservancy, and North Carolina State Parks are all actively acquiring land in the Important Bird Area. A location in the southwestern corner of the Roan Mountain area is under study for commercial-scale wind energy development, near the town of Spruce Pine.


Much of Roan Mountain is within the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and, on the Tennessee side, Cherokee National Forest and Roan Mountain State Park. Additional land has been purchased by The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy and transferred to the United States Forest Service. Recently, North Carolina State Parks has added the Little Yellow Mountain State Natural Area to its holdings. The site also includes private lands.


Grassy balds, rhododendron thickets, northern hardwood forest, and spruce-fir forest.

Land Use

Conservation, forestry, recreation.

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