It’s difficult to find a more beautiful place than the Smoky Mountains in June. Spring’s lush green is everywhere. Colorful wildflowers blanket the hillside. The sun sets late, slipping slowly behind the mountains as lightening bugs flicker in the evening sky. The heat and humidity of later months has yet to arrive. And, best of all, the rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Catawba Rhododendrons, native to the Southern Appalachians, bloom in late-May at lower elevations and in mid-June higher up. The purple-pink bloom lasts only for a short time but is beautiful. One of the best places to view them is at the Roan Mountain Gardens on the North Carolina side of the NC/TN state line.
Here you can wander through a naturally occurring rhododendron garden high up at an elevation of over 6000 feet. The main path is paved so it is accessible to most people. The bushes are dense and, when in bloom, make for a magical hike.
But the best part are the picnic areas. Tucked away in corners of the park are picnic areas. Moss covered tables nestled under pines and the rhodendrons. As the flowers fall they cover the ground creating a pink carpet. A fairytale setting for a romantic picnic!
You can find more information about Roan Mountain Gardens, including its exact location, here.