Setting Sun at Roan Mountain

Setting Sun at Roan Mountain

The view of the setting sun from Roan Mountain as it drops into a layer of haze on the horizon

After spending a couple of days in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I made my way north toward Roan Mountain. My hope was that the rhododendron would still be in bloom as they had been the previous year. Even though I was going at the very end of spring I knew that the historic bloom time for rhododendron on Roan Mountain was in the second or third week of June.

Alas, despite a long, cold winter, the rhododendron had bloomed early and I missed them. However, another benefit of hiking up to the balds atop Roan Mountain is the unobstructed view. I had spent the better part of a day scouting out sunset locations that were closer to my base of operations, Banner Elk, North Carolina. I had struck out. Every ridge I climbed or road I drove to a summit was either obscured or was on private property. Even though Roan Mountain was forty minutes away from my hotel room, the view was glorious and there was plenty of room to move around my tripod to improve my shots.

So, I made the mile or so hike up the mountain to Round Bald and contemplated going even higher to Jane Bald. The motivation for hiking on up to Jane Bald was largely the rhodies. Since they weren’t in bloom I planted my tripod on Round Bald and began to look for images to shoot. Some of those turned out well enough, but none of the images were really unique. I decided to wait for the sunset and see if anything would materialize from it.

As it turned out, the sunset was awesome. I won’t say it was epic, but it was long, dramatic and colorful. I really enjoyed capturing some stuff of the sunset over the Appalachian Trail that I will share shortly. This is the best image of the sunset that actually features the sun, though. As you can see from this image, the sun started to drop into a layer of fog and haze at the horizon about thirty minutes before the actual sunset. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the cloud layer didn’t block the sun from creating a beautiful colored sky for the next hour or so. I’m looking forward to sharing those.

As for this image, it’s another classic example of a sunset in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although they are somewhat obscured by haze you can see layer after layer of ridges marching off into the distance. The sky is a beautiful pinkish-orange. There is enough moisture in the atmosphere to soften the glare of the sun and allow it to be captured as the golden orb that it is.

Roan Mountain is a beautiful place. It’s not easy to get to unless you live in northeast Tennessee or northwest North Carolina. If you find yourself in the area, it really is worth a visit. Enjoy.

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