Nestled off the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 16 minutes or 10.7 miles from downtown Blowing Rock is the Rough Ridge Lookout. Rough Ridge is just off mile marker 303 on Tanawha Trail and accessible via a wooden walkway. It offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It is truly a treasure in the area and needs to be protected. Due to visitors leaving the trail for photos, wildlife is being trampled and destroyed at an alarming rate. In response to this the Blue Ridge Parkway is recruiting Rough Ridge Rovers. A Rough Ridge Rover is a volunteer who will educate visitors on how to recreate responsibly for their own safety and the safety of the natural plant species, some of which are in peril of extinction.
The National Park Service released this on their website:
“The National Park Service is actively recruiting interested volunteers for a new program based along the Rough Ridge area of the Tanawha Trail, near milepost 303 in the vicinity of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The goal of this new volunteer role is to educate park visitors about recreating responsibly for their own safety, as well as that of globally rare species found in this area. The rocky outcrops at Rough Ridge are home to critically imperiled plant species that are commonly trampled by park visitors who venture into closed areas for photos and views.
Rough Ridge Rover volunteers will be asked to spend a minimum of one, 3–4-hour shift per week on the trail through the busy summer and fall season talking to park visitors, answering questions, and serving as an important on-site presence. Ideal volunteers should enjoy working with people, have a basic knowledge of Appalachian plants, animals, and the park itself, and feel comfortable working independently on-trail, away from their vehicle for several hours at a time. Volunteers will be provided with training, a volunteer uniform, and all equipment needed to complete their roving assignment successfully.
Interested volunteers can learn more and apply at volunteer.gov or contact the park’s volunteer office. Support for this program comes from the Parkway’s philanthropic partner, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.”