Rockyfest 2023
Tdnw5s4v rocky face banner image

Alexander County

Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area

Located in northern Alexander County, Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area was the site of a former rock quarry. The 330-acre passive park is primarily undeveloped and considered environmentally significant with numerous rare species of flora and fauna. The park was designed to incorporate leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) design principals by providing innovative stormwater features, sustainable building materials, and minimal impact on ecosystems, while also utilizing existing site features for recreational opportunities. The park includes a community building, picnic areas, rock climbing, camping, miles of hiking trails, an outdoor classroom, a children’s adventure playground, wetlands with boardwalks, a wetland restoration area, two wildlife observation decks, and an outdoor amphitheater. Educational signage was added to identify unique habitats and plant species along portions of the surrounding nature trails.

Alexander county, nc

The Challenge

Rocky Face Mountain has a rich history. In the 1920s through 1940s, the land was used as a quarry site and for agricultural purposes. In 2003, the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program signed an agreement that put Rocky Face Mountain on the North Carolina Registry of Natural Heritage Areas. They received this designation for the unique qualities of the land. Because of the beautiful land, the most important goal for both Alexander County and McGill was preserving the integrity of the land. Both parties wanted as minimal an impact as possible on the environment. The goal was to enhance the land rather than transform it.

Our Solution

To accomplish this goal, McGill utilized LEED design principles such as creative stormwater features and sustainable construction materials. McGill designed a “natural playground” that utilizes the natural slope of the land. This area includes a slide and a zipline that is loved by so many visitors to Rocky Face Park. Six miles of trails were created to give visitors the opportunity to explore and reach the summit of the mountain. McGill designed an outdoor amphitheater and classroom to allow for many different educational and entertainment activities. A community building added to the site can be used to host events and contain information about the park. To see an incredible view, the wildlife observation decks are a must visit area of the park.

The Results

McGill’s design for Rocky Face Recreational Area enhanced the beauty of the land. McGill helped Alexander County obtain $702,882 in Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grants for Phases 1 and 2 of the project. Due to the unique setting and variety of recreational amenities offered, such as hiking, rock climbing, educational programs, and annual festivals. This facility has developed into a regional attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Children will have an amazing time playing at the natural playground. The park receives approximately 200,000 visitors each year and attracts around 2,000 attendees to RockyFest, a festival that highlights the features of the park, each year. RockyFest began in 2013, just one year after the park opened. RockyFest has something for everyone, but primarily highlights rock climbing demonstrations at the quarry face. There is great music with a dancing stage, as well as activities for kids, including a trackless train, bouncy houses, and face painters. Rocky Face Recreation Area has something for everyone and showcases the beauty of North Carolina’s landscape and wildlife.

“Rocky Face has provided the community with a safe place to participate in outdoor exercise, outdoor play for children, as well as a place to relax outdoors, all of which improves mental and physical well-being. It has direct and indirect positive economic impacts on the community. It has provided a space where people gather and interact together. Most importantly, not only does Rocky Face provide environmental benefits by protecting the land from development but it also provides a place where folks can learn about the environment and how important it is to protect areas for future generations.”

  • Alisha Stamey
    Park Director

Img 20220423 124002778 hdr

Rocky Face Mountain Park has over 200,000 visitors each year, 2,000 visitors to RockyFest, and has received $702,882 in PARTF grants.




Innovation icon


Quality icon


Project Services Included:

  • PARTF funding assistance
  • Master planning
  • Design
  • Bidding and award
  • Construction administration
  • LEED-applicable design
Let's Start a Conversation

Let's Start a Conversation

Let us know how we can assist you by sending a message in the text box below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.