Historical homes and cabins, early primitive churches, old graveyards and many trails all serve to illustrate Cades Cove’s interesting and colorful past. Cades Cove, Tennessee, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, transports visitors back to the early 1800’s when life was harsh, but the inhabitants were steadfast in their determination to create a viable lifestyle. READ MORE
Springfest in Gatlinburg is a wonderful three month long celebration of winter’s end. It starts in early March and is marked by the amazing blooms that are found throughout the area. People come out to enjoy the warmer weather, along with some incredible activities and events that you’ll only find at this time of year.
Several of the Springfest events highlight the talented craftsmen of this area. The Mountain Quiltfest is a spectacular showcase of the Smoky Mountains best stitching from expert quilters. After enjoying the colorful displays of hand sewn quilts throughout the area, visitors can head to the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Here one will find the annual Arts and Crafts Show. Hundreds of local artists are on hand to sell their wares.
What would a Smoky Mountain Springfest be without Dolly Parton. Dolly herself is the grand marshal of her yearly homecoming parade. The Dollywood Parade includes bands, floats, celebrities, and plenty of entertainment. For those who haven’t got their fill of this talented country singer, head over to Dollywood for the Festival of Nations.
Visitors to Gatlinburg know that the local food is a big part of a vacation to the Smoky Mountains, and Springfest is no exception. Ribfest is a tasty street fair on the Parkway where one can sample ribs and sauces from several vendors. Nothing else compares, except maybe for the Bloomin’ BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.
When talking about the Springfest in Gatlinburg, we cannot forget the star of the show. The colorful array of flowers, shrubs, and trees is amazing. People decorate the Parkway with a variety of baskets and planters over flowing with blossoms, but it’s the native plant life that truly delights. The Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will introduce you to the many species. Shrubs such as Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and Azalea are at their peak this time of year. Dogwoods and other spring trees bring the forests to life, along with the spring ephemerals. These appear in late winter and are very special as they flower and are gone quickly. There is a short two month time period in which to view the ephemerals. This category includes all-time favorites like Trillium, Showy Orchids, Lady Slipper, Crested Dwarf Iris, Columbine, Fire Pink, Bleeding Heart, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Phacelia, and Little Brown Jugs.
If you are interested in viewing wildlife in their natural habitat, why not visit the Great Smoky Mountains? It is home to many species such as white-tailed deer, black bears, racoons, turkeys, woodchucks, coyotes, groundhogs, and skunks. Places like Cades Cove offer a safe environment for both tourists and animals. READ MORE
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to thousands of miles of streams, making it a memorable destination for fishermen and fisherwomen to visit. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park provides lots of public access area for visitors to explore, get away from the crowds and catch lots of fish. While the area is best known for its trout fishing, there are also large numbers of smallmouth bass fishing opportunities in the area as well. READ MORE
For the most exciting white water rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains, visitors need to look no further than the Pigeon River just outside of Gatlinburg. The Pigeon River runs from North Carolina to Tennessee and features class 3 to 4 rapids, guaranteeing an exciting adventure! Several companies in the Gatlinburg area offer guided trips down the river from early March to November, including Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Rafting in the Smokies and Big Creek Expeditions. All trips run rain or shine, since rafters will be getting wet anyway! All guests on white water rafting excursions should wear tennis shoes or water shoes secured to the feet, shorts and a t-shirt or bathing suit. READ MORE
The scenic background of the Great Smoky Mountains adds the romance for couples getting married in Gatlinburg. The city is not only a beautiful place to say your vows, it is also affordable. You will love the cozy cabins that can be reserved for your honeymoon, the amazing landscape of the mountains, and the charm and atmosphere that can only be found in Tennessee. READ MORE
There is just something about hiking during the winter months that turns ordinary hiking trails into an adrenaline rush adventure. Everything changes. Familiar scenery and recognizable landmarks turn into strangely-shaped items covered by winter’s blanket of white. Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains gives one an exhilarating experience among frozen waterfalls and pristine snow-covered forests. Visitors often make their way to this part of the country and lodge in a cabin in Gatlinburg in preparation for their excursion into this winter wonderland on foot.
Some of the best winter hiking trails anywhere are found here. Laurel Falls is a cascading waterfall that drops 85 feet, and its paved hiking trail is a little over a mile long. For those who feel up to it, an additional three miles of unpaved trail give hardy hikers the extra thrill they love. Rainbow Falls sprays an icy mist into the air during winter months that turns the area into a glistening landscape. The hiking trail here is over five miles round trip, and it would probably be gauged as moderately difficult.
Anyone who chooses to hike in the Smoky Mountains in the winter should become familiar with the special hiking tips that apply to cold weather adventures. An absolute must is to notify someone else of your plans and all of your trip details. The information should include the route you plan to take and the times you intend to depart and return from the hike. In case of an emergency or if you get lost, this vital knowledge could mean the difference between life and death. Finding a winter hiker in the quickest time possible is crucial.
Because weather conditions can drastically change so rapidly in the mountains, it is extremely important that one pays very close attention to the weather at all times. No one should cross a stream that is swollen. Without warning, a flash flood can occur and be deadly. Additionally, it can be very tempting to leave the marked trails when adventure calls. The risk, however, is not worth the danger of getting lost. Even a person who has never been lost can find himself disoriented in the vast whiteness produced by a snowfall.
The beauty of nature to be discovered during a winter hike can’t be experienced at any other time of the year. With a bit of preparation and a sense of adventure, the thrill is on.