Smoky Mountain Tips

A blog for people who love the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Whether you're a local from Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, or just coming to visit, this is your forum for Smoky mountain news and Tennessee tips and tales.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #18 - Pigeon Forge Attractions

Today few would likely believe that a Smoky Mountain resort city like Pigeon Forge began as a small farming and lumber community. And yet that is the humble beginning of this now thriving Tennessee town. Long before the surrounding area became a national park, Pigeon Forge was a quaint little village. Today Pigeon Forge is an exciting entertainment capital that offers visitors to the Smoky Mountains region, some "man-made" recreational fun to go along with a trip to the unforgettable Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It was way back in 1930 that the federal government first christened the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. By then it had already become well recognized for its unique beauty and for its unparalleled diversity of life. In latter years, the fame of the Park grew all around the world. Eventually the Smoky Mountains region obtained international recognition as a "international biological preserve". And since then, the fame of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has only increased. Before long this reputation became the fuel that spurned the economic and cultural development of Pigeon Forge- located in the very heart of the Smoky Mountains. By the 1980's Pigeon Forge had grown into well recognized Tennessee tourist center.

Today Pigeon Forge has even more to offer those vacationing in the Smoky Mountains. The foremost attraction, beyond the majesty of the Pigeon Forge mountain cabins that are scattered throughout the area, is the Dollywood theme-park; named after Pigeon Forge's most famous resident. This exciting park offers thrill rides, an enormous water park for the kids called Splash Country, and plenty of Smoky Mountain charm. Other exciting recreational options include: the Speedzone FunPark, the Dixie Stampede, the Smoky Mountain River Run, and Bluff Mountain Adventures. For those looking for more "relaxed" recreation, historic landmark sites like "the Old Mill and General Store" - which dates back all the way back to when settlers first christened Pigeon Forge, are also available in Pigeon Forge.

Another real highlight of Pigeon Forge recreation is the thriving theater district. There are a multitude of theatres to choose from- covering every form of family-friendly entertainment imaginable. Some of the most popular theatres and shows include: the Comedy Barn, the Black Bear Jamboree, the Grand Illusion Show, the Ole Smoky Hoedown Show and the Louise Mandrell Music Theatre. Each of these shows offers something unique to visitors of Pigeon Forge. And this list is just a brief taste of all the Smoky Mountains entertainment fun Pigeon Forge has to offer.

So if you're already planning a vacation getaway to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, make sure you make a trip into Pigeon Forge while you're here. The theatres, theme-parks, museums, and historical sites of Pigeon Forge will make your Smoky Mountain vacation just that much more of a success. And with downtown Pigeon Forge being only minutes away from the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it simple to pop back and forth between the city center, the mountain trails of the Park itself, and the comfortable confines of your Smoky Mountain cabin.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #17: Smoky Mountain Log Cabins

There are many reasons why people keep coming back to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, year after year. The mountains themselves are the major draw. These gently rolling hills fill the horizon in local cities like Gatrlinburg, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Townsend. But perhaps the best location of all to view the glory of the Smoky Mountains is from the deck of your own Tennessee log cabin. These mountain cabins have become a draw all their own. The beautiful design of these log cabins only compliment the all-natural beuaty of the surrounding hills.

Just as there are many reasons why people vacartion in the Smokies in the first place; there are also many reasons why people choose a Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabin to lodge here. A hotel can be had anywhere. Almost everyone has stayed in a hotel before. They may be comfortable, but they're also predictable. A mountain log cabin on the other hand is an entirely different experience. Vacationers don't sacrifice anything in comfort, but they also gain the rustic beauty that really sets these mountain cabins and chalets apart from the other accommodation options.

There are a number of ways to relax and enjoy the Smoky Mountains in the comfortalbe confines of a Tennessee cabin. A favorite for many visitors is a relaxing rest in a cabin jacuzzi. What better whay to enjoy the view than from within a hot tub situated on the deck of your cabin- directly overlooking the spectacular vista of the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Beyond this, there are games tables, entertinment centers and comfortable lounging chairs to unwind with. While these Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabins may be rustic and authentic, they're also fully equipped for all sorts of recreational fun. This combination makes a Smoky Mountain log cabin experience truly second to none.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #16: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park - A National and International Preserve

When it comes to recognition and fame, just as with people, there are some park areas that are known regionally, a smaller number know nationally, and a select few known throughout the world. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the latter elite. Its natural beauty and stunning diversity make it not only one of America’s most treasured national parks, but also one of the most treasured natural preserve areas in the world; so much so in fact, that the United Nations has designated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as an International Biosphere Preserve.

In the more densely populated eastern section of the United States, the Smoky Mountains is the largest protected landmass east of the Mississippi River.The rich variety of life found here is the great calling card of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What is it about the Smokies that make it so diverse as compared with other mountainous regions on the continent and around the world? Well, mountains, weather and glacial movement are the major factors. Interestingly enough, it is the difference in climate between the highest and lowest points of the mountains that make this possible. Those plants and animal species that are accustomed to a more northern climate live at the higher elevations in the park, while those accustomed to a southern climate make their home at the base of the mountains.

It is hard for most people to imagine that at one time the Smoky Mountains were as high and jagged as the Rockies to the West. The reason of course why this is no longer the case is- age. These are amongst the oldest mountains in the world. Erosion has brought them to a more “humble” elevation as compared with newer mountain ranges. During the last ice age, many species of animals retreated into these hills to avoid the entrenchment of the ice flows. The ice flow that came down from the North never quite got as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina and as a result, many species who had dwelt more to the North ended up making their new home in the Smoky Mountains.

The Smoky Mountains provide natural habitat for a greater number of tree species than any other region in North America. Among the 100 or so species of native trees found in the Smokies, many of these are old growth trees (especially treasured for their connection to the distant past). Nearly 95% of the park is blanketed in trees. In addition, over 1400 flowering plant species and 4,000 species of non-flowering plants are considered native to the park. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to the extremely rare “Lungless Salamanders” and also home to over 200 bird species, 50 native fish populations, 66 mammals, 39 reptile species, and some 43 amphibian species. It is the hot, humid summers and high precipitation rates in the winter months that allow for this lush growth. Truly this National Park is a treasure not only for Americans but for everyone who calls Planet Earth their “natural habitat”.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #15: Smoky Mountain Fishing

If you're looking to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in order to do some fishing- you won't be dissapointed! The Park contains approximately 2,115 miles of streams full of several species of fish. In addition to allowing visitors to enjoy fishing in the Park, there is also a mandate to protect what has become one of the very last wild trout habitats on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you will find a broad array of angling opportunities; everything from very remote, headwater trout streams, to large, coolwater streams carrying small-mouth bass. The good news is that most streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park remain pretty much at their full carrying capacity for fish throughout the year.

Any time of year is a good one for fishing in the Smokies because fishing is permitted 365 days a year. Daily fishing times run from half an hour before official sunrise to half an hour after what is designated the official sunset. The Park allows fishing in most of the streams within the Park boundaries. There are a few posted streams closed to fishing in order to protect threatened fish species. Detailed information, including an exhaustive list of fishing regulations and a map of waters where fishing is and is not permitted, can be found at any of the Park ranger stations and/or visitor centers.

To fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you must first buy a fishing permit from either the state of Tennessee or North Carolina. Only one of the two permits is necessary for fishing throughout the Park territory- regardless of which state you're actually fishing in. It is important to understand that fishing licenses and permits cannot be obtained in the Park itself, but rather must be purchased in nearby Smoky Mountain towns such as Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, etc... In addition, there special permits neccesary if you're fishing in either Cherokee or Gatlinburg.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #14: Smoky Mountain Weddings and Honeymoons

There are many things that cities like Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain region are famous for. The list of popular recreational activities just keeps growing over time. Yet another activity or event that the area has become famous for is weddings. Many couples find that nothing quite compares to getting married in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

When it comes to weddings, Gatlinburg is king. Outside of Las Vegas, there is probably no more popular vacation destination in the United States when it comes to weddings. And as the popularity of Smoky Mountain weddings has increased, so to has the businesses that have built up in this region of Eastern Tennessee to meet the market. Though there may be a thousand and one things to plan for a wedding, businesses in the area can help make the process relatively simple.

In local Eastern Tennessee cities it’s easy to connect with people and businesses ready to help make every aspect of your wedding a success. Whether you’re looking for floral arrangers, licensed ministers (1-877-237-9055), limousine rental companies, caterers, cake bakers, Church rentals, wedding chapels, or what have you, the area is packed full of quality and experienced service providers.

The first draw of course is the Smoky Mountains themselves. People are looking to get married with the beautiful Tennessee mountains as their perfect backdrop. It makes for a perfect picture. Speaking of which, there are a host of photographers and photo studios in the area that can help snap the shots on your big day.

For many couples coming to the Smoky Mountains, the honeymoon in the Smokies is just as important as the wedding itself. The area is a perfect, romantic getaway for couples in love. A stay in a log cabin near Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg is perhaps the best way to cap off your wedding experience here. Whether it’s the wonder of the Smoky Mountain vistas from every window, or the prospect of cozying up next to a blazing fire as evening sets in, a Smoky Mountain cabin is a Honeymooners delight.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #13: Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For some who visit the region of the Great Smoky Mountains, a stay in local cities such as Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Seymour, Townsend and/or Sevierville is the goal. For others, a majestic log cabin retreat in the foothills of the mountains feels more "all-natural" and is a better fit. For others, being even closer to nature is the key. And for those brave folks there is a plentitude of camping available in the area. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park itself has all sorts of camping available to visitors of the area; everything from established and fully-equipped sites, to back-country camping for those who really want to "rough it".

For those looking to have the best of both worlds- (i.e. a camping experience with the addition of restrooms, picnic tables, fire grates, etc...) the National Park service has developed campgrounds in ten separate locations throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. These sites are located in Abrams Creek, Cades Cove, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Elkmont, Deep Creek, Look Rock, Smokemont, and Balsam Mountain. These sites will give you the "next to nature" experience you're looking for with the aid of more "civilized" luxuries.

However, if you're the sort who considers this form of camping a "sham", there is also backcountry camping at your disposal. For those who want to try this, a free backcountry permit is required. And while this is the backcountry, overnighters must stay in designated sites and shelters- for the sake of preserving the area and preventing erosion. To say in the shelters and some of the tented areas, a reservation is required. If you have further questions about backcountry camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can contact the backcountry office at (865)436-1297.

If this is your first time doing backcountry camping be sure and be prepared. That means getting a local weather forecast before going in and bringing proper supplies along (adequate food, clothing, water, and safety equipment). And lastly, remember this is a wilderness area. That means this is natural habitat for wild animals including bears and cougars. So keep a look out when you're hiking! With that in mind, get out there and enjoy the great outdoors and the Tennessee backcountry. You just might like it so much that you won't want to come back to civilization!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tennessee Cabin Tip #12: Rafting in the Smoky Mountains

Outdoor fun is the name of the game for those visiting the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. While some spend time shopping and enjoying the recreational attractions in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Townsend, most come here to experience the outdoor wonder that is the Smoky Mountains.

Beyond hiking and sightseeing, a less common, though equally enjoyable outdoor experience is a white water rafting trip in the Smokies. There's nothing quite like rafting down a raging river such as the famous Big Pigeon River- with the glory of the Smoky Mountains rushing past you. This kind of adventure is a great "hands-on" way to experience the Tennessee wilderness.

There are several rafting companies that will take you "down-river". Don't worry; while the trip might be breathtaking, it is very safe. These professionals will get you wet, but they'll also get you home! Is this your first time? No worries. There is no experience necessary. Your expert guides will do most of the work. Your job is to come and have some white water fun. Children must generally be 8 years of age or older to take part in these rides.

If you are a family with younger children, or you just prefer to "take it easy", there are also more "gentle" trips to take advantage of as well. A float trip is a great way to navigate the river at a more leisurely pace. The float trip is available to anyone 3 years old and up. A white water rafting ride is a great way for your family to enjoy the Smoky Mountains from a fresh, and all natural, perspective.