Image by NASA
On August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will occur, moving on a path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, and passing through the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee around 1:30 in the afternoon. If you want to watch the eclipse, either in person or by live stream, here’s everything you need to know.
The entire western half of Great Smoky Mountains National Park falls within the travel of the eclipse, and rangers have organized some optimum-viewing areas inside the park. There are also numerous opportunities in other parts of the park and the region to catch this rare event, not seen in the U.S. since 1979.
The waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are perhaps the most memorable destinations, and one of the most popular waterfalls is Rainbow Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfall in the national park. This impressive waterfall drops its water 80 feet into LeConte Creek and is named for the rainbow that appears in its mist on sunny days.
With such a popular destination, the trail to Rainbow Falls is well trafficked. It’s also quite strenuous, so you’ll likely encounter other hikers as you make your way up the mountain, including those taking brief rest stops to catch their breath along the way. The trail is 5.4 miles Round trip (2.7 mi each way) and it’s a steady climb uphill, with an elevation gain of more than 1,500 feet.
Images by Carrie Waxler
Image courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Waterfalls are one of the most popular sights and destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Grotto Falls is unique as the only waterfall in the park that you can walk behind – the trail passes behind the water drop. It’s a relatively short hike and you can get there and back to your rental cabin in just a few hours time.
Grotto Falls is a 25-foot tall waterfall, and a good place to practice your nature photography skills – do bring a camera. You can follow the trail behind the waterfall itself to see things from a completely different perspective, and you may meet some llamas. This trail leads to Mt LeConte Lodge, and llamas are used as pack animals to carry supplies up – if you’re lucky you may see this exotic pack train passing through.
In the Great Smoky Mountains region, handcrafted items made by talented locals forms a living part of the area’s history. One great way to experience the creative culture first-hand is to visit Gatlinburg during the 42nd Annual Summer Craftsmen’s Fair, held July 14-23, 2017, in the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
The Gatlinburg Convention Center offers 150,000 square feet to hold this year’s Fair, with an estimated 200 booths filled with a vast variety of hand-crafted items, for sale or just to admire. Pick a day that fits your schedule from Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under.
Images courtesy of the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
The 4th of July comes again to America in 2017, and Gatlinburg for its fifth decade running leads the nation in its First Independence Day Parade, starting in the first minute of Tuesday the 4th, after the stroke of midnight of Monday night, July 3. This is the 42nd Annual Fourth of July Midnight Parade in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
This year, in honor of the countless local and regional heroes who came to the aid of Gatlinburg during the fires of 2016, the Grand Marshals of the parade will be firefighters, first responders and police officers who jumped into hazard without hesitation to save the town.
Shagbark resort community in Wears valley is off of Highway 321, located 7 miles from Pigeon Forge. It’s a gated community with spaciously placed cabins that share resort amenities such as a pool and tennis courts, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and park-like, wooded views for the more secluded cabins. In the area are streams and scenic walks, and the terrain is fairly steep, offering a true mountain feel.
When visiting the south, the down-home flavor of juicy barbeque is a tradition. If your travel itinerary brings you to the Smoky Mountains, you’re in for a delicious treat at the 2017 Big BBQ Bash in Maryville. Scheduled for Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, 2017, this free festival of food and fun takes place at historic Founder’s Square in the heart of downtown Maryville.
For Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge fans who may not know, Maryville is about 40 miles to the west – if you’ve been to Townsend on your way to Cades Cove, you were already halfway to Maryville. This historic town on the “quiet side of the Smoky Mountains” also loves a festival, and it keeps throwing parties to prove it!
Image courtesy of the Bash
There’s nothing quite like summer in the Smoky Mountains, and every year Gatlinburg attracts families eager for adventure and down-home charm. The city has never skimped when it comes to welcoming guests. That’s why, for the seventh year in a row, Gatlinburg’s popular Free Trolley Service on Parkway is joining the ranks of its other color-coded routes.
Yes, this special summer-only trolley service is free! If you’re visiting Gatlinburg between June 17th and August 12th, you can leave your car parked and relax as you and the family are shuttled around downtown. The trolley is handicap accessible and bike-friendly, and route maps are available in English and Spanish.
Image courtesy of City of Gatlinburg
Where to Find the Trolleys (more…)
Summer in Gatlinburg means that the hugely popular Tunes and Tales has begun, running from June 9 through August 12, 2017, and now in its 12th year. Highly talented musicians, performers, actors and artisans offer live music, storytelling and interaction in small performance groups at unknown spots along Parkway, starting at 6 pm each evening.
Image courtesy of Barbara Weibel video footage of Tunes and Tales
The annual peak viewing of the Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont in Great Smoky Mountains National Park begins May 30, 2017 and runs through June 6. This annual event is unique in North America and very rare in the world, matched only in southeast Asia. A species of firefly flashes its light in sync with thousands of its fellow fireflies.
People come from all over the world to see it, and viewing space is very limited, and controlled by the rangers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which holds the premium location to view this event. This year more than 18,000 people applied for one of the 1,800 parking spaces, and on May 10 the lucky winners were notified. For 8 days, by car, van, bus and city trolley these people are allowed into this very special event.