Category archive: Smoky Mountains

Total Eclipse 2017 in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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.

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Rainbow Falls Trail

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

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Grotto Falls: Easy to Reach, Easy to Love

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.

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Shagbark Community Resort in Wears Valley

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.

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2017 Big BBQ Bash in Maryville

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

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Synchronous Fireflies 2017

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.

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Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival 2017 at Dollywood

It’s that time of year, again, when beautiful weather, festivals, food, and fun are on the calendar of events in Tennessee. One upcoming event has the winning combination of barbeque, bluegrass, and the excitement of Dollywood added into the mix. For non-stop fun, entertainment, and palate-pleasing barbeque, make plans to attend the food and music fest May 26 through June 4, 2017.

Image courtesy of Dollywood

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Scottish Festival and Games 2017 in Maryville, TN

The annual Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games takes place on the campus of historic Maryville College, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, on Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, 2017. This unique Tennessee event will kick off with the opening gala on the evening of May 19, and the festival will run all weekend, presenting fun for all ages.

Maryville is about 40 miles to the west of Gatlinburg. If you’ve made to Townsend, perhaps on your way to Cades Cove, or for that fun town’s own festival, then you’re already halfway to Maryville. The Scottish Festival offers a compelling reason to go the extra miles.

Images courtesy of Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games

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Bloomin Barbeque and Bluegrass 2017 – Sevierville Street Festival

Pack your dancing boots and a healthy appetite and cruise over to Sevierville, TN for the town’s yearly Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival! This two-day fest is a great street party held on Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, 2017 in downtown Sevierville, just a few miles up the road from Pigeon Forge.

The festival is packed to the brim with family friendly activities and great tasting food. And music – as you stroll past the participating booths, you can enjoy some of the best traditional and modern bluegrass and country music the Smokies has to offer.

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Images courtesy of the Festival

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Townsend Spring Festival 2017

The Townsend Spring Festival fills the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies” with bluegrass music for 2 days on May 5-6, 2017. The air also fills with the smell of food and the sights of arts & crafts, children’s attractions, and a super friendly and relaxed crowd of happy families and friends celebrating this beautiful area at the gateway to Cades Cove.

townsend

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