Category archive: Smoky Mountains

Back Roads and Shortcuts in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge get a lot of traffic, especially during the summer peak season.  Roads through Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be crowded.  Likewise, traffic along the Parkway in Pigeon Forge can be bumper-to-bumper on buys weekends.

That’s why it can be useful to know some of the alternative roads to take if the main routes are jammed.

We’re locals, so we know our way around and have developed some tricks to avoid clogged rounds during the busy season.

Here are some of our favorite shortcuts.


What’s Happening in June in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

The arrival of June brings a world of excitement to the Smoky Mountains, particularly the twin towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a music lover, or searching for family fun, June is packed with something for everyone. Here’s a glimpse of what’s going on this June 2024.

Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge (May 20 – June 1)

Pontiac aficionados won’t want to miss Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge, an event that brings together over 400 Pontiacs, from classic models to the latest editions. The event includes a car show, a swap meet, and a cruise through the scenic streets of Pigeon Forge. Held at the LeConte Center from May 29 to June 1, 2024, it’s a unique gathering for anyone with a passion for these iconic cars and a perfect opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts.

National Trails Day (June 1)

Kick off June by celebrating National Trails Day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On June 1, 2024, nature enthusiasts can join guided hikes, participate in trail maintenance activities, and attend educational programs to learn about the park’s unique flora and fauna. The event aims to raise awareness of trail preservation while offering a chance to explore some of the most scenic trails in the region.

Tastes of the Smokies (June 1)

For those who love indulging in regional cuisine, Tastes of the Smokies provides an excellent opportunity to sample the best of local flavors. Hosted on June 1, 2024, at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this event features food tastings from some of the area’s top restaurants, along with craft beer, local wine, and spirits. Live music and cooking demonstrations create a festive atmosphere, making this a must-attend event for foodies visiting the Smokies.

Mountain Quiltfest (June 3 – 6)

Stitch enthusiasts gather at the Mountain Quiltfest, a long-standing tradition that celebrates the art of quilting. From June 3 to June 6, 2024, the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge will host quilting workshops, vendor booths, and a stunning quilt show. Whether you’re an experienced quilter or just getting started, this event offers inspiration, education, and a chance to connect with fellow quilters from across the country.

Firefly Viewing at Elkmont (June 3 – June 10)

Nature lovers can witness a breathtaking spectacle at Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as thousands of synchronous fireflies light up the night sky in a mesmerizing dance. This natural phenomenon, occurring from June 3 to June 10, 2024, is so extraordinary that the park services organize a lottery system to control the number of visitors. If you’re fortunate enough to secure a spot, this magical display is an unforgettable experience.

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration (June 15 – August 11)

Dollywood’s Summer Celebration is a signature event that lights up June with extended park hours, nightly fireworks, and a variety of live entertainment. The highlight of the festival is the stunning “Sweet Summer Nights” drone and fireworks show, where colorful drones form elaborate shapes and designs in the sky, culminating in a dazzling pyrotechnic finale. Families can also enjoy exclusive live performances and summer-themed treats throughout the park.

Gatlinburg Farmers Market (Every Saturday)

Every Saturday morning, the Gatlinburg Farmers Market opens its doors to offer the freshest local produce, baked goods, and handcrafted items. It’s a family-friendly way to explore the local flavors and connect with the community. In June, the market is particularly vibrant, with strawberries, honey, and leafy greens among the seasonal highlights. Stop by between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the covered bridge near East Parkway.



What’s Happening in April in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

April in the Smoky Mountains around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is the month of wildflowers in the millions, all the venues are open, people are arriving for fun, and everything starts popping.

Wildflowers are a big thing here in the Smokies, with literally millions of brightly colored wildflowers springing up all over during April. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is normally so filled with trees and covered with canopy that the forest floor doesn’t see a lot of sun, but in springtime, before the canopy has fully leafed out, the wildflowers get their chance in the sun, for a short window of time.

We see flowers blooming everywhere inside and outside of the park during April, but we see it best each year with the expert guides of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage taking us on selected tours to the best places and the most stunning sights of these millions of exotic flowers. Registration opened in March, and the magic dates this year are May 1-4, 2024.

The snow melt brings water to the forest floor (the “understory“) for all those wildflowers to wake up, and the waters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are generally rushing and giving us good waterfalls, and river adventures – and the fishing is good. Music is in the air as special events happen, and the sound of hot rods mingles in too.

April is also the time when the national park announces the viewing dates for the annual synchronous fireflies in June, and the Lottery dates for the limited parking available.

One image courtesy of GSMNP


Immersive Theaters in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

We’ve had virtual reality for some time, but immersive theaters are fairly new – this is where the screen image moves and so do you, in your moving seat. Immersive technology continues to grow, so this roundup of all the immersive experiences available in the area will expand over time. It’s a moving target – rather like most of the sights and sounds in the immersive attractions.

Here’s a brief roundup of the immersive theaters in the area.

Image courtesy of Ripley’s 5D Adventure


Homeschooling Activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

The Smoky Mountains area of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a feast of wonders for homeschooling parents who want to pack a semester’s worth of learning into so much fun that kids will value their education forever. Even better is that many of the attractions also offer homeschool rates.

From the natural wonders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the museums and attractions of the towns, a trip to Gatlinburg packs in more opportunity for adventure and learning than anyone can take in just in the one trip. That’s why so many people make it a favorite for the kids (and parents) to return to often.


What’s Happening in February in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

February in the Smoky Mountains means the action is on the slopes for ski season, or out on the hiking trails with their special appeal in winter. It’s cold outside, but it’s cozy warm in the cabin, made for snuggling with Valentine’s Day happening and a romantic getaway in the snowy mountains on the calendar.

Read on for all that’s happening in the area in February.

Image courtesy of Ober Mountain


What’s Happening in January in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

January in the Smokies is the time for winter sports, both on the slopes and along the trails, as well as wildlife adventures, indoor attractions – and extra time in the hot tub, courtesy of shoulder-season cabin specials, for that winter getaway in the mountains.

The Winterfest and Winter Magic festivities and lights will continue all through January in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, and the towns are bustling as ever through the winter activities.

Some images courtesy of Ober Mountain