The month of June in the Smoky Mountains starts the bustle of summer, and opens up countless opportunities for fun in the great outdoors – from fireflies to fishing, and from festivals to free trolleys, as well as flame azaleas in the higher elevations.
The Free Trolley? Well, all the Gatlinburg trolleys are now free. We used to announce in June each year that Gatlinburg was running a free trolley up and down Parkway through summer, and that was fun news, but it’s all turned fun now, with the city’s decision to run a free system. Pigeon Forge, which covers larger distances, still charges, but the fares are still the cheapest thing in America today. See our guide to the Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Trolleys. And read on for the insider lowdown on what’s happening in June.
Summer means hitting the trails, but some people may have the Wine Trail in mind, in which case the June-long Candy Fest may be of interest. It’s free candy for the kids and wine sampling for the adults, and it happens all month at the various wineries along the trail – see our Rocky Top Wine Trail guide for more.
And if Moonshine is your preference, Ole Smoky Distillery is kicking off the month with its one-day Shine Fest on June 1. But keep a clear head for the Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge car show and swap meet the following day, Friday, June 2, held at the LeConte Center as always.
The first weekend of June kicks off a number of events, on June 3, which is National Trails Day this year. Up in Sevierville, the Smallmouth King Bass Fishing Tournament on the Little Pigeon River occurs on the Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4. It’s catch and release, with prizes for the top anglers (in a seriously skilled competition). PS..if it’s trout you want, June also offers you that chance – read on.
Meanwhile in Townsend, the Smoky Mountains Heritage Center holds its annual Tastes of the Smokies event in the evening – it’s a benefit for the Center, so tickets are pricey, but if you want to support this repository of history, it promises a great time.
The viewing dates announced by Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see the synchronous fireflies for 2023 are June 4-11. If you were lucky enough to win a parking pass in the lottery held in April, this is your time to reap the reward. This extremely rare occurrence only happens in the Smoky Mountains in all of the Americas. It’s very hard to photograph – let us know if you do manage to capture the scene – and is an unforgettable experience. There are some places in the area outside of the park’s designated spot where you can catch the action, but people keep those places secret.
Back indoors for a while, the annual Mountain Quiltfest is happening June 6-8 (classes begin on the 5th). Long a feature of March, when the world celebrates its Quilting Day, this Pigeon Forge event has now moved to June. It remains a huge draw, and if you thought quilts were unexciting, it’s time to check out the creations on display at this remarkable event. As always, an appraiser will be available to assess your own quilt if you’d like to know its value.
Back in the outdoors, the Tennessee state parks offer a license-free opportunity to fish the highly acclaimed waters of the state, on the Saturday of the first full week in June (June 10, 2023). This is open to everyone, and the week that follows is for children 15 and younger. Note, these are the state parks, NOT the national park – see the Tennessee Parks Fishing site, and check out our own guides to Fishing in the national park and the area.
Also, if the kids are interested in learning more about fly fishing, and craving trout, the Institute at Tremont sponsors the John Thurman Trout Adventure Camp on June 19-24, which aims to educate young people about conservation and responsible stewardship through fly fishing.
Back on the street, in Gatlinburg the summer Tunes and Tales will fire up on June 19 and last into August. This highly popular feature of taking a stroll along Parkway presents music and theater around any corner at any time.
Elsewhere in the town and area during this month of June, the mountaintop venues such as Anakeesta are putting on their summer programs, and Dollywood switches from its spring festival to its summer celebration. Many of the attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer summer season treats, and we see spiritual and sports conventions and competitions passing through town.
Temperatures at street level start to rise in June, into the eighties, and the mountains beckon for a cooler time. The spring wildflowers have ended in the lower elevations, but become brilliant up on the mountain, especially with the flame azaleas.
Those higher elevations sometimes take hiking boots to get to, but the national park is surprisingly accessible for everyone in many ways – rangers have done a wonderful job of letting everyone share in the pleasure of nature. See our guides to Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but don’t be daunted if your walking capacity is limited: there are many fantastic Outdoor Activities both in and outside of the park, and we have several tip-sheets and guides to Easy Outdoor Adventures to give you the inside track.
So here’s hoping you have a great June in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon area of the Smoky Mountains!