If you’ve been to Gatlinburg or any part of East Tennessee lately, you might be wondering, “Will it ever stop raining?” In 2007, I would venture a guess that the word “drought” was the most commonly used and repeated word in the average Tennessean’s vocabulary. But, oh, how things have changed.
According to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), for the 80 days from August 1 to today, October 20 of 2009, there has been 50 days of measurable rain. It is enough to make my heart go out to those living in notoriously rainy climates like Seattle. This much rain really does require an adjustment in your attitude.
Luckily, living in the Great Smoky Mountains tends to make people happy and optimistic. So, here are some of the wonderful benefits and great things to do inspired by the bounty of our recent rain:
1. Autumn Color. According to Richard Evans from UT Forest Resources Center and Arboretum at Oak Ridge, “In the last few years, we’ve had conditions of early freezes, which tends to knock the leaves off the trees. We’ve had conditions of drought, which essentially dries the tree up and they’ll naturally lose their leaves to try to compensate for the drought conditions, so if we can hold onto the leaves, we should have a great show of fall color.” And indeed, the leaves are already significantly changed in color in the higher elevations.
2. See a Show. It isn’t raining in any of Gatlinburg’s great theaters, so take the opportunity to take in some music or comedy or both. Among our favorites is the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, Gatlinburg´s only musical comedy entertainment and the oldest Purveyor of professional, live-on-stage, original musical comedies. And, it’s the ONLY alternative to country music shows in the area.
3. Waterfalls. According to the GRSM National Park, “The Great Smoky Mountains abound with the two ingredients essential for waterfalls—ample rainfall and an elevation gradient. In the Smokies high country, over 85” of rain falls on average each year. During wet years, peaks like Mt. Le Conte and Clingmans Dome receive over eight feet of rain. This abundant rainfall trickles and rushes down the mountain sides, from high elevation to low, sometimes dropping more than a mile in elevation from the high peaks to the foothills at the park’s boundary.” If you’ve ever been wanted to see the full force of one of nature’s amazing natural waterfalls, now is the time.
4. Go to the Aquarium. You can spend a whole day in and around water–and never get wet. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies where 10,000 exotic sea creatures comprise more than 350 individual species. There are more fish in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies than there are people living in the entire town of Gatlinburg. The scenic beauty and the abundance of water all around make the town of Gatlinburg a “natural” location for a world-class aquarium, America’s most fun aquarium.
5. Happy Fish. According to R&R Fly Fishing, abundant rain “has kept the trout streams in the Smoky Mountains full and the fish are happy. We’re still experiencing water levels similar to March and April and it’s a nice change after two previous years of record drought.” Sources close to ADayInTheSmokies.com say the fishing is good as of last weekend although the water directly after a heavy rain can be a little muddy.
6. Spin your Wheels. When is the last time you went roller skating? If the idea conjures awkward images of retro fashions and braces, maybe it is time to try again. Spin City USA, the newest indoor Pigeon Forge attraction for family fun, is a state-of-the-art roller skating rink located in downtown Pigeon Forge. Spin City USA offers theme nights including retro skate and live entertainment by their own DJ for affordable fun, with holiday special events held throughout the year. When looking for fun things to do in on a rainy day, try Spin City Roller Rink.
7. Lots of Hay. During 2007, farmers in the Smokies were selling off cattle due to an inability to find hay with which to feed them. The abundant rain of 2009 has made hay plentiful; however, finding a dry day or two to harvest has been a challenge. Milk and dairy prices went through the roof in late 2007 and early 2008 due to nationwide drought issues. Will milk prices eventually go down due to abundant rain and feed for cattle? I’ve got my fingers crossed.
8. Shopping and Spa Day. You’ve got to buy all those holiday presents eventually, right? Take advantage of a rainy Gatlinburg day and take leisurely approach this year. Gatlinburg has the best of your shopping possibilities–from hand-crafted goods made by local artisans to brand names offered by local outlets. Once you’ve worn out your feet, or your wallet, head on over to About You Salon to finish out your day with well-deserved pampering. Read more about Shopping in the Smokies.
9. Smoke, but no Fire. The Great Smoky Mountains are named for the wispy smoke-like fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog, which is most common in the morning and after rainfall, is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of Southern Appalachia. And while the old addage is “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” in this case, the increased presence of wispy smoke due to rainfall really means there is less chance of fire that could destroy one of our country’s greatest treasures–The Great Smoky Mountains.
10. Take a Nap. No really, I mean it–what better way to spend a rainy day? Most of us live life in a rush from the time the alarm clock sounds in the morning to the time we set the alarm again that night. Take a nap and stuff the clock in a drawer, take off your watch and turn off your phone, start a crackling fire in your cabin, and make like a bear–hibernate. I love the cabin Above the Rest because it even has a fireplace next to the bed in the Master Suite.
Visit Gatlinburg and experience the historical sites and stories!
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.