Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland

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Don’t let the winter months scare you from going outside, there is still so much to be seen. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is brimming with beauty, even in the colder months. Several hikes will give you luxurious views of snowy mountains, icy falls and even traces of wildlife!snowycreek_ig

Alum Cave Bluffs is a 5 mile, round trip hike that sits off of Newfound Gap Road. The trail has recently been restored for better access to hikers. During the winter months, the drips from the Bluff turn into icicles, so watch out! If you continue from the Bluffs up another 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the summit of Mt. LeConte and run into some amazing views. This is a difficult hike, especially in the snow so don’t forget to come prepared for anything.

Another Local favorite is Porters Creek Trail. This kid-friendly, 2 mile hike leads into what used to be a small farmstead. You will see several buildings and other structures still standing from the early 1900s. Follow the trail left up to Fern Branch Falls for a magnificent view of the 60-foot frozen waterfall. laurel250xv

Laurel Falls is a paved, relatively easy trail, but one of the most traveled in the area. The trail is kid-friendly, although it does have a few steep drop offs along the way. In the winter, the Falls will ice over providing you with the perfect winter snapshot.

Our favorite winter hike would have to be Rainbow Falls. This 5.5 mile hike is rated as moderate to difficult, climbing a total of 1,700 feet. This trail sends you right through Bear Country so always keep an eye out for wildlife, even though they usually hibernate through winter. The 80-foot Falls usually boasts a beautiful rainbow, hence the name, although in the winter months it will freeze, creating a gorgeous hourglass shaped ice sculpture! You really have to see this one for yourself!

Remember that preparation is key for hiking, especially in the winter. Some guidelines to ensuring your safety include carrying a map of the area, informing another person(s) where you are going and when you plan to return, researching terrain or trail conditions and staying up to date on weather and weather alerts. Don’t forget to bring key items such as water, food, a flashlight, trekking poles for stability, an emergency blanket and other items you may need in case any unforeseen issues arise. Always dress in layers and wear adequate shoes or boots. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times and always practice Leave No Trace principles.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. 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, Pigeon Forge, and Smoky Mountain areas.

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A Smoky Mountain Winter

 

Winterfest is in full effect here in the winterfest lights.jpgGreat Smoky Mountains. Everywhere you turn you are filled with the joy of the holidays, lights throughout the city and holiday decor on every corner will definitely put you in the mood!

Take the Trolley Ride of Lights to sit back, relax and enjoy all the lights in the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley. The journey takes you all around town to view the one of a kind displays put out by the city. The new LED lighting provides a bright blast of new and old scenes that portray what Winter means to us, showing off native wildlife to the Great Smoky Mountains as well as holiday themed scenes and some classics from the last 23 years.

 

dollywood-chapelDollywood has all the classic shows going on through their own celebration, Smoky Mountain Christmas. Featuring shows including It’s A Wonderful Life, O’ Holy Night, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas and more, you’re sure to get in the spirit of Christmas! Stop by Santa Land with the kids for crafts, huge toys and of course a visit with Santa and meet Rudolph and his Friends too! The Parade Of Many Colors closes the night with a spectacular show of lights, floats, characters and more.
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Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is a Christmas light show unlike one you’ve ever seen before. It is the largest drive-through, fully computerized, LED light and music show of its kind! You just pull up and tune your radio station to the one provided and start your drive through a magical wonderland of moving lights that are synced to the music. After your tour, stop by Santa’s Workshop for several attractions including a petting zoo, pony rides, inflatables, crafts, Christmas movies and of course pictures with Santa! They are located at the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium.

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For over thirty years The Christmas Place has give us the opportunity to enjoy Christmas all year long and is now the South’s largest Christmas shopping village. With over 60 themed Christmas Trees, there is definitely something for everyone! They have everything you may need for Christmas, including decorations, presents, collection items and many others! You can even personalize an ornament for each member of the family. Now that would be a Christmas tradition you wouldn’t forget!

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. 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, Pigeon Forge, and Smoky Mountain areas.

Fall Family Fun!

Gatlinburg is in full swing with smell of the seasons in the air! The colors are changing and providing the perfect backdrop for family fun activities! There is no shortage of things to do here in the Smokies, and we will let you in on the scoop.

 

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Why not plan a trip out to Kyker Farms in Sevierville for an afternoon on the farm? This family operated farm is located in Sevierville, TN. They offer a multitude of activities for all ages. Enjoy a relaxing hayride around the farm or take a stroll through the pumpkin patch. They even have three different corn mazes to choose from. For the kids they offer many different activities such as a playground, petting zoo, and jump pad.

 

Ober Gatlinburg is kicking off their Oktoberfest. Running through October 30, 2016, they will have The Bavarian Fun Makers Oompah Band performing traditional folk songs and dances outfitted in authentic lederhosen. They will also be serving traditional Bavarian food in the restaurant. Also, look for the Bier Garten, which will be featuring different beers to patrons 21 or older. For more information visit their website here.

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Take a hike (or drive!) through the park to experience the wonderful views that the Smokies has to offer. With the fall colors setting in, it’s the perfect time to get out there and enjoy all that nature has to offer. A few of our favorite places to drive through and snap some photos are Clingman’s Dome, Foothills Parkway, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Some great hikes that can lead you to and through the foliage are Andrew’s Bald, Charlie’s Bunion, and of course Mt. LeConte.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals
located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

 

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Spring has sprung in the Great Smoky Mountains! With the spring rains filling the rushing river and the flora starting to come alive, now is the time to come experience what the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is all about.

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The rain has lent a hand in shaping our areas most beautiful waterfalls. In fact, here in the park we can get so much rainfall that it’s nearly equal to that of a temperate rain forest! While the water is still gushing, come see the numerous waterfalls in our area! If you’re not ready to brave the elements just yet, we have a few autumn waterfall 250x vertwaterfalls you can drive right up to. These include The Sinks, Meigs Falls, and Place of a Thousand Drips. If you’re not afraid of getting out there, then stop by our personal favorites. Some of the shorter trails include Laurel Falls, Indian Creek Falls, and Grotto Falls. If you’re ready to make a day of it, check out Rainbow Falls or Ramsey Cascades. Don’t forget to prepare with hiking essentials before you go! If you need some tips check out one of our other blog posts here.

 

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With the rain feeding the river, the river is feeding the Park. It’s still early in the season but the blooming has begun! The spring ephemerals that are popping up now won’t be here long, they die off around the end of April, so you’ll have to hurry if you want to catch them! The most prominent in this area would be the trillium, of which we have 10 different species. Several types of orchids, fire pink, bleeding heart, and violets are a few other the other prominent ephemerals also. The Red Maple’s flowers will be a brilliant red along with the bright white of the Dogwood trees.

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We’re kicking off the season with our 66th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage starting April 19 and going through April 23, 2016. These five days are full of over 150 guided walks, instructional workshops, and demonstrations. Sign up here if you would like to attend this years Pilgrimage. We do recommend either downloading the wildflower checklist or purchasing a wildflower book for the area.

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Snowed In? Snow Day!

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Here in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, we experience our fair share of snow days. While getting out of school or work is exciting, spending the day inside can be a bore. We’ve come up with some activities that are perfect for a good snowy day.

Make Snow Cream!

Snow Cream is a delicious treat that you can’t get all year long. Kids 10890636_1572602209620477_2098604635_nlove getting involved in the kitchen -especially if they get to bring snow in the house! All you need is milk, vanilla extract, and some clean, fresh snow. We recommend setting a big bowl out once the snow starts falling. Once you mix everything together add in any toppings you would like. Sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut, and honey are some favorites.

Do Yoga!

Yoga is a great way to warm up on a snow day. Practicing yoga has many benefits. These include increased blood flow, boost in immune system, boosts metabolism, and much more. Loosen up after walking around with all those layers from playing in the snow. Try out some basic poses like the Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, and Downward Facing Dog.

Make it a Spa Day!

There’s nothing more relaxing than a day at the spa, but no one wants to trek out into the snow to do so! Grab some ingredients from your pantry and put together some DIY spa treatments. Combine coconut oil, honey, and lemon juice for a fantastic face mask. For a hair mask use 1/2 a ripe avocado and mix it with coconut oil and vitamin E oil. After throwing snowballs all day, your hands will want some love too. Mix coarse sugar with lemon juice and coconut oil for a silky hand scrub.

Set up a Photoshoot!

10525552_347616358767131_1087180128_nGrab any type of camera and head for the pretty white blanket that has covered your yard. Snow makes for such a fun backdrop to candid
photos. Have someone snap several pics of you tossing up the snow,
trudging through it, shaking a tree to cover yourself, the possibilities are endless! The lighting on snow days is perfect for pictures so even if you’re just using your phone, there’s bound to be a good one!

Build a Fort!

Tap into your inner child and break out the extra pillows and sheets for nostalgic purposes. Everyone loved building forts as kids and now that we understand construction a little better it’s a great time to get your creative juices flowing. You can get really creative with all of those left over boxes from Christmas and put together a cardboard fort. Just attach some tape to secure them together. Mr. McGroovy’s sells boxes of rivets to help bring your creation to life. They also have tons of downloadable plans if you’re not up for designing your own.

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Play Outside!

Of course playing in the snow is the best part about snow days! Step your snowball game up by using a ball press. You can also get a snowball launcher to have even more fun! Build a snowman, snow bear, or any other snow creature that may be native to your area. Grab a sled or a tube and find the nearest hill to spend hours entertained or even just plop down and make a snow angel.

 

Now that you have a day full of activities planned, go ahead and get started! Enjoy your day full of snow!

 

 

LOGO with text This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Top Ten Ways to Celebrate July 4th in the Smokies in 2014

Stay in a Smoky Mountain Cabin During July 4th Holiday!The 4th of July is a prime week to come to the Smokies! With so much to do and that great summer weather, who wouldn’t want to join us?! Four different options for fireworks, a variety of music, good food, summer sales, roller coasters, and more! There’s so much to do, you can’t possibly do it all in one day. Why not come for a week?!

Gatlinburg 4th of July Parade1. First Independence Day Parade in the Nation

“The first Independence Day Parade in the Nation marks its 39th year by honoring Military Veterans and other U.S. Military Heroes.  The annual Gatlinburg 4th of July Midnight Parade leads off at 12:00AM (midnight) on Friday, July 4, 2014 to the cheers of close to 100,000 spectators lining the streets of the City for this award winning parade.” Get there early in the day with your lawn chairs to claim a good spot! Traffic will be tight, so it may be a good idea to find a parking spot early on July 3, or park at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center at Wiley Oakley Rd just before you come into town, and ride the trolley (free during the summer!) into town.

River Raft Regatta2. Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta

“This year’s fun-filled Fourth of July celebration in Gatlinburg will feature the always-competitive River Raft Regatta, the unmanned kind. Anything floatable can be entered starting at 10 a.m. at the Christ in the Smokies bridge on River Road and will end at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There are two categories: Trash (not hand-made) and Treasure (hand-made) – awards will go to the top 3 in each category. Additionally, the “Judges Choice” award will go to the most creative “raft.”  Awards will be given to the oldest and the youngest participant. Registration begins at 10 am and the race will start at 12:00 pm.  Trophies will be supplied by the Gatlinburg Recreation Department.”

Gatlinburg Fireworks Finale3. Gatlinburg Fireworks Finale

“Join the celebration in downtown Gatlinburg to mark our nation’s “Independence Day” with a magnificent fireworks show. The City of Gatlinburg lights up the mountain skyline downtown centered on the area of traffic light #3 at 10 p.m. with this grand display. Designated a Top 20 event by Southeast Tourism Society. ”

View of the Fireworks from Eagles Nest4. Stay in a Cabin

The best way to enjoy all Gatlinburg has to offer during 4th of July week is to stay in a Gatlinburg Cabin! ERA In The Smokies offers a variety of cabins to suit all your vacation needs! Want to be secluded and private? Stay in Chipmunk Haven! There’s a little bit of a view as well, rare in private cabins! Want a spectacular mountain view? Stay in Sky Highway! You can even enjoy that view from a relaxing hot tub! Want a pool table and other fun games? Stay in Black Bear Holler! Want to bring your pet along for the adventure? Stay in On the Rocks! But for the 4th of July, there are probably a ton of you who just wish there was some way to enjoy the fireworks without having to leave the comfort of your cabin! You are in luck! We have 6 cabins from which you can do just that! Above the Rest, At the Top, Eagle’s Nest, Great Escape, Sunset Ridge, and Southern Comfort sit up on a small hill overlooking the town of Gatlinburg. From these cabins, you have a gorgeous mountain view, as well as a view of the city lights at night, and of course- the fireworks! They also boast pool tables, hot tubs, and gas fireplaces, as well as close proximity to town. You can drive less than half a mile down the hill, park for free on River Rd (if you get there early enough in the day) and walk a block over to the main Parkway in Gatlinburg! Have fun!

Smoky Mtn Tunes and Tales5. Smoky Mtn Tunes & Tales

Tunes & Tales is a summer-long street performance event throughout downtown Gatlinburg featuring musical performers, cloggers, storytellers and artisans giving you a taste of Appalachian culture. This popular event truly highlights one of Gatlinburg’s greatest assets – the walkability of the community – and provides guests with an interactive, educational and entertaining experience the whole family can enjoy.”

Lonestar will play at the Patriot Festival6. 24th Annual Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival

July 4- “Thousands gather at Patriot Park each year for this free event. The fun typically starts around noon with games and activities for kids. There’s also live musical entertainment, which starts early in the afternoon and lasts until 9:30 or 10 at night. This years lineup features the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus, the Tim Kellar Band, bluegrass group Adkins & Loudermilk, the Jimmy Buffet tribute band Sons of Sailors and the event headliners Lonestar! After the music it’s time for the evening’s finale – an extravagant fireworks display!”

July 4th Sale at Tanger Outlets7. 4th of July Weekend Sale at Tanger Five Oaks

July 3-6 Tanger Outlet Mall at Five Oaks in Sevierville will be having their July 4th Sale! And we thought those outlet deals couldn’t get any better! With over 100 stories and eateries, Tanger is a complete day experience of its own! View their current coupons and sales! For those in your family who don’t wish to shop til they drop, Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini Golf is just a short walk through the parking lot, and the NASCAR Speedpark is next door.

Smokies Baseball8. Tennessee Smokies Baseball

July 3- Start off your celebrations early with a classic American baseball game at Smokies Stadium at exit 407 on I-40. The Smokies face off against the Montgomery Biscuits. At the end of the game, enjoy a beautiful fireworks display!

The Art of the Picnic9. Pack a Picnic

Whether you want to stake a claim for a parade view, or set up to see some fireworks, whether you’re going to spend all day shopping or seek some peace and quiet at one of our area’s many parks and picnic areas, you’re going to need lunch (and/or dinner)! So pack a picnic! If you want to make it super easy, you can always get take out from your favorite restaurant, and whisk it away to your desired location to enjoy! If you want to go more traditional, and perhaps save a little money, you can visit our local grocery store, Food City, and pick up those sandwiches, pickles, and chips (or your own favorite picnic foods). You can also pick up disposable plates, forks, napkins, and even a disposable tablecloth! If you want to be even more thrifty, you can check out the prices for those items at the Family Dollar store just up the hill from Food City.

Great American Summer10. Great American Summer at Dollywood

Dollywood makes every day this summer feel like July 4th with their Great American Summer Celebration! The park stays open longer- 10am to 10pm- to allow you to enjoy all the park has to offer for just a little bit longer, including a nightly fireworks display! “Synchronized to music, each evening features Paint Your Dreams across the Sky, an inspiring musical crescendo written specifically for the occasion by Dolly, along with other songs that underscore this colorful summertime celebration!”

Let the Festivals of Winter Begin!

DSC 3907_adjCome watch as the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville illuminate the area for the upcoming holiday season. One can surely get into the spirit once they see these LED lights light up the streets. The Sevierville Winterfest Kick Off Music, Lights & Magic will start things off on Tuesday, November 12th with local entertainment and games for the children. The evening will continue with fireworks and the “flipping of the switch” on the area’s first Winterfest lights. This years Winterfest can be viewed in a whole new light with 3D glasses that can be purchased for a $1.00 (while supplies last) at the Sevierville Visitor  on Hwy 66. These spectacles will allow every light to shift into a snowflake!

Pigeon Forge will commence their Winterfest after the completion of the Veteran’s Day Parade on Tuesday, November 12th. The city’s festivities will start at 5:00 PM and include a children’s play area and pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. There will be musical entertainment and the lighting of more than five million lights on the Winterfest displays, they will top the evening off with fireworks.

On Wednesday, November 13th the city of Gatlinburg will join in with the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Kickoff and the Winter Magic Down_townTrolley Ride of Lights. Visitors can taken in the Gatlinburg Winter Magic season from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley by taking the relaxing Trolley Ride of Lights. These designated trolleys take guests on a memorable journey through downtown Parkway, River Road, and the triangle juncture of the two, allowing everyone to experience the magical wonder of Gatlinburg Winter Magic. These specially designed LED light displays form animals indigenous to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park including deer, foxes, squirrels and rabbits. Trolley times are set for 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 PM.

How About Chili to Take Away the Chill!Chilli-Cook-Off

On Wednesday November 13th stroll down parkway and take away the chill at the Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff. will take place on the will take place from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM and tickets can be purchased online for $10. Guests will be able to sample chili prepared by more than twenty chefs from local restaurants and businesses. The Chili Cookoff will also feature a chili-eating contest. Guests who take part in this yearly competition will eat chili that gets progressively hotter with each round. Those attending are encouraged to vote for their favorite chili. These votes will be tallied to award the coveted People’s Choice Award to the most popular chili. A panel of judges will cast their votes for other awards, including: Best Presentation, Best Chili Apron, and Best Chili.

Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees

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Stroll through the intricately decorated Christmas trees at the Gatliburg Convention Center from Tuesday, November 26th thru Saturday, November 3oth. Experience the ambiance of a Christmas in the Smokies. While there you  can enter a Gingerbread House Contest. They will be taking donations for admission to the event. You can also take this opportunity to shop for unique handcrafted gifts made by members of  the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Their annual Thanksgiving show will also being taking place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 26th – December 1st.

NutcrackerTake in a performance of the Nutcracker “Sweet” from Friday, November 29th and Saturday, November 30th. Presented by the Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theater, enjoy this holiday classic presented in Gatlinburg, with performances at 7:00 PM in the  W.L. Mills Auditorium. (GSE) Call (865) 680-7369 for information and reservations.