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.

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A New Perspective!

The warmer months are coming and you are already planning your return visit. If you have experienced our nature hikes, you are aware of the surroundings. You look at nature with a keen sense, you take a moment to capture and admire light, sounds and the critters along the way. Well, it may be time to take that experience to a higher elevation.

CLIMBWORKS CANOPY provides you with the opportunity to take it in, with a higher perspective in mind. Their area is surrounded on three sides by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which means you zipline over ravines, streams, trees and the wildlife found below. Feel the air, as you slide across the mountain scenery on nine different ziplines and step across three canopy bridges. Their tour guides will drive you to the top of a mountain, then be prepared to glide among the trees for two hours.

As you glide from tree to tree taking in the view along those lines, see the beauty that makes this area a treasured site. If you still can’t enough of the excitement it provides, then try it again – this time at night!

Ziplining

Climb_logoThis 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.

ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals

 

Motorcycle Trails!

 

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Gatlinburg, TN has attracted many visitors traveling by motorcycle over the years. With it’s winding roads and gorgeous mountain views, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful place to have fun riding motorcycles and take in the beauty of the mountains. Throughout the many different motorcycles trails there are quaint mountain tours offering culture and history to visitors. Stop in each town and have a meal and discover what the natives have to offer. The trails range from moderate in difficulty to strenuous in difficulty for all levels of experienced drivers. Have fun and remember to always put safety first when riding!

Here is a complied list of great motorcycle trail in the Smokies:

  1. Gatlinburg, TN tour NC, TN- Approximately 225 miles round trip. Travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway heading West and onto Gatlinburg, TN. Abrp terrific road with abundant scenery. Time permitting, drive onto Pigeon Forge, TN and then return home after lunch.
  2. Cherohala Skyway tour NC, TN- Approximately 320 miles round trip. Truly a road in the sky! Typically less traffic than the Blue Ridge Parkway and much more isolated. Arrive in Tellico Plains, TN and have lunch along the river. Return home on the same road with a totally different view of the scenery.
  3. Cherokee/Casino tour NC- Approximately 180 miles round trip. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway over to Cherokee and learn about the Indian heritage in the area. If you are a gambler, Harrah’s Casino offers an abundance of gambling diversions to take your money.
  4. biltmorefront3Biltmore Estate tour NC- Approximately 65 miles round trip. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville and then to the Biltmore Estate, “America’s Castle”. Spend as much time as you like exploring the Estate and Gardens and have lunch while you are there.
  5. Oconee Forest/ Highlands tour NC, SC and GA- Approximately 150 miles round trip. Travel through a canopied forest and up a back road to highlandsHighlands. This is one of the more spectacular curvy mountain roads around. Have lunch in the quaint mountain village of Highlands and experience some great shopping afterwards and then head home.
  6. Deals Gap tour NC, TN- Approximately 200 miles round trip. Travel to Bryson City and beyond to Deals Gap and the “Tail of the Dragon”, 318 turns in 11 miles. This is the longest trail in the Smokies, but possibly the most rewarding.tail of the dragon
  7. Hot Springs tour NC- Approximately 160 miles round trip. Travel scenic mountain roads to North Carolina’s only natural hot water springs/baths. Be careful, the springs really relax you.
  8. The Newport Trail tour TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, rivers, mountain coves and valleys, town of Newport, TN and the river gorge.
  9. The Dandridge/ Douglas Lake Trail tour TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river gorge, mountain coves, mountain lake, historic town of Dandridge, TN, Douglas dam and bypass around Pigeon Forge, TN.
  10. The Waynesville/ Cherokee Trail tour NC, TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river-cut canyon through the Great Smoky Mountains, quaint mountain resort towns and the Cherokee Indian National Reservation. A final ride over the high range of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a grand finale for this scenic and entertaining trail.
  11. The Maggie Valley/ Blue Ridge Parkway Trail tour NC, TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river-cut canyon through the Great Smoky Mountains, a quaint mountain resort town with regional amusement park combined with spectacular views at roadside overlooks, picnic areas and quiet trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway for one of the most popular motorcycle trails for locals and visitors alike.

Stay at an authentic mountain cabin with ERA In The Smokies and travel to all of the fun motorcycle trails!

Things to do in Gatlinburg- For Kids!

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When vacationing in Gatlinburg, many visitors look for something fun to do with their kids. There are a range of activities to participate in from hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to riding bumper cars in downtown Gatlinburg. There are many cheap or free things to do in Gatlinburg also if you are on a budget. At the Nantahala Outdoor Center right before the National Park in downtown Gatlinburg, kids can climb the rock wall while you shop for new camping gear.Climbing_with_NOC_(001) The NOC is a great place for the whole family. There are several Ripley’s attractions throughout downtown Gatlinburg  including Ripley’s Aquarium in the Smokies with an interactive kids area, live mermaid diving shows and a specially designed kid friendly penguin exhibit, Davy penguinsCrockett mini golf, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze and Candy store, Ripley’s Moving Theater, Ripley’s Fun Zone, and the famous Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Ober Gatlinburg also has a lot to offer not only in the winter months, but in the summer months as well. Ride the Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg up to Ober Gatlinburg and enjoy the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains. After you get to the top, visit the Wildlife Encounter where you can see Bears. While on your visit to Ober Gatlinburg spend a few hours Ice Skating, ride the Alpine Slide, the Scenic Chairlift, the Blue Cyclone Rapids water slide and Ober’s Lightin’ Raft Ride and alpine slideShoot-the-Chute. There is also a fun-filled Amaze’n Maze and a Kiddie Land and Rides for children.

Gatlinburg also offers Zip-lining, Whitewater Rafting, hiking, biking, horseback riding and fishing noc raftingspots. You may book zip-lining and white water rafting trips through the NOC in downtown Gatlinburg as well as rent bicycles for the day and get information about where to go fishing. The Sugarlands Visitors Center is also a great place to take your children for free where the whole family can learn about the history of the park and go through the wildlife museum inside the Visitors Center. Get information about the Junior Ranger program and the activities that your children may participate in for free. Cades Cove is also an excellent place to take your family in the park. Take a ranger led hayride through Cades Cove for $14.00 per person.

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Mynatt Park, one of Gatlinburg’s City parks, is near downtown Gatlinburg. Take the family to the park for a picnic lunch, to play in the river, play on the jungle gym, or even play a fun game of tennis or basketball. All kids live candy, so while downtown visit any of the local Candy stores where the candy is made on site. Watch Saltwater Taffy being made at Ole Smoky’s Candy Kitchen.

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Stay with ERA In The Smokies and easily access all that Gatlinburg has to offer for the entire family!

Day Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Click here for Easy Summer Hikes!

There are many different trails to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous. Whether you’re looking for a quiet forest walk and wildflowers or a hike by the river to an amazing waterfall, there is a hike for everyone! Here are a list of the hikes you can complete in a day.

  1. Alum Cave- Features views and interesting geological features. 4.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty
  2. Charlie’s Bunion- 8.0 miles roundtrip
  3. Spruce-Fir Trail- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, 0.4 miles roundtrip
  4. Laurel Falls- Located in Elkmont, 2.3 miles roundtrip and features a historical waterfall and stream
  5. Little Brier Gap- Located in Elkmont, features the Walker Sisters Place and is 2.3 miles roundtrip
  6. Grotto Falls- Located in Gatlinburg/ Mt. Leconte, features waterfalls and is 2.6 miles roundtrip
  7. Schoolhouse Gap- Located in Cades Cove/ Townsend, features a quiet forest hike and wildflowers and is 3.8 miles roundtrip
  8. Baskins Creek Falls- Located in Gatlinburg, features waterfalls and is 3.0 miles roundtrip
  9. Andrews Bald- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, features panoramic views and is 3.5 miles roundtrip
  10. Porter’s Creek Trail- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, streams, flowers and an old growth forest, 4.0 miles roundtrip
  11. Abrams Falls- Located in the Cades Cove area, features waterfalls and is 5.0 miles roundtrip
  12. Little River Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features streams and seasonal wildflowers, 4.9 miles roundtrip
  13. Meigs Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, quiet forest hike, 4.6 miles roundtrip
  14. Hen Wallow Falls- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, 4.4 miles roundtrip
  15. Huskey Gap (Newfound Gap Rd)- Located in Gatlinburg, features a quiet forest walk and is 4.2 miles roundtrip
  16. Chimney Tops- Located in Gatlinburg, features panoramic mountain views and is 4.0 miles roundtrip
  17. Cucumber Gap Loop- Located in Elkmont, features streams and seasonal wildflowers. 5.6 miles roundtrip
  18. Grapeyard Ridge Trail- Located in Greenbrier, features a historical Injun Creek steam engine wreck and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  19. Deep Creek Headwaters- Located in Newfound Gap, features a stream and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  20. West Prong Trail- Located in the Cades Cove area, features a stream and quiet forest walk, 5.4 miles roundtrip
  21. Curry Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.4 miles roundtrip
  22. Sugarland Mountain Trail (lower)- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.0 miles roundtrip
  23. The Jump Off- Located in Newfound Gap, features panoramic mountain view and is 6.5 miles roundtrip
  24. Bullhead Trail- Located in Gatlinburg, features views and interesting geological features, 5.9 miles roundtrip
  25. Sugarland Mountain Trail (upper)- Located in Newfound Gap, features views and solitude, 7.0 miles roundtrip

It is important to always hike prepared. Here is a complied list of things to bring with you on each day hike in the Smokies during the Summer months.

  • Backpack, daypack or fanny packhike gear
  • Rain/Wind shield
  • Supportive Footwear
  • Extra socks
  • Extra clothing
  • Gloves
  • Water: full canteens, water bottles or hydration pack
  • Extra food: high energy snacks
  • Map and/or guidebook
  • Compass
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Watch
  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun protection
  • Toilet paper (in a plastic bag)
  • Money/ ID

Suggested/ Optional Gear:

  • Hiking Pole
  • Bandana
  • Notebook with pencil
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Cell phone
  • Napkins
  • Zip seal plastic bagsAbrams Falls Trail

Include in basic first-aid kit:

  • Roll bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile compresses
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Miscellaneous band aids
  • Twine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • Tissues
  • Plastic bags
  • Small mirror
  • Antibacterial soap/wipes
  • Eye drops
  • Burn Ointment
  • Sunburn lotion
  • Disinfectant cream
  • Decongestant and Antihistamine tabletshiking-first-aid-kit
  • Anti-acids
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Aspirin/ Ibuprofen
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Poison ivy cream/ cleansers
  • Bee sting kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Personal information/ contact person
  • First-aid manual

Safety tips:

Never hike alone, give a family member or friend your hiking itinerary and estimated time of return, always stay on the designated trail, don’t hike too quickly pace yourself, start early, check the weather forecast before heading out, know where to get emergency medical care, watch for signs of heat exhaustion, don’t pack too heavily, never approach wild animals, and remember to always have fun!!

Ten Cheap or FREE things to do in Gatlinburg-2013

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1. Driving Trails- Enjoy nature and view wildlife on these driving trails: Trail of the Dragon, Balsam Mountain Road, Cades Cove Loop Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Upper Tremont Road, Newfound Gap Road and the Cataloochee Valley.

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2. 8 mile driving loop around the Arts and Crafts Community- With more than 120 working artisans this loop is the nations largest organization of independent artisans.

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3. Historic Structures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park– There are over 90 structures preserved or rehabilitated in the park. You can see them in Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

4. Free Wine Tasting- Try locally made wines at these wineries: Smoky Mountain Winery, Sugar-lands Cellars, Ole Smoky Winery and Moonshine Distillery

5. Sugar-lands Visitor Center- Pick up maps and see exhibits of Mountain life and culture as well as all of the different species of animals that can be found here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

6. Outdoor Activities- Bicycling, Camping, Fishing, Hiking and Picnicking. There are many places in the park to enjoy multiple activities such as the Chimmeys Picnic area, the Greenbrier Picnic area, the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area and Cades Cove.biking

Seasonal Events:

7. Winterfest– This event brings the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, share ideas and compete against other posts and crews and have fun.

8.Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival– Beginning in September, the people of Gatlinburg celebrate the Autumn colors by decorating and entertaining guests and start out with the Fall Craftsman’s Fair.

9. New Year’s Eve Ball Drop– Celebrate the New Year at Gatlinburg’s 26th annual Ball Drop and Fireworks Show around the intersection of the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg and the Historic Nature Trail at the Base of the Space Needle late Tuesday night, December 31, 2013.

10. Gatlinburg Festival of Lights Christmas Parade- Celebrate the Christmas season at Gatlinburg’s 38th annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade at 7:30 p.m. on Friday December 7, 2013. There will be over 100 parade entries, helium balloons and marching bands from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. gatlinburgchristmasparade

WILDlife!

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a vital sanctuary for a wide variety of animals. Around 65 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds, 50 native fish species and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians can be found in the park. Some of the most commonly seen animals include the white-tailed deer, groundhog, chipmunk, black bear and some other squirrel and bat species. Of the 200 species of birds, 85 of those species migrate from the neotropics. Over 700 miles of streams, creeks and rivers support the fish populate here in the Smokies and the park has been able to reintroduce some of the native species that has been eliminated in past years. Climatic and geographic factors make a perfect combination for the variety of 30 salamander species found in the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most diverse places in the world for salamanders, so you are lucky to see one!Pileated WoodpeckerPolliwogs, Eggs & Singing Frogs

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Unfortunately, many species have become threatened and endangered such as:

  • Indiana Bat
  • Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Spot-fin Chub
  • Duskytail Darter
  • Smoky MadamThere are approximately 2 bears per square mile in the National Park!
  • Yellowfin Madtom
  • Spruce-fir moss Spider
  • Eastern Small-footed Bat
  • Watershrew
  • Appalachian Cottontail
  • Henslow’s Sparrow
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Red Crossbill
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Eastern Hellbender
  • Seepage Salamander
  • Junalusica Salamander
  • Olive-darter
  • Tennessee Dace

The park staff is continually working on making sure the environment for these particular species is accommodating to their individual needs, however, visitors to the park must be aware of these endangerments and be respectful of the native species surrounding them.

Viewing wildlife in the Smokies can be a challenge as most of the park consists of dense forest. Wildlife is often seen in the Cataloochee and Cades Cove areas. Animals can be seen while taking hikes in the park as well. Many animals are most active at night and morning, so these are the best times to catch a glimpse of the wonderful wildlife in the Smokies. It’s also a good idea to bring binoculars and scan the trees for wildlife as well.