Clingman’s Dome Road in Winter

One year, one of our staff members, let’s call her Amy, cross-country skied on Clingman’s Dome Road.Clingman's Dome RoadThis 7-mile road leads up to the highest point in the Smokies, Clingman’s Dome, at 6,643 feet. This road is a popular tourist destination in the warmer months, but in the winter it is closed to all motorized vehicles(until April 1). This high elevation road probably gets more snow than anywhere else in the Park! And since it is closed in the winter, it never gets plowed, creating great conditions for great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing!

Clingman's Dome

Those that are feeling ambitious go the whole distance to Clingman’s Dome – 14 miles round trip! When they arrive at the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, they may have the whole place to themselves – a rare occurrence at this popular spot! Amy wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, so she skied 2 miles in and 2 miles out.

It is amazing how much it snowed that winter here in the Smokies! It made for some treacherous driving, but was also great for winter sports! Up on Clingman’s Dome Road there were between 10 inches and 2 feet of snow (depending on how sunny or shady the spot)! What started out as near perfect powder, became somewhat sticky beneath Amy’s skis as the day warmed up.

My Snow Bear!After an hour or so, she took a break and decided to build a snowman! Over the next half hour Amy had a blast building her creation, which ended up being a snowbear! At first she was sad to leave him, but she was glad that she didn’t have to watch him melt! Hopefully he made a few people smile as they passed by in the following days!

Got Skis?

Unfortunately we don’t know of ANY places around here that rent cross-country skis or snowshoes. Usually we don’t get that much snow, so renting out these items probably hasn’t been profitable in the past. If you are coming to visit Gatlinburg from far away, our advice is to find some cross-country skis or snowshoes before you leave and bring them with you! You can always find them online too. Try Craigslist for a used pair – our friend Amy actually found a few used pairs in the Knoxville area!

SkiingIf you decide to try out Clingman’s Dome Road this winter, we hope you have fun! We recommend parking right beside the closed gate, off to the side so that other cars can get by. The Park Service might prefer that you park in the Newfound Gap parking lot, but then you would need to walk on the sometimes busy road, so we’re not sure which is preferable. Use your best judgement!

Make sure you bring everything you normally would for hiking: water, hat, gloves, sunglasses, snacks. Keep in mind that you will warm up fast since this is GREAT cardio! This is where layering is important. Amy only wore her jacket for about 5 minutes! Then it stayed in her backpack for the rest of the day.

Top 10 Reasons We like Cross-Country Skiing

We will leave you with the Top 10 Reasons Why We like Cross-Country Skiing:

  1. My SkisIt’s Free lift tickets can be EXPENSIVE!
  2. No Lines – you never have to stop moving
  3. No Lifts – you don’t get cold sitting on the lift.
  4. You can bring your dog, and it’s great exercise for him too!
  5. You can do it in your backyard, and a bunch of other places!
  6. It is GREAT exercise.
  7. Easy to learn (and less painful).
  8. You can watch winter wildlife and look for tracks.
  9. It gets you outside and into the sun, which helps beat winter blues.
  10. It’s FUN!

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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 area.

Titanic’s 3rd Annual Ice Carving Competition

Enjoy Beautiful Ice Sculptures!Watch in amazement as professionals and amateurs alike carve beautiful, sparkling sculptures out of ice! This Saturday, January 19, from 9am to 3pm, Titanic Pigeon Forge will host its third annual Ice Carving Competition! This lovely event will be held in Titanic’s outdoor entertainment center and it’s free to drop by and enjoy the beauty!

Last year’s event drew a crowd of about 5,000 spectators. Those planning to visit this year are encouraged to come early to secure a good view. “Professionals and amateur artists are competing for prize monies ranging from $500 to $2,000 in the competition. The official National Ice Carving Association judging panel will announce the competition winners and award prizes at 3 p.m.”

To get you excited about coming to enjoy this free event, we found a You Tube video of a previous Ice Carving Competition at the Titanic location in Branson, MO.

You Tube Video of Ice Sculpture Contest at Titanic Branson

 

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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 area.

Wilderness Wildlife Week 2013

Wilderness Wildlife WeekThe 23rd Annual Wilderness Wildlife Week will be Jan 12 – 19 in Pigeon Forge, at the Music Road Hotel & Convention Center. This is a GREAT event for the whole family, and it’s all free!! “The theme of Wilderness Wildlife Week™ in Pigeon Forge, involves a continuous thread of wholesome, family oriented, tasteful integrity beginning with the originators and continuing throughout every presentation and excursion associated with the event. It is a constant aim and commitment that Wilderness Wildlife Week™ proceeds and succeeds as an event of the highest standards and principles and that it be obvious to every participant that this is a safe, encouraging and giving event.” This event includes tons of workshops and lectures, more than 40 guided walks and hikes, and even a photography contest! Don’t miss out!

Read More About Fall Color In The SmokiesYou can view pages and pages of the amazing workshops and lectures available! Here are just a few of the ones that look interesting to me, just to get you a little excited too!

Discovering October Roads
Sat, Jan 12, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
View Fall Colors of East Tennessee

Beginning Mountain Dulcimer
Sat, Jan 12, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Must Pre-register

Read More About Wildflowers In The SmokiesWildflowers of the Smokies
Mon, Jan 14, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Introduction to Bluegrass Dancing
Tues, Jan 15, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

The Iron Works and the Forge- Pigeon Forge’s Namesake
Tues, Jan 15, 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Join Jerry Wear as he discusses the manufacturing of iron in Pigeon Forge around 1820. This early industry is almost unimaginable in today’s bustling vacationing resort town.

We Love Cades Cove!

APPALACHIAFEST!- A Free Musical Celebration of Our Heritage
Smoky Mountain Inhabitants and Their Music
Tues, Jan 15, 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Of Home and Hearth
Tues, Jan 15, 6:45pm – 7:45pm
Carolina Bluegrass Boys with clogging from the Appalachian Cloggers
Tues, Jan 15, 8:00pm

Introduction to Tracking People in the Outdoors
Thurs, Jan 17, 8:00am – 11:00am

Wild Ones Among Us
Wed, Jan 16, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Bears, Bears, Bears!!Bears, Boars and Bulls: A Wild Life in the Smokies!
Thurs, Jan 17, 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Their lives and interactions with humans

Famous Searches/Rescues of the Great Smoky Mountains
Fri, Jan 18, 8:00am – 11:00am
Study some of the Smokies’ most famous search & rescue operations

For detailed information on all the wonderful things available as a part of the Wilderness Wildlife Week, visit their site!

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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 area.

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Festival of Christmas Past

Visit the National Parks Traveler SiteCheck out this great article form National Parks Traveler:

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be offering its annual Festival of Christmas Past on December 8.

Co-sponsored by the park and Great Smoky Mountains Association, this will be the 37th edition of the festival that takes place each year on the second Saturday of December. The event will be held at the Sugarlands Visitor Center just inside the Gatlinburg park entrance. This is also the location for park headquarters.

Headed up by Ranger Brad Free, a 13-year veteran of the Smokies, the festival will include storytelling, music, and guided walks. Hands-on demonstrations typically include blacksmithing, music, fabric spinning, quilting, weaving, doll making, apple cider pressing, and apple butter making. The festival offers an opportunity to learn about winter life in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center includes a museum, exhibits, a large gift shop, and an excellent 20-minute film. According to a park official, adequate parking should be available at the visitor center. For questions call the visitor center at (865) 436-1291. Additional information will soon be published on the park website.”

Elk Herd Update 2012

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesElk were originally native to the Smokies and Appalachian area. The last elk in North Carolina is believed to have been seen in the 1700’s and the last elk in Tennessee in the 1800’s. After nearly 200 years, a herd of elk from Land Between the Lakes was reintroduced to the Cataloochee area, in the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 25 elk were introduced to the park in 2001 and another 27 were added in 2002. Since then the elk herd has steadily grown and flourished to the herd of approximately 140 elk! You can view updates from throughout the last 10 years on the National Park’s site. Here is the most recent update, from July 2012:

Smoky Mountain Elk Herd News

View the whole July 2011 update“After several years of high reproduction and survival, the park’s elk herd has had a below average year. Known adult elk mortality has averaged about 4 animals per year since the beginning of the project with slight increases as the herd continued to grow. As of July there have already been 8 documented adult elk mortalities in and around the park. The mortalities have consisted of 5 males and 3 females of the following causes:

• 3 vehicle collisions resulting in euthanasia because of injuries
• 1 from brainworm, a parasitic worm found the Southeast
• 1 euthanasia due to severe infection from a weakened immune system
• 3 illegally killed just outside of Park boundaries

Elk In the Great Smoky MountainsThe park’s elk herd is still small and its future growth is variable depending on recruitment and survival rates across time. This year’s survival data will be added to the data from the previous 10 years and the population models will be reanalyzed. The current elk population in western North Carolina is believed to be approximately 140 animals, counting those elk both inside and outside of national park boundaries.

In February of 2011, a large bull elk was illegally killed near Harmon Den, outside of park boundaries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case in cooperation with park staff. Three individuals have recently been charged with illegal possession of this elk’s antlers but there have been no poaching charges to date. Elk are classified as a species of special concern in North Carolina, so killing elk or acquiring any part of an elk is illegal in the state.

View all our Elk Photos from our 2011 Elk Photo ContestThe case of three elk that were illegally shot and killed this year on private property is still under investigation and is being handled by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in cooperation with park staff. The poaching occurred on May 17 in the Mount Sterling area near Waterville, and nothing was removed from the animals. These elk consisted of one young male and two adult females, one of which was pregnant. Recently, the NC Wildlife Federation has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.

 

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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 area.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year- 2012

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesThe Holidays are coming! In fact, if you come to Gatlinburg, you’ll think they’re already here! The calls come in daily… “What are some good Christmas shows to go to?”, “When can I see the lights?”, “Tell me about the Christmas parade!”. If you think summer is the only time when Gatlinburg is throbbing with excitement, you should try coming here for the holidays!!

Sweet Fanny Adams' Yuletide MadnessThere are enough shows to make your head spin! Most of the theatres and dinner theatres around here have a special Christmas or Holiday show, including: Dixie Stampede, Smoky Mtn Opry, Country Tonite, Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, and the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud! First Baptist Sevierville will put on a magnificent Singing Christmas Tree on Dec 2 & 3 at 6:30pm, both evenings. You can call the church office at (865) 453-9001 with any questions! The Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theatre will present The Nutcracker “Sweet” at the W.L. Mills Auditorium on November 23 & 24 at 7:00 pm both evenings. Call (865) 680-7369 for information and reservations. Throughout the streets of downtown Gatlinburg, each Friday and Saturday evening between Thanksgiving and Christmas, view the Winter Magic version of Gatlinburg’s Tunes and Tales, with live music to enjoy as you’re exploring our downtown Parkway! If ice skating tickles your fancy, enjoy Christmas on Ice, presented at Ober Gatlinburg’s ice-skating rink, or go ice skating for yourself! Dollywood is also doing a Christmas on Ice show!

Dolly Parton's Great Smoky Mountain ChristmasDollywood will have a lineup of mesmerizing Holiday events to thrill every one of your five senses! “See the Smokies’ most spectacular light display and a lineup of live Christmas shows that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, all at Dollywood. 4 million lights drape the park in holiday splendor, casting a warm glow that sets the scene for a winter wonderland like no other. Create a family tradition at Dollywood’s sensational shows, including the triumphant return of perennial favorite Christmas in the Smokies. Let the heartwarming sounds of the season set the stage for a Christmas the entire family will enjoy. Don’t miss Dollywood’s Christmas on Ice, which is performed by the Ice Theater of New York. This spectacular indoor ice skating production features amazing spins and spirals choreographed to the beautiful sounds of the season! And don’t forget, everyone loves a parade, especially Dollywood’s daily Parade of Lights featuring Christmas floats adorned with brightly colored lights.”

Gatlinburg's Holiday Light Display!If you like to look at Christmas lights, don’t miss the Smokies! Gatlinburg is gleaming with millions of LED lights, transforming the town into a gorgeous winter wonderland! Pigeon Forge is also covered in LED lights! You can even take a Trolley Tour of Lights! And don’t forget Sevierville, your hometown in the Smokies! You can even view their LED light display in 3D with special 3D glasses available while supplies last!

Christmas Shopping!What better place to do your Christmas shopping than Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain Area! From charming local shops to the bargains of the outlet malls to an array of Christmas stores, the Smokies has everything you need to have an enjoyable Holiday shopping experience!

Rent a Cabin!Perhaps some of you come here in the winter specifically to find the snow! I don’t think you will be disappointed! Although the snow rarely sticks around for long down in town, you can easily drive or hike up into the higher elevations to find some snow to play in, if it doesn’t snow in town while you’re here! You can even rent a cabin up in the higher elevations, if you’d like to really surround yourself with snow!

Gatlinburg Festival of Trees!The Festival of Trees will be on display in the W.L. Mills Conference Center on November 22 – 26. “Step into a festival world of Christmas Trees as you experience Christmas in the Smokies at the 2011 Festival of Trees, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Surrounded by the twinkling lights and sounds and smells of the holidays, shop the many handmade centerpieces and craft items, and return to the joys of celebrating Christmas in the Smokies.”

Christmas ParadeEveryone wants to know about the Christmas Parade! The Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade starts at light #1A on Hwy 321, and ends at light #10 on Parkway! It will be on December 7, beginning at 7:30 pm. Over the course of about an hour and a half, the parade excitement for young and old also includes more than 100 parade entries, over a dozen marching bands from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama, and giant helium balloons taking to the streets, as more than 80,000 people line the streets! Don’t miss the excitement!

Holiday Craft Show!“Get a head start on your Christmas shopping at our Christmas Craft Show beginning on  November 26 – December 2. Doors open at 10am daily and as usual the admission is free to everyone! Shop in the comfort of the Gatlinburg Convention Center amidst the holiday decor and surroundings. This will surely get you in the Christmas mood and kick your holidays off just right. Give a craft for Christmas… it’s sure to be the most unique gift you can give and it’s one-of-a-kind!”

New Year's Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks!And for the grand finale, will be the New Year’s Ball Drop and Fireworks in downtown Gatlinburg! “Gatlinburg will welcome the arrival of 2013 in unique style with its 25th Annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show around the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail at the base of the Space Needle late Monday night, December 31.. At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2013, the Space Needle area will shine with a red glow from the surrounding rooftops at the beginning of a music program which includes selected songs followed by a choreographed fireworks show produced by Pyro-Shows of LaFollette, Tennessee.”

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!!!

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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 area.