Beloved Black Bears

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Even though they look cute and cuddly, black bears are wild animals and are dangerous and unpredictable. While visiting the Great Smoky Mountains please do not approach the bears or allow them to approach you and do not feed them! “Panhandler” bears, who have had access to human food and garbage only live half of their normal life expectancy. Not to mention, you can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail for feeding bears and improper food storage. Many areas around the country are rapidly developing to accommodate more housing. Because of their loss of habitat in North America, black bears are now confined to wooded areas or dense brush land. In the Smokies, you can often see a black bear in the Cades Cove area and many other areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ober Gatlinburg also has a black bear exhibit containing bears.

About Black Bears

Black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains are black in color, but in other parts of the country they can be brown or cinnamon in color.  These creatures can grow up to six feet in height standing. A male black bear usually weighs about 250 pounds, while the female black bear generally weighs just over 100 pounds. However, by the fall, black bears can double their weight preparing for the winter months. This has been observed by the park staff as the black bears in this area have been documented weighing over 600 pounds. Wild black bears can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years. Unfortunately, because humans can be careless, these precious creatures sometimes do not live out their life expectancy because they are made to live on berries and when they eat trash it puts toxins in their bodies. black bear

Bears are most active during the early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer. Black bears can run up to 30 miles per hour, swim very well and also climb trees. They will often mark trees with their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears. Bears in the Smokies often make their dens at higher elevations in hollowed out trees. They enter dens in October and November and hibernation usually lasts between 3 to 5 months. A special hormone, leptin is released into the black bear’s systems, to suppress appetite. Because they do not urinate or defecate during dormancy, the nitrogen waste from the bear’s body is biochemically recycled back into their proteins. This also serves the purpose of preventing muscle loss, as the process uses the waste products to build muscle during the long periods of inactivity.

Safety Around Black Bears

Black bear attacks on humans are very rare. Between 1900 and 2007, only 60 people were killed in black bear attacks across North America. However, if you do find yourself in an aggressive encounter with a black bear, you should fight back with any object available weather it be a stick, a rock or even your shoe. The bear may be considering you as prey so you want to let it know that you are dangerous to them. Please report all black bear incidents immediately to a park ranger or the park service. Here are a few tips to better protect yourself from a dangerous black bear situation:

  1. When camping, never cook or store food in or near your tentbear_picnic_table
  2. Hang food and other items with strong odors (ie, toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) out of reach of bears. Hang items at least 10 ft above the ground and. If no trees are available, store your food in airtight or bear-proof containers
  3. Change your clothing before you go to sleep; don’t wear what you cooked in to go to bed and be sure to store smelly clothing along with your food/smelly items
  4. Keep the area clean. Be sure to wash dishes, dispose of garbage, and wipe down tables
  5. Burn garbage completely in a hot fire and pack trash out – don’t bury it
  6. Don’t surprise bears. If you’re hiking, make your presence known. Make noise by talking loudly, singing, or wearing a bell
  7. If you can, travel with a group. Groups are noisier and easier for bears to detect
  8. Keep in mind that bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk so plan your hikes accordingly
  9. Stay on marked trails and obey the regulations of the area you’re hiking/camping in
  10. If you’re hiking in bear country, keep an eye out for tracks, scat, digs, and trees that bears have rubbed
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Spring Break In The Smokies

Click Here to Subscribe by Email!This year at Spring Break, don’t follow the crowd to the beach, follow the fun to the Smokies!

Go Swimming in the SmokiesGo Swimming

At Spring Break in the Smokies, the outdoor pools usually aren’t opened yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on swimming!
Indoor Swimming Pools– There are two indoor swimming pools in the area that can accommodate you for just a couple dollars per person. The indoor swimming pool at the Gatlinburg Community Center is open every day, even in winter and spring. Check their website for hours of operation and prices. The Pigeon Forge Community Center also offers an indoor swimming pool. Hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday- 8:00am – 8:00pm; Tuesday, Thursday- 6:30am – 8:00pm; Saturday- 10:00am – 5:30pm; Sunday- 1:00pm – 5:30pm. The Day fee for non-residents in $6.59 and includes access to the entire community center, including basketball courts, racquet ball, bowling, and more. Call 865-429-7373 for more information.
Indoor Water Park– There is an indoor water park as well, with a little bit of extra watery fun! The Wild Bear Falls Water Park in Gatlinburg “is the ultimate indoor/outdoor water park experience. Not only is there 60,000 sq ft. of watery fun for kids and adults, the water park also features an entry-level pool for toddlers. For those that are in need of a break from the water or want to recharge, there is a snack bar, gift shop and an arcade on the mezzanine level. High above the fun, the mezzanine also permits you to take in the action below or keep an eye on your family.”

Visit a Theme Park

Dollywood opens on March 23 this year, with endless opportunities for family fun! On hot days, water rides are available. Roller coasters and rides provide plenty of thrills, including the still new Barnstormer and Wild Eagle Rides. The Festival of Nations is hosting the Cirque Shanghai. Shopping, shows, food, and dozens of children’s activities round out the experience. ERA In The Smokies can help you with discounted 2-day passes if you stay in one of their cabins or chalets!

Enjoy the Spring Weather and Wildlife

Hiking To Chimney TopsPerfect Hiking Weather
Thousands of people flock from far and wide to enjoy all the amazing hiking trails of the Great Smoky Mountains. While a novice might expect summer to be the best time for hiking, anyone who has been hiking in summer knows that spring and autumn are the best seasons for hiking by far. In summer it can get quite warm, and when one is hiking, this increases the body heat as well, and can work up quite a sweat! In the spring, the beautiful color of new leaves fills the Smokies, the birds and animals are flitting about, the wildflowers are coming out in profusion, and the temperature is perfect. On a perfect spring day, it may seem just a bit warm down in the town of Gatlinburg, but as you climb in elevation in the Park to get to the trails, the temperature will drop a bit. When you get out of your car to begin the hike, you will probably feel a bit chilly. Just put on a light jacket, and start hiking! Within about ten minutes, you will likely be getting pretty warm again. Just remove your jacket, tie it around your waist, and continue on your hike! See some more hiking tips.
Waterfall Season
In spring, the frequent rainfall and melting snow contribute to gorgeous, roaring waterfalls! If you are one of those people for whom waterfalls hold a mesmerizing attraction, the Smokies is the place for you! From small cataracts cascading along the side of the road, to huge falls of 50 ft or more, the Smokies are riddled with waterfalls. Meigs Falls and Place of a Thousand Drips are accessible by car-ride, and tons of others are available by hikes, long or short!
Wildflowers
There are wildflowers for every season, but none holds such a profusion of color and scent as spring-time! If you visit us during the last weekend in April, you can take advantage of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to assist in your discovery of our spring wildflowers! “The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an annual five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park consisting of a variety of wildflower, fauna, and natural history walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and indoor seminars. Most programs are outdoors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while indoor offerings are held in various venues throughout Gatlinburg, TN.”

Have a Boardwalk Experience

Both in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the main strips play host to such a variety of attractions, a walk down either could keep you entertained for days! The term boardwalk brings up images of shopping, eateries, ice cream, fudge, mini-golf, go-karts, shows, and more! Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer all this and more.

See a Show

There are so many show here in the Smokies, you could never see them all! Some of our favorites fall loosely into three categories, although most shows contain all three elements in some degree!
Comedy
Sweet Fanny Adams
“On your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, head for Pat & Don MacPherson’s Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, Gatlinburg´s ONLY Musical Comedy Entertainment Attraction and the OLDEST Purveyor of Professional, Live-On-Stage, Original Musical Comedies, outrageous humor and hilarious fun in the Smokies.”
Comedy BarnThe Comedy Barn
“The Comedy Barn® Theater, located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee , is the award winning family comedy variety show in the Smoky Mountains. Our show features magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, ventriloquists, clean family comedians, live country and gospel music as well as fun barn yard animals.”
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud
“Howdy! Welcome to the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge. You are just in time for the big ole barn dance tonight and boy, is it gonna be a wild one. Seems somehow someone invited BOTH the Hatfields AND the McCoys to the party! Everyone knows just how well those two families mix so you might be able to guess just how busy our newly elected sheriff is gonna fair in the next few hours.”
Action
Dixie Stampede
“Searching for family fun and adventure during your vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee? Join Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN for a family feast and fantastic show fun for all ages. Filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions plus a mouth-watering four-course feast complete with a delicious dessert!”
Lumberjack Feud
“Pigeon Forge has a new attraction, and it’s not your ordinary dinner show. With competing ESPN Lumberjack Athletes, you won’t want to miss the “Rowdiest Good Time Dinner Show in the Smokies!”
Music
Smoky Mountain Opry
“The Smoky Mountain Opry is the area’s largest musical variety show featuring music from Big Band Swing through today’s country.  See the most talented cast of singers, dancers, comedians, and musicians the Smokies has to offer! Marvel at our special effects, laser lights, pyro, giant video screens, dazzling costumes, and high flying musicians!”
Smith Family Dinner Theater
“Since 2004, the theater, located at 2330 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has been treating visitors to a stage show heavily steeped in Southern music and culture. For two hours each performance, the Smiths charm their audiences with their unique brand of music and comedy in an intimate, familial style.”
Country Tonite
“Looking for true Pigeon Forge entertainment? Look no further as we are celebrating our 16th Spectacular season in Pigeon Forge, Country Tonite launches a BRAND NEW PIGEON FORGE SHOW – which means new production numbers, new choreography, new lighting effects, new side-splitting comedy, and new costumes.  Country Tonite’s 2013 season promises to surpass all expectations as they combine your favorite country classics with hot new country hits and hilarious country comedy in this fast paced show.”

Hollywood Wax MuseumSneak In Some Educational Fun
Hollywood Wax Museum
“Come Play with the Stars! The all-new Hollywood Wax Museum is part of the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center entertainment attraction at 106 Showplace Boulevard in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If you’re waxing for fun in the Smoky Mountains, get into the action with your favorite stars at the largest Hollywood Wax Museum in the United States. From Michael Caine to Michael Jackson and Lucille Ball to Lucy Lui, you’ll find classic and current stars ready and waiting to take pictures with you. In addition to posing with the stars, you’ll learn about their pets, pet peeves, accomplishments, charity work and more. The two-story Pigeon Forge Hollywood Wax Museum also includes themed tributes to film genres including western, action, romance, sci fi, comedy, and horror. The Wax Museum near Dollywood in Pigeon Forge brings you into the world of celebrities like never before.”
Titanic Museum Attraction
“Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge is a half-scale, permanent, three-deck reproduction. The museum houses 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts that were either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats.”
Wonderworks
“WonderWorks Pigeon Forge began as a Top Secret research laboratory on a remote island in the Bermuda Triangle. As legend has it, the world’s greatest scientists – led by Professor Wonder – were given the task of creating a man-made tornado and harnessing the POWER of it. During this experiment, something went awry and the power of the tornado was unleashed throughout the laboratory. This created a swirling vortex that was strong enough to rip the laboratory from its foundation. It was carried thousands of miles away and landed upside-down on the top of a theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Remarkably, all of the experiments remained intact and functional.”

Enjoy the View
This area is famous for it’s gorgeous mountain views. There are multiple ways to enjoy the view, including just driving down the road!
National Park Scenic Overlooks
Take a drive through the National Park and you will find several pull-offs at various scenic overlooks. Take a few minutes at each one to take in the view and take a view pictures.
Get up High, Stay Close to Town!
Take the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway and enjoy the view all the way up to the top of Ski Mountain. The view from the parking lot at the top is phenomenal in its own right! Ride the Gatlinburg Sky Lift to a height of 1,800 ft on Crockett Mountain and fin another spectacular view. Ride up 407 feet in a glass elevator to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle, which affords a 360 degree view of the surrounding city and mountains!
Take a Hike, Take a Picnic
An especially great way to enjoy the view is to be a part of it! Hike up to the top of one the peaks in the National Park and gaze out at the beauty surrounding you. You’ll be hungry by the time you get up there, so be sure to pack a small lunch to enjoy when you arrive! Our favorite spots for a mountaintop picnic are the top of the Chimney Tops Trail and Charlies Bunion Trail.
Check out the view from the hot tub at Southern Comfort!Rent a Cabin With a View
The best way to enjoy the view is from the deck of your very own Smoky Mtn Cabin! Sit out with your favorite drink and your favorite person and relax. Or jump into the hot tub and feast your eyes from there. Just imagine, getting up each morning to the spectacular vista of the Great Smoky Mountains, taking your lunch out on the deck, reading a book in a rocking chair in the fresh air, soaking in the hot tub while listening to the crickets and all with those beautiful mountains right in front of you! Sigh…. heaven! The folks at ERA In The Smokies can help you find just such a cabin to make your Spring Break the best one ever!

Winter Wildlife: Doe a Deer

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesMost of us probably assume that there isn’t much wildlife to see in the winter. In the Smokies, however, winter is a perfect time to view wildlife such as deer, as the trees have lost their leaves. This makes it easier to spot deer through the trees.

White-Tailed Deer in the SmokiesHere is what the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to say about our local white-tailed deer:

White-tailed deer live throughout the Smokies, but are most commonly seen in areas with open fields such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.

Deer living in the southern Appalachians give birth in late June. Newborn fawns have no defense beyond camouflage. Many are lost to predation during their first few days. By their second spring, males begin to grow antlers. They fully develop in August, and in September, the bucks fight for mating rights. Mating occurs in November. The antlers fall off by mid-winter.

Deer browse for nutritious foods. The diversity of plants growing in the park provide excellent food sources. When favored foods disappear, deer switch to more common, less nutritious plants. If nothing else is available, they will eat poison ivy or rhododendron. Acorns and nuts are important fall foods.

Deer populations can change quickly. Local over-population leads to widespread disease and starvation. Predation by coyotes, bears, and bobcats help reduce threats associated with overpopulation.

Foraging In WinterAccording to the Adirondack Ecological Center,

Winter activity, mainly foraging, is more likely in late afternoon. After snowfall, the winter diet consists of woody browse – the twigs and stems of seedlings, saplings and shrubs. An adult white-tailed deer requires approximately 5-7 lb of food per day. Energy demands vary seasonally, and are greatest for pregnant and lactating females, for males in the autumn rut, and for all individuals during severe winter weather.

So this winter, when you’re in the Smokies, don’t be discouraged! Pack up a lunch to take in the car, or get take out, and take a drive into the Park! Cades Cove is an especially good place to see deer. Go during the warmest part of the day. Begin about lunch-time, and drive slowly! You’ll be traveling through at the perfect time to see plenty of deer! Enjoy, and take pictures! How many deer did you see on your last drive through Cades Cove? Did you see a lot of deer in another part of the Park? Tell us about it!

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.

Gregory Bald

Visit Gregory BaldOne of our staff members visited a very special place in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that few people ever get to see: Gregory Bald. Gregory Bald is a 10 acre grassy bald on the Tennessee – North Carolina state line in the western part of the Park. The only way to access the bald is by hiking to it via Gregory Ridge Trail (5 miles) or Gregory Bald Trail (4.1 miles). When originally built in the 1930’s, the Appalachian Trail crossed Gregory, but it has since been moved.

What is a Grassy Bald?

A grassy bald is basically a mountain with a field on top. The origins of these balds are unknown and there are several different sides to the debate. Most balds are believed to be man-made and were originally kept open by livestock grazing. Today many grassy balds are kept open for their historical value, by mowing or grazing. On other balds, the forest is gradually moving back in. If you are interested in the history of grassy balds in the Smokies, we found an interesting online book discussing the topic.

Stay with ERA In The SmokiesIn addition to Gregory Bald, there are several other grassy balds in the Smokies: Russel Field, Spence Field, Silers, Andrews, Parsons and Hemphill Balds. Of these, only Gregory Bald and Andrews Bald are maintained by the Park Service. Learn more about the restoration of native vegetation and landscapes in the Park.

Of all the grassy balds in the Park, Andrew’s Bald is probably the shortest hike. From the Clingman’s Dome parking lot, hike for 1.7 miles on Forney Ridge Trail and you will find yourself standing on Andrews Bald. Although this trail is relatively short, it is fairly rocky and is not for everyone!

The southern Appalachians have several other grassy balds outside the Smokies. Just over an hour away, Max Patch is a grassy bald in the Pisgah National Forest that can be driven to for easy access. Another popular grassy bald to visit is Roan Mountain, which is maintained through grazing.

Azaleas

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The most stunning thing about Gregory Bald is the azaleas! Azaleas are flowering shrubs closely related to Rhododendrons. Every year in mid-to late June, the azaleas of Gregory Bald bloom in a full spectrum of colors! It really is a beautiful sight!

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When our staff member was up there, she was told it was a little too early for the peak bloom. As you can see, a lot of the azaleas were budding, but not yet in full bloom. Actually she thought the buds were just as beautiful as the flowers!

Visit the Great Smoky Mtns National Park!

The most common azalea species in the Park is the orange flame azalea,which grows at a wide range of elevations. Other azaleas in the Park are sweet azalea, pink azalea, and clammy azalea. On Gregory Bald, many of these species hybridise to produce a rainbow of different colors!

If you ever get a chance to hike up to Gregory Bald and see these beautiful flowers, you will be glad you made the trek, because this place is quite spectacular!

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.

Fall Color Update from the National Park Service

Fall Leaf Color – October 2, 2012
Article quoted from Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.

Visit the Smoky Mountains National Park WebsiteFall colors are nearing peak at high elevations in the park. Some trees are still green, but yellow and golds are becoming predominant along roadways above 4,000 feet elevation. Newfound Gap Road near the crest of the mountains and Clingmans Road are particularly nice at this time. At lower elevation, early trees are turning now, but these are scattered patches of color–the majority of trees at low elevation are still green. Dogwood, black gum, sourwood, sumac and Virginia Creeper are among the species showing red color at lower elevations now.

Fall wildflowers are blooming in abundance along park roadways. Look for goldenrod, asters, snakeweed, and jewelweed.

The park usually experiences an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountain sides from high elevation to low. However, the timing of fall color change depends upon so many variables that the exact dates of “peak” season are impossible to predict in advance.

Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park. At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, color displays start as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway.

The fall color display usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is the park’s most spectacular display as it includes such colorful trees as sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.

Autumn is both a beautiful and a busy time in the Great Smoky Mountains. The annual show of fall colors attracts huge numbers of sightseers, especially during the last three weeks of October. Areas in the park which experience the longest traffic delays are Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441). Try some of these suggested autumn drives and hikes to enjoy fall leaf colors in areas of the park that are a little less crowded.

Why are fall colors so remarkable in the Smokies? One reason is the park’s amazing diversity of trees. Some 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies and the vast majority of these are deciduous.

Visit the Smoky Mountains National Park WebsiteHow do colors change? As summer ends, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to shine. Carotenoids, the pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow, are exposed as the green fades. Reds and purples come from anthocyanins, a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight.

There are no motels or rental cabins located within the national park. However, communities surrounding the national park offer a wide choice of accommodations including hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. October is a busy month in the park, so it is advisable to make accommodation reservations as early as possible. Information about accommodations in the surrounding communities.

Vividly colored fall leaves leaves may grab your attention, but don’t overlook the park’s fall wildflowers which bloom in profusion along roadways!

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

Start now with your fall planning, and book your lodging to enjoy smoky mountain fall. September marks a wonderful time of year to vacation to Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This month kicks off the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, a three month long event featuring fall activities, events and concerts! Many families choose the fall time to visit Pigeon Forge, and it’s no wonder why. With the breathtaking changing of the leaves, the fresh, in-season produce, and the variety of events and activities in Pigeon Forge and nearby towns, there are endless entertainment options to take advantage of.

Check out these events below and begin planning your fall time Smoky Mountain vacation. All events take place in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, which are neighboring towns only a short drive from one another. Reserve your cabin with ERA In the Smokies and begin planning your trip itinerary today!

Sevier County Harvest Festival Events:

September Events

1 – 3

“Hearts That Survive” Book Signing – guest author Yvonne Lehman comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

1 – Dec 31

Titanic Honors Homeschool Students, September – December 2012 – Special Home School Rate on Selected Dates. Reservations Required. Call 800-381-7670. Use the ‘ship’ as a classroom! Students can learn life lessons, along with traditional education in History, Science, Geography, language arts, and Social Studies.

1 – 30

Behind the Scenes of James Cameron’s Titanic – Titanic Museum Attraction – an exclusive behind the scenes of Titanic movie, including costumes  Jack and Rose wore. For more information call 800-381-7670

1 – 2

8th Annual Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival  Free outdoor family event located at Arrowmont  School of Arts and Crafts. This festival features skilled artist from all over the country, great cuisine and fun music for all!

3 – 8

Sevier County Fair – Enjoy the last moments of summer with an evening at a country fair. Enjoy carnival rides, games, contest, food and concerts at our hometown fair.

7

Star Gazing in the Smokies – Come out to Purchase Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a wonderful night of star gazing on Friday, September 7 beginning around 7:30 p.m. Call (865) 926-6251 for reservations.

7 – 8

Shades of the Past – Thousands of classic car, truck and motorcycle enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to Pigeon Forge each year.

8 – 9

Teacher Escape Weekend – Escape to  the Smokies and join Tremont’s teacher/naturalists for an exciting look at what Tremont has to offer. This weekend is an opportunity to meet other teachers, share ideas, learn about new Tremont programs and answer questions you may have before your school’s visit. It is also a time to relax, enjoy the mountain scenery and make new friends.

13 – 15

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival – This three day festival is jam packed full of Bluegrass performers that will start playing at 9 a.m. and keep playing well on into the night.

13 – 16

Grand Fall Rod Run – The changing colors and bright leaves falling are the perfect natural backdrop for viewing the colorful selection of cars during this huge event. Car enthusiasts enjoy cruising and meeting on the main parkway amid the fall displays in every restaurant, hotel, and attraction.Located at Grand Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, TN.

15

Stargazing in Cades Cove Field – beginning at 8:00 pm.  Park near the exhibit shelter at the entrance to Cades Cove Loop Road, where a ranger will escort the group about one-third of a mile to a nearby field.

16

Classic rock bands ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, TN. Tickets for the show are $46.50 for general admission, $67.50 for VIP seating. Tickets go on sale Friday, July 20 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at the Smokies Stadium box office, by calling (865) 656-4444,or by visiting knoxvilletickets.com.

21 – 22

Don Williams in Concert – at Country Tonite Theatre. For more information please call 1-800-792-4308 or visit www.firstclassconcerts.com

24

Gerald Charles Dickens Performances: Guests of The Inn at Christmas Place have two opportunities to see Gerald Dickens, the great-great-grandson of author Charles Dickens perform his one-man show “Dickens is Coming!” This is Mr. Dickens’ third appearance at the hotel, and he is a real favorite.

25

“Maritime Artist from England, specializing in Titanic Art” Book Signing – guest author Ed Walker comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

26 – 29

“Maritime Artist from England, specializing in Titanic Art” Book Signing – guest author Ed Walker comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

27

Taste of Autumn – supporting the United Way of Sevier County and featuring the fare of the area’s finest restaurants and businesses plus live music at Gatlinburg Convention Center 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

28 – Nov. 4

Oktoberfest at Ober – Ober Gatlinburg is celebrating October with a fantastic festival featuring Bavarian-style food, drink and music. You don’t have to don your finest lederhosen or dirndls to be a part of the fun!

28 – 29

Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timers Day – Come out to the Townsend Visitor Center in Townsend, TN for bluegrass music, clogging, beautiful antique tractors, crafts, food, quilting, apple-butter making, beekeeping and blacksmithing.

29

Railroad Days at the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend, TN

29 – 30

13th Annual Fall Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament – Come out for great prizes and fun as we stock over 5,000 trout prior to this two day event! (865) 661-3474

30 – Oct. 28

Autumn Workshops at Arrowmont  – From September 30 – October 28, 2012, thirty-six one-week and weekend classes will be offered in baskets, brooms, clay, drawing, enamels, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, painting, photography, printmaking, special topics, and wood. Call (865) 436-5860 for more info.

30

Smokies Half-Marathon, 5k and Fun Run – 8:00 am Be here for the first ever Smokies Half Marathon, 5K and Fun Run which will start and finish in the historic “Old Mill District”, nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Plan to make a long weekend out of it! Stroll the Parkway and enjoy some of the area’s great attractions.

October Events

1 – 28

Autumn Workshops at Arrowmont – From September 30 – October 28, 2012, thirty-six one-week and weekend classes will be offered in baskets, brooms, clay, drawing, enamels, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, painting, photography, printmaking, special topics, and wood. Call (865) 436-5860 for more info.

1 – Dec 31

Titanic Honors Homeschool Students, September – December 2012 – Special Home School Rate on Selected Dates. Reservations Required. Call 800-381-7670. Use the ‘ship’ as a classroom! Students can learn life lessons, along with traditional education in History, Science, Geography, language arts, and Social Studies.

4 – 21

“1912 Facts About Titanic” Book Signing – guest author Lee Merideth comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

1 – 31

Behind the Scenes of James Cameron’s Titanic – Titanic Museum Attraction – an exclusive behind the scenes of Titanic movie, including costumes  Jack and Rose wore. For more information call 800-381-7670.

1 – Nov. 4

Oktoberfest at Ober – Ober Gatlinburg is celebrating October with a fantastic festival featuring Bavarian-style food, drink and music. You don’t have to don your finest lederhosen or dirndls to be a part of the fun!

5 – 31

Ripley’s Fright Nights – Every evening at 6:13 p.m. beginning with a New Orleans-style character parade. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure is celebrating its 14th Annual Fright Nights show entitled “Backwoods Terror: You Just Made A Wrong Turn”, a show dedicated to all things Halloween!

6 – 7

Teacher Escape Weekend – Escape to the Smokies and join Tremont’s teacher/naturalists for an exciting look at what Tremont has to offer. This weekend is an opportunity to meet other teachers, share ideas, learn about new Tremont programs and answer questions you may have before your school’s visit. It is also a time to relax, enjoy the mountain scenery and make new friends.

6 – 7

Robert Tino’s Smoky Mountain Homecoming – Come out to the pumpkin patch for old fashioned games, bluegrass music and the unveiling of Robert Tino’s latest print.

6 – 7

Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Festival – held at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, located in the peaceful gateway community of Townsend, TN. Through an assortment of artifacts dating from 3000 B.C. to the 1930’s, visitors catch a glimpse of Native American life and its pottery.

10 – 16

Titanic Honors Pastors and Clergy, October 10-16, 2012 – Reservations Required. Call 800-381-7670. Learn about the religious heroes of Titanic and what they did in those final hours to spread the gospel and save the unsaved.

11 – 28

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair – One of the Southeast’s favorite events featuring over 200 booths of artisans finest work. Live entertainment daily!

Foothills Fall Festival – one of the most anticipated events in the southeast! Nestled at the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maryville, Tennessee hosts three days of amazing world class concerts, juried arts and crafts, and activities, shows, and much more for the whole family. We’re setting the stage for you this October!

15 – 20

Mountainfest at The Inn at Christmas Place – Mountainfest event located at The Inn at Christmas Place includes bluegrass music, singers, storytellers and demonstrations of mountain crafts.

19 – 21

Women’s Backpack – What better way is there to enjoy early fall than with a group of adventurous women on the trail and around the campfire. It’s “Girl Power” all the way as we climb mountains, ford streams and leave our hectic lives behind.

19 – 20

Autumn Brilliance Photography Workshop – Willard Clay, widely recognized as one of our nation’s preeminent landscape photographers, leads this annual workshop. Unlike many photography workshops, our price includes meals, lodging and instruction by one of the finest teams of photography instructors anywhere in the country.

22 – Nov 5

“The Sinking of the Titanic” Book Signing – guest author Bruce Caplan comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

26

Ray Stevens in Concert (two performances 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.) – at Country Tonite Theatre. For more information please call 1-800-792-4308 or visit www.firstclassconcerts.com

November Events

1 – 5

“The Sinking of the Titanic” Book Signing – guest author Bruce Caplan comes aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. to sign books and talk about Titanic history with guests. 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

1 – 4

Oktoberfest at Ober – Ober Gatlinburg is celebrating October with a fantastic festival featuring Bavarian-style food, drink and music. You don’t have to don your finest lederhosen or dirndls to be a part of the fun!

1 – Dec 31

Titanic Honors Homeschool Students, September – December 2012 – Special Home School Rate on Selected Dates. Reservations Required. Call 800-381-7670. Use the ‘ship’ as a classroom! Students can learn life lessons, along with traditional education in History, Science, Geography, language arts, and Social Studies.

1 – 30

Behind the Scenes of James Cameron’s Titanic – Titanic Museum Attraction – an exclusive behind the scenes of Titanic movie, including costumes  Jack and Rose wore. For more information call 800-381-7670.

2 – 4

Climate Change in the Smokies – Join rangers and scientists from Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with Tremont staff to learn the current state of climate change in the Smokies and possible future outcomes for the park.

5 – 12

Titanic Honors Veterans, November 5-12, 2012 – Military Members Receive VERY SPECIAL OFFER with Military ID during Pigeon Forge Veterans Week. Guests must present a Military ID/Papers.  Call for details. 800-381-7670.

5

Sevierville Winterfest Kickoff

6

2nd Annual Salute to Veterans Parade: Join us in Pigeon Forge as we salute the men and women of America’s military during this annual parade through the city.

6

23rd Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest Kickoff

6 – Feb 28

23rd Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest  – Join all the fun this winter with activities in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and all over the Smoky Mountains as we celebrate Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, TN. Enjoy holiday lights Nov. 6, 2012 through Feb.28, 2013.

6 – Dec. 31

Winterfest Trolley Tour of Lights – Nov. 6, 2012  until  Dec. 31, 2012 at Patriot Park. Come out and experience the stunning light displays on board a Pigeon Forge trolley. The Tour of Lights begins and ends at Patriot Park. Please call (865) 453-6444 for specific departure times.

7

Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff – Sample mouth-watering recipes of homemade chili. Grab a spoon and savor everything from mild and delightful to wild and adventurous. The City of Gatlinburg hosts the 23rd Annual Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff on Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in downtown Gatlinburg.

11

Veterans Day Celebration – Join Gatlinburg in saluting America’s veterans of the Armed Forces, featuring stirring musical numbers and words of tribute. This popular free-admission event on Sunday, November 11 will be held in the plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies at 2:00 p.m.

20 – 24

Festival of Trees – Dozens of decorated Christmas trees amaze visitors in this winter wonderland at Gatlinburg Convention Center’s W.L. Mills Conference Center. This annual display is a fundraiser for Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry.

21 – 25

Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show – Authentic items crafted by Smoky Mountain artisans who are members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Autumn and holiday items for sale at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

11

Veterans Day Celebration – Join Gatlinburg in saluting America’s veterans of the Armed Forces, featuring stirring musical numbers and words of tribute. This popular free-admission event on Sunday, November 11 will be held in the plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies at 2:00 p.m.

20 – 24

Festival of Trees – Dozens of decorated Christmas trees amaze visitors in this winter wonderland at Gatlinburg Convention Center’s W.L. Mills Conference Center. This annual display is a fundraiser for Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry.

21 – 25

Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show – Authentic items crafted by Smoky Mountain artisans who are members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Autumn and holiday items for sale at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

22 – 24

Real Snow off the Bow of Titanic Museum Attraction – 7:00 p.m. Free in Parking Lot – Bring your Cameras! Each night, November 22-24 and every Saturday in December, the Titanic will produce real, falling snow off the bow of the ship. AND…the entire ship inside and out will be aglow with Christmas lights and decorations.

22

Fireworks at Titanic Museum Attraction – 7:30 pm (or when it gets dark) The night sky will be filled with a major fireworks show to celebrate the lives and legacies of the ship’s passengers, crew and rescuers. It will be the largest fireworks event on the Parkway since the Titanic Museum Attraction’s grand opening in 2010.

26 – Dec. 2

Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show – Authentic items crafted by Smoky Mountain artisans who are members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.  Christmas items for sale at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

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.