Bear Alert!


Black bears have been very active during this time of year here in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. With Summer coming to a close and Fall setting in, they are preparing for the upcoming Winter season. Some campsites and hiking trails are on High Alert for Bear sightings in the area. A few of these include Backcountry Campsites #10, #21, #60, #63, and #92, Mt. LeConte shelter, Laurel Falls Trail, Abrams Falls, Ramsey Cascades Trail, Grotto Falls Trail, Forney Creek Trail, and Grapeyard Ridge Trail.

What do I do if I see a bear?

The National Park Service recommends that if you spot a bear to remain watchful and don’t approach the bear. Watch for changes in its behavior to ensure that you have not gotten too close. In this event you would walk backwards slowly, to let the bear know you bears-in-field_djbeckare giving it space. Once far enough you can resume your hiking – away from the bear. Black bear attacks come few and far between. Preventative measures are often the best way to avoid any sort of bear sighting or attack. This can be done by practice Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out trash or using proper trash bins, disposing of food and waste properly, minimizing your impact on the environment, and hanging your food away from your campsite.



If you would like the chance to ‘safely’ view a bear, try heading up to Cades Cove to drive through the Park and view some of the wildlife. Early morning sightings are more frequent, although we have found critters at all times of the day! The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also frequented with wildlife and you may be able to catch a glance of one through the trees!


Of course you may even spot one in Downtown Gatlinburg! Garbage has been a big issue in the area. Black bear diets consist of nuts, berries, and insects. Being that Gatlinburg city borders the National Park, bears can get confused to the smells that
waft in from town. They will follow those smells to campsites, picnic areas, and bear_picnic_tablesometimes even businesses and houses! That is why it is so important to follow the guidelines set in place to control garbage problems. Just a reminder to never feed or leave food out for a bear or any other animals as it can cause that animal to be less fearful of humans and they will likely seek out more food. In fact, citations can be issued by park rangers trying to reinforce these guidelines, with fines up to $5,000 or even jail time.



But it’s almost Winter..don’t Black Bears hibernate?

Towards late Summer and early Fall black bears start storing food and can eat up to 30 pounds of it a week. Smoky Mountain black bears do hibernate, but not like many of other bears in different areas. They can go long periods of time without food, water, exercise, and using bodily functions. Bears will usually find a hollowed out tree or some other form of burrow to take refuge from the cold. They usually slumber through the Winter, but on warmer days some will wake and wander around. Their bodies release a chemical called leptin, which is used to curb their appetite and their metabolism rate drops to about 50% of the normal rate. Body temperature only drops by a few degrees, unlike black bears in the northern regions. Their hibernation period in the Smokies may not be as lengthy as black bears in Northern regions such as Alaska due to our short winters.


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.


Have you ever seen Smoky Mountain Bull ELK?!

bull elk

“Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces elk, is illegal in the park. Violation of this federal regulation can result in fines and arrest. Do not enter fields to view elk-remain by the roadside and use binoculars, telephoto lens, or a spotting scope to view the animals.”- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service

Elk can also be dangerous. Female elk with calves have been known to charge people in defense to their young. Male elk have also been known to charge people if they perceive them as a threat to their domain. Please keep your distance to avoid these hazards. SmokyMountains_Elk

History of Elk in the park

At one time, elk inhabited the southern Appalachian mountains, but unfortunately, they were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk seen in North Carolina was in the late 1700s when it was killed. The last elk was killed in Tennessee in the mid 1800s. By 1900, conservation organizations became concerned that the species would soon become extinct. In cases where a species has been eliminated from the area, the National Park service can choose to reintroduce them. In 2001 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park service began to reintroduce elk to the park. Twenty-five elk were brought here from the Land Between the Lakes National Reservation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Fun Facts about Elk

  • Adult male elk are known as “bulls” and weigh between 600 and 700 pounds
  • Adult female elk are known as “cows” and weigh about 500 poundscopper colored elk
  • Adults can be 7 to 10 feet long and stand 4.5 to 5 feet at shoulder length
  • Adult males have antlers that can grow up to five feet
  • Elk can live up to 15 years
  • Elk are vegetarian and eat grasses, forbs, acorns, bark, leaves and buds from shrubs and trees
  • Newborn elk weigh about 35 pounds and can stand within minutes of birth
  • In early spring, elk shed their antlers and immediately begin growing new ones
  • In late spring, elk shed their winter coats and begin to grow beautiful copper-colored, one-layer coats
  • The fall breeding season is known as “rut”
  • Elk can be seen in the Cataloochee Valley and in the field beside the Oconalufee Visitors Center

Fall Leaves in the Smoky Mountains!

Subscribe to this blog by Email!

Hobblebush photo courtesy of Harvard ForestWhy are fall colors so remarkable in the Smokies? One reason is the area’s amazing diversity of trees. Some 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies and the vast majority of these are deciduous.

How 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.

Bring the family to see the leaves change!The Great Smoky Mountains National Park usually experiences an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountainsides from high elevation to low. However, the timing of fall color change depends upon so many variables (including rainfall) that the exact dates of peak fall foliage color each year are impossible to predict in advance.


Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway!
At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, leaves begin to change as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush (above right) & pin cherry.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingman’s Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway (right), or the Foothills Parkway. Support the Park, buy the Cades Cove Story!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 (see book pictured left) & Newfound Gap Road. Try some of these less crowded autumn hikes & drives:

  • Check for current discounts!Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a narrow, steep, but paved one-way road that winds through rich forests and offers glimpses of rollicking Roaring Fork creek. As the name implies, this road is designed for leisurely travel and enjoyment of nature.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway follows the crest of the mountains for 469 miles, all the way to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Frequent auto pullouts along the first few miles provide spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains in all their autumn finery.
  • Balsam Mountain Road offers intimate views of northern hardwood forest at the top, transitioning to cove and southern hardwoods toward the bottom. The road eventually leaves the park and enters the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

There are no rental cabins located within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park; however, take a look at some of these cabins with phenomenal views:

  • Stay a week or Stay a lifetime!Chipmunk Haven– This is a cute, private log cabin with a view, a rare find! Chipmunk Haven has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, an outdoor hot tub, an indoor whirlpool tub, and is located just 3 miles from the downtown Parkway in Gatlinburg.
  • At Trail’s End– This luxurious cabin is located in a peaceful setting off the beaten path
  • Almost Heaven – This 2 bedroom, 2 bath cabin is located minutes from the National Park. You can enjoy the fall color from your hot tub or porch –no hiking necessary.
  • Winfield Heights – From a spa-like couples getaway to a family-fun vacation, the cabins of Winfield Heights offer you and yours deluxe accommodations and amenities–in-room whirlpools, outdoor hot tubs, pool tables & fireplaces. Enjoy both a mountain view AND a downtown city view!

ERA In The SmokiesSpecial thanks to the Smokies Guide, the official newspaper of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as for providing the fall color update information.

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 area.

Ditch Your Car!

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesSo many people want to be close to town when they come to Gatlinburg! You can enjoy a whole vacation of entertainment, shopping, and sights just by visiting all the attractions and shops along the main parkway and just off of it! And if you want to hit the National Park, the Arts & Crafts District, Dollywood, or Pigeon Forge, just take advantage of our network of trolleys!

View a Trolley Map!We have a couple of chalets in Gatlinburg with the perfect location. At just 2.5 blocks from a main road (321, or East Parkway) and a trolley stop, they are just far enough off the main road to have a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, and just close enough to walk out to the trolley stop or take the mile walk into town! Heightening the tranquility is a quietly bubbling stream, perfect for fishing (it’s stocked!) or just relaxing out on the patio or porch.

River's Edge Chalet

River's Edge

Dream's Inn

Dream's Inn

River’s Edge is a two bedroom chalet with comfortable, homey decor, outdoor hot tub, indoor jetted tub, and gas fireplace. Dream’s Inn is a beautiful chalet right next door, also a two bedroom, a little more refined decor, gorgeous indoor whirlpool tub overlooking the creek, gas fireplace, and spacious master suite! Both offer a quiet oasis of tranquility and are just a short walk and/or trolley ride from all Gatlinburg has to offer!

Ditch Your Car!You could drive your car here, and then have the luxury of ditching it, or hopping in if you want to go somewhere a bit farther. You could also catch a flight in to the Knoxville airport, take a taxi to Gatlinburg, and then enjoy the adventure of leaving your car behind altogether!

Here are just some of the shops and attractions within two miles of these chalets!

Within A Mile:


Rafting In The SmokiesRafting in the Smokies– “Rafting in the Smokies continues to set the rafting standard in East Tennessee. Feel the excitement as one of Rafting in the Smokies’ certified guides demonstrate their passion for whitewater by escorting you down the Upper Pigeon Whitewater Trip and Lower Pigeon Float Trip. Our knowledgeable river guides don’t just love whitewater… they live it!”
Sweet Fanny AdamsSweet Fanny Adams Theater– “Hilarious comedy shows at Gatlinburg’s top entertainment attraction. Only alternative to country shows in the east Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains area. Fun for the entire family!”
Ripley's Aquarium of the SmokiesRipley’s Aquarium– “Ripley’s® Aquarium of the Smokies is literally teaming with life – our 10,000 exotic sea creatures comprise more than 350 individual species. There are more fish in this aquarium than there are people living in the entire town of Gatlinburg. Although Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is hundreds of miles from the ocean, the scenic beauty and the abundance of water all around make the town of Gatlinburg a “natural” location for a world-class aquarium, America’s most fun aquarium.”
Honorable Mentions: The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, Hillbilly Golf, Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf


Alamo SteakhouseAlamo Steakhouse– “The Alamo Steakhouse Restaurant in the Smokies is the perfect dinner setting, for anything from an intimate dinner for two to a big family dinner, including private seating to accommodate reunions, wedding parties, anniversary celebrations and more. Our restaurant booths are tucked away to assure privacy, and our dining areas provide ample room for all to enjoy.”
Ogle's Brick OvenOgle’s Brick Oven– This little place is great! I stopped in here with my family when they were in from out of town. It doesn’t look extremely impressive at first glance, although it does have a nice atmosphere. But the food is GREAT! They have traditional items that you always look for, including great pizza. But they also offer several choices that are a little more unique, and extremely delicious!

Photos of Mountain Lodge Restaurant, Gatlinburg

This photo of Mountain Lodge Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Mountain Lodge Restaurant– This is one of those places where “all the locals go!” Famous for breakfast, and delicious for lunch as well, this little gem is something you won’t want to miss. It is a Sunday breakfast tradition for one of the realtors in our office, and has received rave reviews from locals and tourists alike on Trip Advisor. Come see for yourself!
Honorable Mentions: Hard Rock Cafe, Greenbrier Restaurant, No Way Jose’s, Whole Earth Grocery


Mountain MallMountain Mall– “The Gatlinburg Mountain Mall, Gatlinburg’s premier indoor shopping experience, is unlike any other shopping mall. Nestled in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, TN at Traffic Light #6 across from Ripley’s Aquarium, the Gatlinburg Mountain Mall features a vast variety of shops each with a unique theme.”
Ken Jenkins PhotographyBeneath the Smoke– “Ken’s galleries, Beneath the Smoke and Heaven’s Eyes, are located at the west entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where he has been exposed to the 12 million visitors that enter the park since 1986. Ken Jenkins is a nationally known natural history photographer, writer, lecturer, and outdoor adventurer. For more than 30 years his photographs and articles have appeared in publications from National Geographic to Southern Living.”
Within 2 Miles:

Listed below are just some of our favorites. Anything on the main Parkway in Gatlinburg is within two miles of these lovely chalets. So if you are thinking, “I wonder if such-and-such is within 2 miles…” If it’s on or just off the main Parkway, the answer is “Yes!”


Ripley's Believe It Or NotRipley’s Believe It Or Not– “Visit the strangest place in Gatlinburg! Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has been proudly freaking out families for over 90 years. There’s always something undiscovered at Ripley’s! Over 500 astonishing and unusual artifacts collected from the far-corners of the world. All guaranteed real and mind boggling. Join us for your challenge to simply… Believe It or Not!”
Ober Gatlinburg Spring and Summer ActivitiesOber Gatlinburg– If you are coming in the winter, Ober Gatlinburg is one of the obvious winter activities, providing a venue for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, and more! As I’m writing this, though, its Spring, and you may not know that Ober Gatlinburg is a year round attraction! This time of year you can still enjoy the aerial tramway, alpine slide, ice skating, wildlife encounters, scenic chairlift, Amaze’N Maze, a carousel, chair swing ride, Blue Cyclone Rapids waterslide (in the summer), Kiddie Land & Rides, mini golf, arcade, and raft & shoot rides. Come enjoy the Spring and Summer side of Ober!
Ole Smoky Moonshine DistilleryOle Smoky Moonshine Distillery– “Our families were among the early settlers of the Smoky Mountains – they came to the Smokies through Virginia and North Carolina. They honed the art of whiskey making in order to survive during tough economic times. Most families from this area share a history of a family member making, running or selling whiskey. This is a local family business. Our whiskey is born in the fertile soil of East Tennessee farms where our corn is raised and then transported to our family’s mill to be ground for Tennessee’s original moonshine. At the distillery, you can see the grains converted into the clear corn liquor this part of the country is famous for.”
Honorable Mentions: Space Needle, Fannie Farkle’s, Cosmic Comet Arcade, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure


The Pancake PantryPancake Pantry– “Since 1960 when the Pancake Pantry became Tennessee’s first pancake house, visitors to Gatlinburg have made dining with us a tradition. What keeps them coming back? It’s the real butter, the honest-to-goodness fresh whipped cream and everything made from scratch. And it’s also the warm atmosphere of century-old brick, rich oak and rustic copper.”
Best ItalianBest Italian– The name says it all, eh? Open for lunch and dinner, we at ERA In the Smokies are partial to the offerings at Best Italian. Located between traffic lights #8 and #10, Best Italian is open for both lunch and dinner, and is known for their community involvement. In 2010 (as well as one or two other years!), they catered the dinner for the 12th Annual ERA for MDA Golf Benefit & Auction. Thanks guys…and save some Tenderloin Tips Marsala for me.
Smoky Mountain BrewerySmoky Mountain Brewery– “Described as a cross between a ski lodge and a Bavarian beer hall, the Smoky Mountain Brewery features an enclosed deck overlooking Calhoun’s Village with the Smoky Mountains in the background. Popular with hikers, skiers and snowboarders, the Brewery is a great place to take a break from any activity in the Smokies. Great food, micro brewed beer, TV’s and nightly entertainment make this one of Gatlinburg’s favorite places to eat and entertain.”
Honorable Mentions: Howards Restaurant, Calhouns, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Brass Lantern Restaurant


NOC's Great Outpost NOC’s Great Outpost– “NOC’s Great Outpost combines Gatlinburg’s colorful, exciting atmosphere with the Smoky Mountains’ aura of splendor and adventure. At this must-see retail attraction, we’ll provide the gear and guidance you need to maximize your Smoky Mountain vacation.Visit us for the region’s largest selection of top outdoor gear and apparel, National Park souvenirs and local arts and crafts.”
Aunt Mahalia's CandiesAunt Mahalia’s Candies– “Situated in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we’ve been cooking up Old Fashioned Goodness For Over 50 Years! Some of our heavenly candies include Fudge, Chocolate, Crunchy Brittle, Fluffy Divinity, Heavenly Fudge, Homemade Assortment, Pecan Logs, Pecan Nests, Pecan Puffs, Stick Candy, Sugar Free, and Taffy Logs. Fine chocolate, select pecans…Only the freshest, finest ingredients have been going into Aunt Mahalia’s Candies since 1939.”
The Donut FriarDonut Friar– This little place is a must-visit! The owner is great, and even brings free donuts by the office a couple times a year! The donuts are to die for, and you can see by the enormity of fabulous reviews that this is one place you can’t afford to miss.
Honorable Mention: The Hayloft Comfort Footwear

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.