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.

Gatlinburg Photo Contest – WINNER!

Gatlinburg Photo Contest – WINNER!
Photo Contest Category: Festivals & Events

Drum roll Please…..

After receiving hundreds of very nice event photos, we managed to select a few of the best ones as finalists. You can view all of these beautiful photos in our Facebook album (www.facebook.com/ERAInTheSmokies)!

We had to narrow it a little more though, and we managed to select 6 of these to receive special honor:

1st Place Winner!

Photo By Cody Young

Gatlinburg Winter Magic

The City of Gatlinburg magically lights up the winter nights with millions of spectacular lights and lighted displays from November through February. Source: Gatlinburg. com


2nd Runners Up


About Easter Sunrise Service

Gatlinburg’s Annual Easter Sunrise Service will be enhanced by the beauty of the Smokies when the community and its visitors gather at Ober Gatlinburg for this memorable worship service. The 30-40 minute high mountain service will be led by local pastors of the Gatlinburg Ministerial Association. Source: Ober Gatlinburg.com


3rd Runners Up


About Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

From colorful mountain tops to crafts and live entertainment, Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival is a county-wide event throughout the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend. These towns represent a special autumn zone of the Smoky Mountains that transforms itself through fun times, vibrancy of the leaves and hospitality of the locals. Come and stay during this magical time in Tennessee. Fall is the peak time to explore this Smoky Mountain region, which is famous for its fall leaf colors. Take in all of the special attractions and shows during Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. Start dreaming now of crisp cool air. Discover a great vacation package, and plan your autumn vacation itinerary.  Source: Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival.com

Thank You all for participating in this contest, we will have another one soon, theme is a surprise, but go ahead and get your smoky mountains pictures ready! You could be the next lucky winner!

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.”

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!

Gatlinburg, TN Waterfall Season is here!

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Plan your Smoky Mountain Vacation!The Great Smoky Mountains abound with the two ingredients essential for waterfalls—ample rainfall and an elevation gradient. During wet years, peaks like Mt. Le Conte and Clingmans Dome receive over eight feet of rain. This abundant rainfall trickles and rushes down the mountain sides, from high elevation to low, sometimes dropping more than a mile in elevation from the high peaks to the foothills at the park’s boundary.

Every year over 200,000 visitors hike well-worn trails to view Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, Rainbow, and other popular waterfalls in the park. Large waterfalls attract the crowds, but smaller cascades and falls can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park. Here are some of our favorites:

See Waterfalls in Gatlinburg!1. Laurel Falls. The trail is 2.6 miles round trip and considered moderate in difficulty. The trail is paved and is suitable for strollers. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park and parking at the trailhead is limited. The area is especially busy on weekends year-round and on weekdays during summer. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May. To find the trailhead from Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn toward Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead where there are parking areas on both sides of the road.

Find a Deal on a Gatlinburg Cabin!2. Mouse Creek Falls. The 4-mile round trip hike to the waterfall is considered moderate in difficulty. Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade used to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom at the start of the 20th century. At 1.4 miles the trail passes Midnight Hole, a deep, picturesque pool below a 6′ falls. At 2.1 miles a short side trail on the left leads to a bench where hikers can rest and view Mouse Creek Falls which is on the far side of Big Creek. The falls are 45’ in height. To find the trailhead, exit I-40 at Waterville Road (#451). Turn left after crossing the Pigeon River and proceed 2.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight, past the ranger station, to a large parking area at road’s end.

Spend your entire vacation in the National Park!3. Hen Wallow Falls. A 4.5 mile round trip hike. Take the Gabes Mountain Trail which begins from the parking area at the entrance to Cosby Campground. The trip to Hen Wallow Falls is a pleasant walk through hemlock and rhododendron forest. A signed side trail leads to the base of the falls by way of steep switchbacks. Hen Wallow Creek, only two feet wide at the top of the falls, fans out to 20 feet at the base. The waterfall is 90 feet high. The hike to the falls is 4.4 miles round trip and considered moderate in difficulty. Hikers continuing on the Gabes Mountain Trail beyond the falls can enjoy an impressive old-growth forest.

The Smokies are a great place for Family Reunions!4. Indian Creek Falls. An easy 1.6 mile round trip hike will allow you to enjoy two beautiful waterfalls in the Deep Creek area. Walk Deep Creek Trail 0.7 mile to the junction with Indian Creek Trail. On your way you can view elegant Tom Branch Falls located on the far side of Deep Creek. Turn right at the junction with Indian Creek Trail and proceed approximately 200′ to Indian Creek Falls. The falls are 25 feet in height. To find the trailhead, follow the signs through downtown Bryson City, NC to Deep Creek Campground. Continue past the campground to the trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road.

Many sites are a short day trip from Gatlinburg!5. Juney Whank Falls. The trail to the waterfall is 0.8 miles round trip and is considered moderate in difficulty. Juney Whank Falls is divided into an upper and lower section. Both can be viewed from the footbridge which crosses Juney Whank Branch at the falls. Together they drop 90 feet from top to bottom. To find the trailhead, follow the signs through downtown Bryson City, NC to Deep Creek Campground. Continue past the campground to the trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road. Backtrack on foot 0.1 mile along the road to the trail.

We love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!6. Rainbow Falls. The 5.4 mile round trip hike is considered moderate in difficulty. The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte. A rainbow produced by mist from this 80-foot high waterfall is visible on sunny afternoons. During extended winter cold spells, an impressive ice formation builds around the falls. Between trail head and falls, Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500′ in elevation. From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past the Noah “Bud” Ogle homesite to the clearly signed Rainbow Falls parking area.

There is always something to do in the Smokies!7. Ramsey Cascades. The trail to the waterfall gains over 2,000′ in elevation over its 4 mile course and the 8-mile roundtrip hike is considered strenuous in difficulty. It follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. The last 2 miles pass through old-growth cove hardwood forest with large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches. Do not attempt to climb to the top of the falls. Several people have been killed trying to do so. Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of Live on Vacation...Move to the Smokies!the most spectacular. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool where numerous well-camouflaged salamanders can be found. To find the trailhead, drive six miles east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321 and turn at the Greenbrier entrance to the park. Follow the signs 4.7 miles to the trailhead.

Please note that several fatalities and numerous injuries have resulted from people climbing on rocks near waterfalls.

These rocks are very slippery due to algae and mist. Do not attempt to climb to the tops of waterfalls. Closely supervise children at all times near water and waterfalls.

Rent a cabin on the water!
Don’t forget to make the most of your Smoky Mountain Vacation by renting a Gatlinburg Cabin! We even have cabins on the water!

Is there a topic you would like to see covered at A Day In The Smokies? Email us!

1-800-309-0277This 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.

The Smoky Mountains, Salamander Capital of the World!

Jordan's Salamander Did you know the Smoky Mountains are known as the Salamander Capital of the World??

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 30 different salamander species! That’s a lot of salamanders!

One of the most common myths about salamanders is that they are lizards. They are definitely not lizards! Lizards, like snakes and turtles, are reptiles. Reptiles have dry, scaly skin and lay dry eggs on land. Salamanders, like frogs, are amphibians. They have moist, smooth skin, and lay soft, gel-like eggs in water. These are just a few of many differences between amphibians and reptiles!

Finding Salamanders

Have you ever seen a salamander? On your next trip to the Smokies, try to find some! The best places to find salamanders are under rocks and logs in wet areas near streams or mountain seeps.

Northern DuskyWhen you pick up a salamander, make sure your hands are clean and wet. Most of the salamanders in the Smokies breathe through their skin (lungless salamanders!). If you have lotion or insect repellent on your hands, this will harm your new friend!

After you have met your new salamander friend, gently return him to his home. First, put the rock or log back right where you found it. Then, place the salamander next to it and let him crawl back under on his own. (If you lay a log or rock directly on top, you may squish him!)

Who’s Who?

Blue Ridge Two-lined SalamanderThere are so many different salamanders to find here in the Smokies! The salamander seen at the very top of this page is a Jordan’s Salamander, which is special because it occurs only in the Smokies! Another salamander you might see is the Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (left). The salamanders that I seem to find the most often are the Duskies (above). Unfortunately, the dusky salamanders are also the most difficult to identify!

hellbenderThe Smokies are also home to one of the biggest salamanders: the hellbender! Hellbenders are nocturnal and spend most of their time under rocks in rivers, so few people get to see them. If you are among the lucky few to see a hellbender in the wild (I am!), consider yourself fortunate!

Learn More

Reptiles and Amphibians of the SmokiesWant to start learning your salamanders? Here is a great online field guide: Salamanders of Tennessee!

When you arrive in the Smokies, stop by the bookstore at Sugarland’s Visitor Center and pick up a copy of Amphibians and Reptiles of the Smokies. Or buy it online ahead of time!

Books are great, but nothing compares with going out into the field with an expert! Luckily there are some opportunities to do that coming up soon! The annual Wildflower Pilgrimage, at the end of April, includes several salamander identification field trips. If you can’t make it to the Pilgrimage, the Smoky Mountain Field School has salamander and amphibian workshops for families and adults this spring and summer.

ERA In The Smokies Realty & Rentals! 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

PHOTO CONTEST: Smoky Mountain Scenery

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesIt’s time for another photo contest! This time we want to see your best photos of Smoky Mountain Scenery. The winner will be awarded a free 3 night stay in one of our rentals! Send your photos to us at eramarketing@hotmail.com. You may turn in multiple photos. All photos will be considered as individual entries. Win a Free Stay in one of our beautiful Gatlinburg Cabins!Photos must be your original work. It is illegal to claim someone else’s photos as your own. Deadline for turning in your photos is April 30, 2012.

If you don’t have any Smoky Mountain shots yet, come visit, quick! Imagine what beautiful winter and spring photos you could get this time of 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.