Early Snow Covers These Mountains- 2012

Hurricane Sandy affected many lives over the past week, and we send our prayers and thoughts out to those who are struggling and may have suffered loss.

One effect of this storm in several areas of the country has been snow, and lots of it! Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains are included in this early snow! Below you will find some beautiful photos and links to more information. Enjoy!

Read this article from the Chattanooga Times Free PressRead this article from KnoxNews.comRead this article from KnoxNew.comRead this article from the KnoxNews.comRead the High on LeConte Blog and see more beautiful photos

Advertisements

Clingman’s Dome Road In Winter

Last year, I 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 roundtrip! 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! I wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, so we skied 2 miles in and 2 miles out.

It is amazing how much it snowed last 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 our skis as the day warmed up.

My Snow Bear!After an hour or so, we took a break and I decided to build a snowman! Over the next half hour I had a blast building my creation which ended up being a snowbear! At first I was sad to leave him, but I’m glad that I don’t have to watch him melt! Hopefully he will make a few people smile as they pass by in the next few days!

Got Skis?

Unfortunately I 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, my 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 – I actually found a few used pairs in the Knoxville area!

SkiingIf you decide to try out Clingman’s Dome Road this winter, I hope you have fun! I parked right by 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 I am not sure which is best. 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. I only wore my jacket for about 5 minutes! Then it stayed in my backpack for the rest of the day.

Top 10 Reasons I like Cross-Country Skiing

I will leave you with my Top 10 Reasons why I like Cross-Country Skiing. I am also a snowboarder, but the more I cross-country ski, the more I prefer it to snowboarding*! Here’s why:

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

*Nothing against snowboarding. I still love snowboarding!

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.

Let It Snow!

Subscribe to A Day In The Smokies!Snow is more controversial than I ever thought possible! We have quite a few people who come here looking, hoping, praying for snow. We also have several people who are afraid of snow, or rather what it might do to the roads. In Gatlinburg we do occasionally get some snow, although rarely more than an inch. And it usually melts the next day. Here are some tips on how to enjoy (or survive) the winter weather here in the mountains!

Rent a Cabin in the Higher Elevations!1. Finding the Snow!
If you are one of those people who wants the snow, be encouraged! Just rent a cabin in a higher elevation, and chances are, if there’s the slightest chance of precipitation, it’ll snow at your cabin. If it doesn’t snow at your cabin while you’re here, stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and ask the nice folks there if they know of any snow in the National Park that you could get to. On the higher elevations, once it snows, the mountains usually keep that white on their tops for the rest of the winter!

You don't need a Hummer, but 4 wheel drive is a good idea!!2. Avoiding Icy Mishaps!
Since they can’t control the weather, cabin rental companies don’t give refunds due to weather or road conditions. Besides, you’re coming to the mountains to enjoy the mountains! If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, or can borrow one from a friend or rent one, we recommend this. If not, invest in chains for your tires. Our Wal-Mart here sells them for just $25-$65, depending on tire size. Well worth the investment! If you would still rather just avoid the steep hills altogether, make sure to ask your reservationist for a cabin that has no steep hills to get to. This can be very difficult to find around here, so be sure to book early.

Check the weather for Gatlinburg!3. Timing is everything!
Check the weather before you come. And once you’re here, check your radio, TV, or newspaper for regular weather updates. If there is a chance of snow or ice, plan to do your driving in Gatlinburg at the warmest, sunniest time of day. Don’t wait to go out and about, or wait to head back to your cabin, til after dark, when it will be colder, harder to see, and more difficult to find help if you need it. Don’t stay out much past 7pm, if there is any chance of bad weather. Get to your cabin and snuggle down for a cozy evening. Try to plan your vacation so that you don’t have to leave your cabin early in the morning. (It’s vacation, you want to sleep in anyway!) Give the sun a chance to thaw out the roads for you. If you feel it absolutely necessary to be out early in the morning, remember that 4-wheel drive and/or chains, and maybe even bring a bag of rock salt with you just in case.

Go Snow Tubing at Ober Gatlinburg!4. Enjoy The Adventure That Comes To You!
The snow is absolutely gorgeous! Just imagine waking up to a winter wonderland! Don’t be a worry wart and ruin you and your family’s vacation! Enjoy it! Go sledding! Build a snowman! Snow angels! A fort or igloo! Head to Ober Gatlinburg and try skiing or snow tubing!

Get Some Great Deals This Winter!5. Be Prepared!
Here are some things to have with you:
* 4 wheel drive vehicle and/or chains for your tires
* rock salt
* windshield ice scraper
* flashlight
* starter log and matches or lighter if you have a wood-burning fireplace
* plenty of food
* hot chocolate!
* coffee
* sled
* an adventurous spirit
* a smile!

Now that we’re all ready… Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!!

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information 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- 2011

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, Smith Family Theater, Country Tonight, Tennessee Shindig, Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, and the Comedy Barn! First Baptist Sevierville will put on a magnificent Singing Christmas Tree on Dec 4 & 5 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 25 & 26 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 Santa’s Workshop, where larger-than-life-sized toys and an 18-foot-tall Christmas tree fill guests of all ages with wide-eyed wonder as they discover a giant wagon, sailboat, dollhouse and more amid the hustle and bustle as Santa and his helpers ready for their big night! Santa’s also the star of the Parade of Lights, along with a cast of brightly lit floats and colorful characters.”

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! For a preview of this year’s light display, watch this video! 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 2, beginning at 7:30 pm. Over the course of about an hour and a half, a stunning array of parade entries, marching bands, giant helium balloons, and even the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, 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 Thanksgiving week, November 22 – December 4. 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 2012 in unique style with its 24th Annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show at the Space Needle late Friday night, December 31. At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2012, 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.”

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

Get 2 Nights FREE!

Clingman’s Dome Road in Winter

Yesterday, I cross-country skied on Clingman’s Dome Road.Clingman's Dome RoadThis 7-mile road leads up to the highest point in the SmokiesClingman’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 roundtrip! 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!  I wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, so we skied 2 miles in and 2 miles out.

It is amazing how much it has snowed so far this winter here in the Smokies!  It’s made for some treacherous driving, but has also been 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 our skis as the day warmed up.

My Snow Bear!After an hour or so, we took a break and I decided to build a snowman!  Over the next half hour I had a blast building my creation which ended up being a snowbear!  At first  I was sad to leave him, but I’m glad that I don’t have to watch him melt!  Hopefully he will make a few people smile as they pass by in the next few days!

Got Skis?

Unfortunately I don’t know of ANY places around here that rent cross-country skis or snowshoes.  Usually we don’t get this 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, my 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 – I actually found a few used pairs in the Knoxville area!

SkiingIf you decide to try out Clingman’s Dome Road this winter, I hope you have fun!  I parked right by 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 I am not sure which is best.  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.  I only wore my jacket for about 5 minutes!  Then it stayed in my backpack for the rest of the day.

Top 10 Reasons I like Cross-Country Skiing

I will leave you with my Top 10 Reasons why I like Cross-Country Skiing.  I am also a snowboarder, but the more I cross-country ski, the more I prefer it to snowboarding*!  Here’s why:

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

 *Nothing against snowboarding.  I still love snowboarding!

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: Smoky Mtn Romance

Click Here to Subscribe to our Blog by Email!Looking for a special way to spend Valentine’s with your sweetheart? Come to the Gatlinburg, the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains, and spend a fun-filled romantic week or just the weekend. Whether you are looking to pop the question, get married, or just canoodle, Gatlinburg is bound to have the perfect thing for you to do or see. Here are some of our favorites:

This bed is in "Above the Rest" at Winfield Heights!1. Rent a Cabin. Nothing says romance like a little log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re looking for a rustic cabin with a wood-burning fireplace or the lap of luxury with all the amenities, Gatlinburg offers all the options you can imagine.

Want to soak in a hot tub with a view? Try Chipmunk Haven. Want to enjoy a roaring fire while snuggled into your king-size bed? Try the Above the Rest–one of the cabins at Winfield Heights.

Smoky Mountain Winery2. Winery Tours. Wine may not be the first thing that pops to mind when contemplating what to do in Gatlinburg, but Smoky Mountain Winery opened its doors in 1981. Take a free tour of the production facilities then follow it up with a free tasting of more than 20 available award-winning wines. Take a bottle home to remember your honeymoon, anniversary or romantic getaway weekend!

3. Ski Lodge. Love to ski? Ober Gatlinburg is a great destination for your winter skiing. Don’t ski? Give it a try in ski school. Nothing will bond the two of you like learning something new. And, if ski school doesn’t go well…you can always help nurse each other’s wounded pride.

Rent a Cabin with a View!4. Photography. When everyone has a digital camera, it is easy to forget about having professional portraits taken. Take the stress out of trying to find the perfect stranger walking by to take a picture of you and your honey on vacation. Gary Woods Photography offers location shoots. I love the composition in his outdoor portraits. Trust a professional and capture the memory for a lifetime.

Let It Snow!5. Snow Snow Snow! What happens if you were hoping for snow and don’t see any when you get here? Well, you have to find the snow. Snowfalls of an inch or more occur on average only one to five times per year in the valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains although Gatlinburg has already had two of these snowfalls in December alone. In the high country, over five feet of snow falls most years. If the Newfound Gap Road has not been closed because of snow, a trip to Newfound Gap is your best bet for finding snow. Have fun and dress warm!

Have a Take Out picnic from Best Italian!6. Have a Picnic. No–I haven’t lost my mind. I know it is too cold for most of you to be traipsing into the woods with a blanket and picnic basket. I propose you picnic in your cabin. Rent a movie, start a fire, and order take out from one of Gatlinburg’s great eateries. I recommend a big Italian feast from Best Italian (pictured left) or create your own gourmet picnic of hummus, specialty cheeses, olives and breads from our local Food City. Bon appetite!

Take an Auto Tour of Wildflowers all year 'round!7. Auto-Touring. Too cold to hike? Hiking not your idea of romance? Take an auto-tour. Enjoy some of the Smoky Mountains greatest sites from the comfort of your car.

Some of my favorite Auto-Touring trails are the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, and any section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fill up your tank and hit the open road.

Try out a cabin at Winfield Heights for a spa-like experience!8. Relax. Ready to get away from it all? Try spa services for the ultimate relaxing getaway. Whether you are looking for a pedicure and facial or a joint massage with aroma therapy, About You Salon offers a whole menu of services to suit your fancy.

Try their Signature Mountain Heritage Massage and 10% of the proceeds will go to Friends of the Smokies’ efforts to support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Try the Pancake Pantry for Breakfast!9. Dining for Two. A romantic meal that you don’t have to shop for or cook is always a welcome relief for the cook in your family. Trust me on this one. Gatlinburg restaurants abound.

Whether you are looking for a great steak like those at the Alamo Steakhouse, a gourmet breakfast from the Pancake Pantry, or a indulgent lunch from the Haufbrau House, there is a little something for everyone. By the way, if you love Italian food, Gatlinburg does it well over and over. Check out our Best Italian Food post!

Going to the Chapel...10. Goin’ to the Chapel. Gatlinburg sees the second most weddings in the country each year (surprisingly just behind Las Vegas).

A simply ceremony at a cabin like Bear’s Den can help create a beautiful memory and a place to return for many years to come.

An elaborate wedding at one of the local chapels is easy to plan from afar. And, of course, you can always get married in the only Hard Rock Cafe in the world with a wedding chapel–the Hard Rock Gatlinburg.

Check out our Smoky Mountain Wedding post for more information.

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.

Winter Hiking Safety

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesIcicles on Indian Creek TrailI love hiking in winter!  Why you may ask?  Consider this: 

  • Quiet, peaceful, often private trails
  • Icicles!
  • Animal tracks in the snow
  • Less sweating!
  • It’s the best cure for cabin fever!

If you decide to venture into the woods this time of year, make sure you are prepared!  Here are some important things to bring and keep in mind!

To Wear:

Wool or Synthetic Clothing – (socks especially)  Ever heard the expression “Cotton Kills”?  When cotton gets wet, it gets cold!  Wool (and many synthetics) on the other hand retain heat even when wet.  Wool socks are the best for winter hiking, because odds are, if there is snow on the Capilene by Patagoniaground, your feet WILL get wet!

Layers – Even if you are not feeling all that cold, it is a good idea to bring layers.  If you need to stop moving, (hopefully just for a snack break) your body temperature will drop and you will be happy to have something warm to put on.  Remember to bring at least a hat, gloves and an extra sweater or long sleeve shirt.  Also, wearing a pair of  thermals under your pants will keep you a lot warmer. (remember – no cotton.  try Patagonia’s Capilene bottoms)

Appropriate Footwear – Please don’t go hiking in your summer running shoes!  Heavy duty winter hiking boots with sturdy soles are ideal.  Waterproof GORE-TEX boots are best, but you can probably get by with aYakTrax warm pair of snow boots too.

YakTrax – YakTrax are similar to crampons which help you get a better grip on ice and packed snow.  Unlike crampons, which make me think of hard-core mountain climbing, YakTrax are more for everyday use, including walking on icy steps and driveways.  If you think the trail might be icy, it would be great to have a pair of these in your pack, just in case!

To Bring:

Get a Water Bottle!Water and Snacks – These are important all year round.  You will stay a lot warmer if you are hydrated and have a healthy blood sugar level.  Make sure you bring more water and snacks for longer hikes.

Trail Map – Again, something I ALWAYS have, no matter what time of year. 

Trekking Poles – These are very helpful on icy trails!

Emergency Supplies – These may not be necessary for a 1/2 mile walk, but definitely bring these on longer hikes.

  • Headlamp or Flashlight  – LED lights are best, as they last longer
  • Compass – Don’t rely on only a GPS.Bring your Pocket Knife!
  • Extra batteries – for your headlamp, flashlight or GPS
  • Emergency Shelter
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • First-aid Kit
  • Matches and Firestarter

Safety Tips to Remember:

Never hike alone.

Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return.

Winter daylight hours are shorter, so plan to hike earlier in the day and don’t get stuck in the dark!

Check the weather forecast before you go out.

Day Hikes Only!

All these tips are intended for short day-hikes.  If you are thinking of doing something longer or a winter-camping trip, please do more research!  Backpacking is a lot of fun, but it requires much more preparation and a permit from the Park.

ERA In The Smokies

This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information 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.