15th Annual ERA for MDA Golf Classic

golf banner

ERA In The Smokies is sponsoring their 15th annual ERA for MDA Golf Classic on September 11, 2013. The golf Classic and Live Auction will occur Wednesday, September 11 at Bent Creek Golf Resort on Highway 321 in Gatlinburg, TN. Lunch will be served at 11:00 am, and players will tee off at noon. Teams will be made up of four golfers and players may bring a pre-made team or come alone and be placed in a team. The fee to play in the fund-raising tournament is $100 per player and includes lunch, green fees, cart fees, an embroidered golf shirt, goody bag, dinner and entrance to the live auction held after the tournament. Players will also have the opportunity to win a new car from Taylor Ford in Waynesville, NC during the Hole-In-One Competition.

ERA In The Smokies sponsors the MDA Golf Benefit to raise money to send local children living with Muscular Dystrophy to MDA Camp Discovery in Gainesboro, TN. 100% of the profits of the Benefit and Live Auction go to send local children to camp- no administration fees.


What is MDA?

MDA is a non-profit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases, specifically muscular dystrophy, by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education. Muscular Dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage. These damaged muscles become progressively weaker. Most people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually need to use a wheelchair. Symptoms of the most common variety of muscular dystrophy begin in childhood, primarily in boys. People who have muscular dystrophy may have trouble breathing or swallowing. Their limbs may also be drawn inward and become fixed in that position- a problem called contracture. The heart and other organs may also be affected in some varieties of the disease. There is not cure for muscular dystrophy, but medications and therapy can help slow the progression of the disease.

“MDA campers dream about summer camp all year and often say it’s better than Christmas; some even say it’s changed their lives. Almost all campers agree that it’s “the best week of the year””

MDA camp offers a fun and safe outdoor experience, along with opportunities to engage in a variety of activities such as horseback riding, swimming, adaptive sports, arts and crafts, camp dances and much more. However, if you talk to some of the campers about their experience, they will tell you that the real benefits are the lifelong friendships, the increased self-esteem and confidence and the chance to spend at least one week of the year in a place where physical disabilities are the norm rather than the exception. MDA staff and volunteers assume all camper care, including physical and emotional support, allowing parents much-needed time to attend to their own need and, in some cases, spend some special time with the camper’s siblings.

Businesses or individuals may sponsor a golf hole for $100; signage for the Hole Sponsors will be present at the Hole sponsored on the day of the event. Items and/or services of value are needed for the Live Auction. All sponsors are recognized in the participant program  available on the day of the event. To become a sponsor or player, please call (865)430-3366.


Day Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Click here for Easy Summer Hikes!

There are many different trails to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous. Whether you’re looking for a quiet forest walk and wildflowers or a hike by the river to an amazing waterfall, there is a hike for everyone! Here are a list of the hikes you can complete in a day.

  1. Alum Cave- Features views and interesting geological features. 4.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty
  2. Charlie’s Bunion- 8.0 miles roundtrip
  3. Spruce-Fir Trail- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, 0.4 miles roundtrip
  4. Laurel Falls- Located in Elkmont, 2.3 miles roundtrip and features a historical waterfall and stream
  5. Little Brier Gap- Located in Elkmont, features the Walker Sisters Place and is 2.3 miles roundtrip
  6. Grotto Falls- Located in Gatlinburg/ Mt. Leconte, features waterfalls and is 2.6 miles roundtrip
  7. Schoolhouse Gap- Located in Cades Cove/ Townsend, features a quiet forest hike and wildflowers and is 3.8 miles roundtrip
  8. Baskins Creek Falls- Located in Gatlinburg, features waterfalls and is 3.0 miles roundtrip
  9. Andrews Bald- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, features panoramic views and is 3.5 miles roundtrip
  10. Porter’s Creek Trail- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, streams, flowers and an old growth forest, 4.0 miles roundtrip
  11. Abrams Falls- Located in the Cades Cove area, features waterfalls and is 5.0 miles roundtrip
  12. Little River Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features streams and seasonal wildflowers, 4.9 miles roundtrip
  13. Meigs Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, quiet forest hike, 4.6 miles roundtrip
  14. Hen Wallow Falls- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, 4.4 miles roundtrip
  15. Huskey Gap (Newfound Gap Rd)- Located in Gatlinburg, features a quiet forest walk and is 4.2 miles roundtrip
  16. Chimney Tops- Located in Gatlinburg, features panoramic mountain views and is 4.0 miles roundtrip
  17. Cucumber Gap Loop- Located in Elkmont, features streams and seasonal wildflowers. 5.6 miles roundtrip
  18. Grapeyard Ridge Trail- Located in Greenbrier, features a historical Injun Creek steam engine wreck and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  19. Deep Creek Headwaters- Located in Newfound Gap, features a stream and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  20. West Prong Trail- Located in the Cades Cove area, features a stream and quiet forest walk, 5.4 miles roundtrip
  21. Curry Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.4 miles roundtrip
  22. Sugarland Mountain Trail (lower)- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.0 miles roundtrip
  23. The Jump Off- Located in Newfound Gap, features panoramic mountain view and is 6.5 miles roundtrip
  24. Bullhead Trail- Located in Gatlinburg, features views and interesting geological features, 5.9 miles roundtrip
  25. Sugarland Mountain Trail (upper)- Located in Newfound Gap, features views and solitude, 7.0 miles roundtrip

It is important to always hike prepared. Here is a complied list of things to bring with you on each day hike in the Smokies during the Summer months.

  • Backpack, daypack or fanny packhike gear
  • Rain/Wind shield
  • Supportive Footwear
  • Extra socks
  • Extra clothing
  • Gloves
  • Water: full canteens, water bottles or hydration pack
  • Extra food: high energy snacks
  • Map and/or guidebook
  • Compass
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Watch
  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun protection
  • Toilet paper (in a plastic bag)
  • Money/ ID

Suggested/ Optional Gear:

  • Hiking Pole
  • Bandana
  • Notebook with pencil
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Cell phone
  • Napkins
  • Zip seal plastic bagsAbrams Falls Trail

Include in basic first-aid kit:

  • Roll bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile compresses
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Miscellaneous band aids
  • Twine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • Tissues
  • Plastic bags
  • Small mirror
  • Antibacterial soap/wipes
  • Eye drops
  • Burn Ointment
  • Sunburn lotion
  • Disinfectant cream
  • Decongestant and Antihistamine tabletshiking-first-aid-kit
  • Anti-acids
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Aspirin/ Ibuprofen
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Poison ivy cream/ cleansers
  • Bee sting kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Personal information/ contact person
  • First-aid manual

Safety tips:

Never hike alone, give a family member or friend your hiking itinerary and estimated time of return, always stay on the designated trail, don’t hike too quickly pace yourself, start early, check the weather forecast before heading out, know where to get emergency medical care, watch for signs of heat exhaustion, don’t pack too heavily, never approach wild animals, and remember to always have fun!!

Bill Gladwell, The Mentalist


Bill Gladwell’s new show in Gatlinburg, TN has been voted the #1 show in Gatlinburg by TripAdvisor. The star of the most mind-blowing show in Gatlinburg, Bill Gladwell, combines psychology, suggestion, hypnosis, directed awareness and showmanship to predict and control human behavior as well as perform mental feats that appear supernatural. From Lima, Ohio, Bill wanted to bring a Las Vegas style show to the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Located inside Gatlinburg’s Space Needle at IRIS Theater, his show “Head Case” has been a huge hit with visitors. He predicts what people are thinking by reading their body language among other techniques. His show involves a high level of audience participation both on the stage and from their seats. Bill creates an experience that you will talk about and remember or a very long time.

Bill Gladwell has authored two books and has been featured in many others. His first book sells worldwide and his second book is a best-seller in the fields of Influence and Social Dynamics. Bill has made several appearances on television and in film. Two future films are currently in negotiations.

Bill says:

“The look on a person’s face when they have just witnessed a miracle, whether it be during a performance or some other interaction, is what make me wake up early and go to bed late. When I see that look I know I have created a moment in that person’s life that they will remember forever.”


“My fiance and I went to see “Head Case.” We loved the show! It started right on time. Bill interacts with all of the audience, even the kids. He stays after the show to visit with everyone and answer questions. He is very talented. Next time we visit, we will be sure to go back to the show! We have friends going next month to Gatlinburg, and we have recommended they also go to the show! We look forward to seeing him on America’s Got Talent:)”-TripAdvisor

“What can I say? Thought my wife and I were just going to see a cool show and I ended up being a part of it! Bill got in my head and guessed a childhood pets name from 25 years ago!! Bill will include everyone in his performance either from your seat or on stage.The theatre is small and will fill up fast so buy your tickets in advance or you will miss out on a great show!! We didn’t bring our kid’s on this trip, but Bill’s show is family friendly and we will definitely bring the whole crew next time to his show. I know my kids will enjoy his talent!!”- TripAdvisor

“Great show and experience! Bill had us wondering how he had done things even after we left the show. We loved it so much we will be going back for more shows. My husband and I do not get away often; so when we do, we want to find shows we both will enjoy. We saw Bill on YouTube and wanted to see him in person. We had to go, and we liked that everyone was involved in the audience. Super cool!”-TripAdvisor

Reserve your cabin rental with ERA In The Smokies and walk downtown to see Gatlinburg’s #1 show!!

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies events!

ripleys aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers exclusive events year round. This summer join them in exploring various wonders of the deep and of our very own Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a great place for families to learn about nature and make memories to last a lifetime!

Upcoming events:

family aquarium

Family Night Out- Explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and participate in a variety of family fun scienceexperiments and activities. The staff of Ripley’s Aquarium will teach you and your family fun facts about animals of the sea and are even known to bring live animals out in past demonstrations! This is a great opportunity to be educated while on vacation and take home knowledge to share and awesome family memories. After a night of family fun, you will set up camp in Ripley’s Aquarium Penguin Playhouse and sleep among the arctic birds. This family camp (ages 3 and up) includes Aquarium admission, activities, a late night snack, breakfast and a certificate of participation. The dates this summer for this camp are June 23, 2013, July 14, 2013, and July 28, 2013, lasting from 8:00pm to 9:00 am the next morning. The cost of this camp is $45 plus tax per person, but the cost of the experience gained is priceless.

national_park_service_logoEcoVenture Camp- Explore and learn about environmental issues while inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for an ecoventure! A member of the Ripley’s Aquarium staff will lead you through the park and discuss various environmental issues facing us today. Team up with other campers and calculate your carbon footprint, investigate nature and discover how you can help change the world! This is a one of a kind, life changing experience offered by the Aquarium is one you don’t want to miss! This camp includes admission to the Aquarium, activities, four meals, an ecoventure notebook, a guided youth hike into the Smoky Mountains and a token of participation. The ages for this camp are 11-17. The dates are July 18, 2013, July 25, 2013 and August 1,2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The cost of this adventure is $120 plus tax/ person and $110 plus tas for annual pass holders.


Dinosaurs!- As junior Paleontologists, dig for fossils and follow the path of a Paleontologist. Guests also will get to make their very own fossil to take home! After a day of digging, snooze next to creatures at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! This camp includes admission to the Aquarium, activities, three meals, a field trip the the Gray Fossil Site in Gray, TN and a token of participation. The dates for this camp are July 16, 2013, July

23, 2013 and July 30,2013 from 10:00 am to 9:00am the following day. Ages for this camp are 6-14 and the cost is $99 plus tax/ person and $89 plus tax/ annual pass holder.


Mermaids Swimming Daily!- For a limited time only, Mermaids will be featured in Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! In the months of June and July mermaids can be seen at 12:00 noon,2:00 and 4:00 daily. Meet the mermaids and have your photo taken with them at 11:00am, 1:00 and 3:00.

Ripley’s Aquarium is also featuring “Ripley’s Kid’s Fin-tastic Summer” Monday- Friday from June 21,2013 to July 26, 2013 11:00am-3:00pm. There will be free activities, arts and crafts, games and special performances and appearances on the plaza. Every Friday at 9:00pm there will be free movies under the stars on the plaza (weather-permitting- subject to change). For a calendar of events: ripleysaquariums.com

Stay with ERA In The Smokies and walk downtown to the Smokies Aquarium plaza and join in on all the summer fun!

Groundhog Day 2013 and Winter Activities

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Check out groundhog.org!Our favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, says we are going to have an early spring this year. As exciting as that is, let’s enjoy winter while we can! In an effort to encourage you to take advantage of the remaining winter weather, we thought we would remind you (and ourselves) of all the great things to do in the Smoky Mountains during the winter.

Play in the Snow!1. Play in the Snow. We know this one is obvious, but we couldn’t very well neglect to mention it, could we? What happens if you get to Gatlinburg…and it snows? Well, you play in it, of course. 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. For all the best places to play in the snow, visit our snow post.

See Rainbow Falls!2. Tour the Waterfalls. Winter can be the best time for enjoying waterfalls. Waterfall flows are higher because of greater amounts of snow and rainfall. In addition, there is less uptake by forest plants. Waterfall views and opportunities for photography also improve after the trees have dropped their leaves. Visit our winter waterfall post for some of our favorites.

Where have all the black bears gone?3. Take in the Wildlife. Winter is one of the best times for wildlife viewing in the Smokies. Once the trees have shed their leaves, views into the forest are much longer. Wildlife like elk and deer are active for longer periods during the daylight hours because of the cooler temperatures. What wildlife other than bear and dear might you see? Otter, bob-cat, red fox, gray fox, mink, red squirrel, coyote, and lots of birds. Visit our winter wildlife post for all the details.

Ski at Ober Gatlinburg!4. Skiing Anyone? Ober Gatlinburg offers 8 ski trails serviced by two quad and one double chairlift which keeps you out of lift lines and on the slopes. When temperatures drop, their snow-making equipment blankets 100% of there slopes. Slopes are maintained with the latest in snow-grooming equipment to provide a smoother, more consistent surface creating enjoyable skiing conditions. For more information on skiing in Gatlinburg, visit our Let’s Go Skiing post.

Winter Wildflowers!!5. Winter Wildflowers. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts approximately 100 species of plants that are restricted to a single region of the park. Many of these species are only found in the southern Appalachian Mountains, but some have been documented only inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Think wildflowers only bloom in the Spring? Visit our wildflower post to find flowers year ’round.

ERA In The SmokiesSo never fear…you can always find something to do in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains even in the dead of winter.

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.

Clingman’s Dome Road in Winter

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

Clingman's Dome

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

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

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

Got Skis?

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

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

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

Top 10 Reasons We like Cross-Country Skiing

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

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

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Titanic’s 3rd Annual Ice Carving Competition

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

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

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

You Tube Video of Ice Sculpture Contest at Titanic Branson


ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.