Statement from Blue Ridge Parkway on the Resumption of Winter Operations

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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With the enactment of the continuing resolution, staff along the Blue Ridge Parkway resumed regular winter operations beginning Monday, January 28, 2019. The National Park Service reminds visitors to remain patient as Parkway staff begin to assess road conditions on the sections of Parkway that remain closed due to debris and winter weather conditions.

“Employees along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway are glad to be back at work,” said Superintendent J.D. Lee. “We are so grateful to the committed Parkway staff, partners and neighbors that supported the Parkway during the lapse in appropriations. We had several weather events before and during the lapse that will continue to impact Parkway travel in the coming days and weeks. We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation as we prioritize work to provide access to this special resource.”

In response to ever changing road conditions, the National Park Service maintains an online tool that allows visitors to monitor openings and closings along the historic, 469-mile route using an interactive, real time road map. The map allows visitors to zoom in on specific sections of the Parkway, provides current road closure information, and serves as an essential Parkway planning tool for park visitors, especially in the winter.

Winter weather can impact the Parkway for extended periods given a number of variables including the route’s north facing slopes, tunnels, high elevations, and limited sight distances. Limited snow and ice removal may take place, however the Parkway’s natural resource protection priorities limit the use of ice melting chemicals. Park rangers monitor conditions in affected areas and open the road as soon as safe travel can resume.

For more information about winter operations on the Parkway and to access a park road closure map please visit

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Smokies Resumes Full Operations

Monday, January 28, 2019

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With the enactment of the continuing resolution, staff at Great Smoky Mountains National Park resumed regular operations beginning Saturday, January 26. Many basic services were accessible to visitors on weekends and holiday periods throughout the shutdown period using a combination of partner funds and revenue generated by recreation fees. Park visitor centers are now accessible seven days a week and reservation services for the frontcountry and backcountry are fully operational.

Visitors may experience delayed openings this spring at some park campgrounds, picnic areas, and seasonal roads due to a reduced timeline for seasonal staff hiring and project planning. An updated park operating schedule will be posted on as soon it is available.

“On behalf of the employees of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to our partners and communities for their unwavering support over the last five weeks,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “In addition to the monetary support offered by our partners to provide basic visitor services, we were moved by the number of people and organizations who stepped up to organize litter pickups and the outpouring of generosity expressed to our employees through meals and gift cards.”

All park staff, including biologists, engineers, education rangers, and administrators have resumed work functions critical for year-round park operations. Employees are glad to be back at work protecting resources and assisting visitors in having a safe and enjoyable experience. If you are interested in helping take care of the park, please visit for more information on how to become a volunteer.

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Statement on reopening of national parks following the lapse of appropriations

Saturday, January 26, 2019

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Statement on reopening of national parks following the lapse of appropriations, attributable to P. Daniel Smith, Deputy Director, National Park Service:

Following the enactment of the continuing resolution, the National Park Service is preparing to resume regular operations nationwide though the schedule for individual parks may vary depending on staff size and complexity of operations.

Many parks which have been accessible throughout the lapse in appropriations remain accessible with basic services.

Visitors should contact individual parks or visit park websites for their opening schedules and the latest information on accessibility and visitor services. Some parks which have been closed throughout the lapse in appropriations may not reopen immediately, but we will work to open all parks as quickly as possible.

We appreciate the support of state and local partners nationwide who stepped up to offer support to national parks. We are grateful to have the dedicated men and women of the National Park Service back at work, serving the American people and welcoming visitors to their national parks.

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Appalachian Trail Conservancy Brings Greater Focus to Importance of Wild East Coast Landscapes

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is inviting nature lovers everywhere to celebrate the beauty and importance of eastern United States landscapes with the launch of “Wild East,” an initiative bringing greater attention to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and the lands surrounding its 2,192-mile length from Maine to Georgia.

Wild East highlights the wildlife, forests, night skies and other natural wonders found along the Trail, as well as the welcoming communities, recreation opportunities and cultural history that have made the A.T. a world-renowned destination, all of which is within a day’s drive for 55 percent of Americans. The initiative also brings greater focus to the threats to the Trail and its surrounding ecology including urban sprawl, poorly-planned infrastructure projects and the impacts of climate change.

"Through Wild East, we will show how the Appalachian Trail is the link that ties together the most impressive views on the East Coast and creates a vital pathway for migratory birds and wildlife,” said ATC President and CEO Suzanne Dixon. "Our ultimate goal is to show how vital the A.T. is for the eastern United States, leading more and more people to join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission to preserve the A.T. and the remaining open spaces surrounding it as a natural retreat for all of us to enjoy.”

In collaboration with artist and astronomer Dr. Tyler Nordgren, the ATC has commissioned an eye-catching poster to celebrate the launch of Wild East. The poster speaks to the legacy of the Trail as an American adventure while also bringing attention to landscapes, animals and communities that embody the A.T. experience. The poster will be available to those who become members of the ATC or make a donation to its mission to maintain and protect the Trail.

For more information about Wild East and to get involved today, visit

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Friends of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association to Reopen Park Visitor Centers for MLK Jr. Weekend

Friday, January 18, 2019

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Friends of the Smokies announced Friday that it will temporarily fund the reopening of Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C., from Friday through Monday, Jan. 18-21.

Visitation to the park is expected to increase during these dates due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. Both visitor centers will be open Friday from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Following the closure Monday evening, the two visitor centers will again close until federal funding is restored and the park fully reopens.

“We are proud to commit funding for the visitor centers and restrooms to reopen during the holiday weekend in order for rangers to provide a safe and enjoyable visitor experience,” Friends of the Smokies Executive Director Tim Chandler said. “Any opportunity to work with our partners to preserve and protect America’s most-visited national park is a welcome one, and Friends of the Smokies stands at the ready to provide further support.”

Friends of the Smokies will provide funds for park rangers in the Resource Education division to reopen the visitor centers and provide information services to park visitors. Additional funds from Friends of the Smokies will be used for park employees to clean, reopen and maintain the restroom facilities at these two locations during the temporary opening. Employees of Great Smoky Mountains Association will staff park stores at both locations. All GSMA sales support Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“We are incredibly grateful for Friends’ contribution,” Laurel Rematore, Chief Executive Officer of Great Smoky Mountains Association, added. “We appreciate every chance we have to help park visitors learn more about this park’s resources through sales of our ranger-approved merchandise.”

At the direction of the National Park Service last week, revenue generated by recreation fees is currently being used to clean and maintain restrooms at Newfound Gap, Cable Mill in Cades Cove, Smokemont Campground and Deep Creek Picnic Area. This federal funding also allowed the reopening of Cades Cove Campground and Picnic Area, including restrooms, and maintenance of Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend Wye and Foothills Parkway East. The visitor center at Cable Mill in Cades Cove is currently open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. using this federal funding with staffing provided by GSMA.

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Mysterious Vanishings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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The following is a guest blog from the Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company:

The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States. It greets more than 10 million visitors annually. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park consists of over 522,000 acres, and sits along the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. Although the vast majority of visitors to the park have idyllic stays on the property, every once in a while something goes amiss. On this list of strange occurrences in the park are the disappearances of four people that have yet to be solved.

The Disappearance of Dennis Martin: Was a Wild Mountain Man Involved?

Dennis Martin was a six year old child who was enjoying the park with his family on June 14, 1969. While at the park, Dennis played a game of hide and seek with his brother and other children. During the game, Dennis seemed to disappear.

His family spent a few hours attempting to find him themselves. After that time, they notified the National Park Service. Ultimately, not only the Park Service, but the National Guard became involved in the search for Dennis. All told more than 1,400 people assisted in trying to locate the missing boy.

A trio of theories has persisted in regard to the missing child. First, some people maintain that the boy became lost and died of exposure or some other cause shortly after he went missing.

A second theory is that the child was attacked by a bear or even a feral pig.

The boy’s father espouses a third theory - that his son was abducted. This theory stems from a report by another park tourist named Harold Key, made three days after Dennis vanished. Key reported that he heard what he described as an “enormous, sickening scream.” Not long after hearing the scream, Key witnessed a man carrying something over his shoulder. Key wasn’t able to state without reservation that the man was carrying a child, but that was his impression.

Sometime before Dennis disappeared, a park ranger was attacked by what was described as a “wild mountain man.” There were individuals described as wild men living in the park at the time Dennis disappeared. The FBI has never been able to absolutely confirm that this is what happened to Dennis. Investigators indicate that there is insufficient evidence to support this theory, but they nonetheless have not ruled it out.

A few years later, another visitor evidently came upon the scattered skeletal remains of a child. He did not report what he saw for about 15 years for fear of being prosecuted. A search in 1985 revealed nothing and no charges were ever brought against the man that reported the finding of the skeletal remains.

Trenny Gibson and a School Trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

16-year old Trenny Gibson was on a school trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when she disappeared on October 18, 1976. She was hiking with about 40 of her classmates at the time of her disappearance. The students broke up into smaller groups, depending on their hiking ability. Only one teacher and the bus driver were on site supervising all of the children. Trenny was last seen while hiking in an area that had sharp drop-offs down to an area with considerable underbrush.

There are two prevalent theories about what happened to Trenny. One of her classmates believed that Trenny disappeared of her own free will. This classmate was under the impression that Trenny made arrangements for someone to meet her in the park, and she planned to leave with that individual.

The second theory involves a classmate named Robert. Trenny’s hair comb was found in his car after she disappeared.

Robert and Trenny had something of a history. Robert had attempted to break into Trenny’s family home. Trenny’s mother shot the boy during the break-in attempt. After being shot, Robert is alleged to have said he would exact revenge on Trenny. The police evidently looked into this theory but concluded that there was a lack of evidence to support it.

Golden Years Brought to an End: The Disappearance of Polly Melton

Polly Melton and her husband were enjoying their Golden Years in an Airstream trailer. Together with 10 other couples, they stayed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in September 1981.

One afternoon while in the park, Polly went for a hike with some of her friends. During the hike Polly started walking briskly and got ahead of her friends. She was never seen again.

An intensive investigation was undertaken in the park to try and find Polly. The efforts produced no results and no evidence of her whatsoever.

Several months later a check made payable to Polly was cashed. Upon examination, the check did appear to bear Polly’s authentic signature. Unfortunately, the bank teller who cashed the check had no recollection of what the person who presented it looked like.

Derek Leuking and the Note Not to Follow

The fourth unsolved vanishing in the park involved Derek Leuking, a man in his early twenties. Derek had visited the park alone on March 17, 2012. He had left his car in a parking lot, filled with all of his gear. He left a note on his windshield that read “Don’t try to follow me.” Despite the admonition not to be followed, a search was undertaken when Derek was reported missing.

In the fall of that year, for a brief moment, investigators thought they may have found Derek’s remains. In fact, another young man went missing around the same time as Derek. The remains were determined to be those of the other missing young man. No sign of Derek has yet been found since his disappearance in 2012.

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"Ramble On: A History of Hiking" Now Available on Kindle eBook

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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I’m very excited to announce that my new book on the rich history of hiking is now available on Kindle eBook. Ramble On: A History of Hiking was originally published as a print-only book back in September. As of today, it's now available as an eBook.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the 19th century, the first trails built specifically for hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel. It also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you would like to read a short excerpt from the book on the "True Realities of Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era", please click here. You can also read published reviews from the Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Parks Traveler.

To order your copy now, please click here. Once again, thank you very much!

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Smokies to Restore Accessibility and Some Basic Visitor Services

Monday, January 14, 2019

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced today that recently closed areas of the park will once again be accessible to visitors beginning yesterday, January 13. Some basic visitor services, including campgrounds and restrooms, will reopen using revenue generated by recreation fees.

Areas that have been recently closed but that will be accessible to park visitors in the near future include:

• Cades Cove Campground and Picnic Area, including restrooms
• Restrooms at the Smokemont Campground
• Restrooms at the Deep Creek Picnic Area
• Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend Wye
• Foothills Parkway East

National Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement Act funds to immediately bring back park maintenance crews to maintain roads and some basic services, the park will be able to restore accessibility to the park for visitors while ensuring health and safety. Maintenance crews will reopen and maintain the restrooms listed above in addition to continuing to clean the restrooms that were temporarily reopened last week at Newfound Gap and the Cades Cove Visitor Center by the Friends of the Smokies. Most park facilities will remain closed including Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers. Great Smoky Mountains Association is donating services to reopen the Cades Cove Visitor Center near Cable Mill. Trash removal from dumpsters across the park will continue through a preexisting contract.

“We greatly appreciate the generous contributions of park partners who have provided funding to staff visitor centers over the holidays and keep bathrooms at Newfound Gap and Cable Mill open during the lapse in appropriations,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Their efforts have contributed significantly to our ability to restore access and basic services to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

Roads and trails that are seasonally open will be maintained and remain accessible to visitors on a prioritized basis. Road crews will plow roads, remove downed trees, and clear small landslides along heavily used roadways including the Spur, Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and the Cades Cove Loop Road. These operational efforts will be performed with reduced staffing using revenues from recreation fees. Road closures due to weather events may result in significantly longer closures than normal, and some remote, lesser used roads may remain closed until a return of full staffing.

The park website will remain accessible, but it will not be updated with any current information. Park social media accounts will continue to be suspended during the shutdown period. Information and images from webcams, including the Newfound Gap webcam, will remain accessible at

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Upcoming Friends of the Smokies Events For Hikers

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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The Friends of the Smokies will be holding several events for hikers across North Carolina over the next several weeks. This includes Smokies 101 and the Smokies 900-Miler Challenge Panel.

The Smokies 101 program will discuss the park's iconic trails, day-hiking tips and ideas, wildlife viewing opportunities, information about the Appalachian Trail, as well as suggestions for camping. They will also cover topics like the elk in the Cataloochee Valley, the Mountain Farm Museum, bear safety tips, as well as the North Carolina visitor centers and entrances. This program will be held on:

* February 5 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm at the REI in Charlotte
* February 21 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at the REI in Asheville

The Smokies 900-Miler Challenge Panel will be an open discussion about the Smokies 900-Miler Challenge - that is, hiking all the trails in the national park. The panel will feature perspectives from three people who have completed the challenge. They will be sharing tips on how you can complete the challenge. This program will be held on:

* February 19 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm at the Nantahala Brewing – Asheville, NC Outpost
* March 4 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at the REI in Greenville

For more information, and to register, please click here.

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First Day Hikes Break State Park Records

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

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First Day Hikes offered at all of North Carolina’s state parks on New Year’s Day brought a record 3,859 people to join 57 guided hikes across the state. Mild, dry weather made the hikes more attractive than those in 2018, which were marred by rain and winter weather.

To start the new year, hundreds of dogs, two llamas and a goat joined their human companions on various hikes. Participants ranged in age from newborn to 95 years young. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park set a record for their park’s first day hike program with 300 participants.

Many traditional events continued, including the First Day 5-K at Haw River, the Polar Plunge at Hanging Rock and the Two State, One Hike partnership between Crowders Mountain State Park in N.C. and Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina.

“I was thrilled to see so many North Carolinians in our parks, particularly the record number at Cliffs of the Neuse,” said state parks Director Dwayne Patterson, who grew up in Kinston near the park. “These hikes were a great start to the year for people of all ages, and I look forward to millions more people enjoying healthy outdoor recreation activities at our beautiful state parks throughout the year.”

Nationally, First Day Hikes is promoted by America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors, with more than 400 hikes scheduled in state parks across the country. In North Carolina, the tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago. All N.C. state parks have offered first day hikes since 2012.

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Statement on Protecting National Parks while Providing the American People Continued Access during the Lapse of Appropriations

Monday, January 7, 2019

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The following is a statement from P. Daniel Smith, Deputy Director of the National Park Service:

“During the lapse of appropriations, the men and women of the National Park Service who have remained on duty have gone to incredible lengths to keep America’s iconic national parks as accessible as possible to the American public. Thanks to the strong relationships that many national parks have built with partners across the country, a number of states, private concession companies, and park nonprofit groups have stepped up to provide over two million dollars’ worth of donations and in-kind services to help over forty parks continue to provide key services for visitors.

“As the lapse in appropriations continues, it has become clear that highly visited parks with limited staff have urgent needs that cannot be addressed solely through the generosity of our partners.

“Over the last few days the Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt and the National Park Service (NPS) have explored a number of options to address the maintenance and sanitation issues that have arisen at a number of highly visited parks while keeping our commitment to the American public to ensure they have access to their lands.

“The NPS currently has funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other fees collected from park visitors that would typically be used for future projects at parks. After consultation with the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior, it has been determined that these funds can and should be used to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks during the lapse in appropriations.

“We are taking this extraordinary step to ensure that parks are protected, and that visitors can continue to access parks with limited basic services.

“In the coming days the NPS will begin to use these funds to clean up trash that has built up at numerous parks, clean and maintain restrooms, bring additional law enforcement rangers into parks to patrol accessible areas, and to restore accessibility to areas that would typically be accessible this time of year. While the NPS will not be able to fully open parks, and many of the smaller sites around the country will remain closed, utilizing these funds now will allow the American public to safely visit many of our nation’s national parks while providing these iconic treasures the protection they deserve.

“Visitors should go to and select “Find a Park” for additional information on access to parks and sites in a particular area.”

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Rabid Black Bear Found Dead in NC

Friday, January 4, 2019

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A black bear found dead in Hyde County has tested positive for rabies — the first known case of a rabies positive black bear in the state, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Johnny Dale, of Fairfield, contacted the Commission on Dec. 17 after finding the yearling male bear dead at his game feeder. Dale reported he first observed the male bear the day before at his game feeder and that it was alive, but very lethargic and unable to move. Because the cause of death was not obvious, Commission personnel conducted an initial necropsy (autopsy performed on animals) and sent the bear to researchers at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia for further testing. On Dec. 21, SCWDS informed the Commission the bear had rabies, which had resulted in its death.

Rabies is a fatal disease, which can affect all mammals, causing inflammation in the brain with symptoms that can include lethargy, loss of balance, fever, anorexia, and/or eye and nose discharge. Signs progress within days and can include fever; swelling in the head, neck, tongue or eyelids; excessive salivation; difficulty breathing; difficulty swallowing, vomiting; paralysis; abnormal behavior, self-mutilation, aggression, and/or no fear of humans.

“Rabies in wild black bears is extremely rare; it has been documented only four times in the lower 48 states since 1999,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist. “You can only get rabies by coming in direct contact with the saliva, tears, or brain/nervous tissue of an infected animal.”

The Commission offers the same precautions to bear hunters as it does for deer hunters to prevent disease transmission:

•Do not handle or eat any animal that is acting abnormal or appears to be sick.
•Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing; never handle a dead animal with your bare hands. •Minimize the handling of the brain and spinal cord.
•Do not allow pets around your field dressing area to prevent contact with saliva, blood and other tissues.
•Wash hands, boots and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
•If a deer or bear is commercially processed, request that animal be processed individually and without meat from other animals.
•Use proper cooking temperatures to ensure safe food.

Anyone who encounters a black bear exhibiting disease symptoms or comes across a dead black bear should call the Commission’s N.C. Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401. The call center is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On weekends, please call 800-662-7137.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health was contacted and provided recommendations to Dale regarding post-exposure treatment.

For more information about black bears in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s black bear webpage.

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10 Amazing Things to do in Gatlinburg

Thursday, January 3, 2019

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The following is a guest blog from Westgate Resort:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a visit to the extraordinary Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Indeed, this national treasure is a primary reason why innumerable people come to Gatlinburg every year. Indeed, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, with over 10 million guests in any given year.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits on over 522,000 acres and sits on the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. A visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can include activities like:

· Hiking
· Biking
· Horseback riding
· Historical exhibits
· Scenic drives
· Exploring amazing vistas

Another of the great features of the Park is cost. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of only a few in the country that does not charge an admissions fee.

Mountain Moonshine Tastings

Like many people, you may have participated in wine tastings. You may have toured a “wine country,” – there are a lot of them today. But, odds are you’ve yet to experience a mountain moonshine tasting. And, that’s something you’ll definitely want to consider doing when in Gatlinburg.

There are two main destinations of choice in Gatlinburg when it comes to moonshine tasting, Sugarlands Distilling Company and Ole Smoky Distillery welcome folks the year around.

Tennessee Homemade Wines

If you’d prefer a more traditional wine tasting, Gatlinburg does not disappoint. Tennessee Homemade Wines presents vintages made from area fruit and crafted by area residents. Tennessee Homemade Wines offers you the chance to enjoy a great wine tasting among some of the friendliest folks around.

Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Loop

If you’re an art enthusiast, or if you have an interest in authentic Appalachian crafts, make time for the Great Smoky Mountain Arts and Crafts Loop when in Gatlinburg. The Loop gives a whole new meaning to an art walk. You can elect to stroll the Loop. There is also a trolley available as well.

You will be able to watch mountain artisans and craftspeople make a myriad of stunning items – from pottery to painting to baskets and other attractive pieces. The Loop also features five galleries that feature local, regional, national, and even international collections. There are over 100 shops and galleries featured on the Loop.

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram

If you want a birds-eye view of the city of Gatlinburg and the magnificent Smoky Mountains, you will want to take a ride on the Ober Garlinburg Aerial Tram. You board the tram in downtown Gatlinburg. The ride takes you over 2 miles up 11,000 feet to a mountain peak. At the top, you will be able to enjoy everything from a small zoo to shopping and dining (among other things).

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre hearkens back to another area, to the music halls of the late 19th century. At Sweet Fanny Adams you will be able to see family-friendly variety shows that include song and dance, magic, and a healthy helping of audience participation. The two hour shows are highly affordable.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

Another must-see destination in Gatlinburg is the 407-foot Gatlinburg Space Needle. At the top of the Space Needle, you are afforded tremendous views of the beautiful Smoky Mountains as well as of the city itself. The Space Needle comes complete with educational exhibits that present the history of the area. The Space Needle is home to Arcadia, a 25,000 square foot arcade, and a pizza parlor, Slice Pizza.

Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area

The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area is open year around. In the wintertime, visitors can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Snow tubing is also available for people who neither ski not board. The Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area also has a fun amusement park, with special features for the kids. You can access the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area either by car (weather permitting) or a tram from downtown.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

A popular destination for the kids, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies presents opportunities to get up close to a broad spectrum of interesting and beautiful marine animals. In addition to taking a gander at these creatures, guests have the opportunity to pet a penguin or swim with a stingray.

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster is another family friendly activity. This coaster puts you in charge, with individual cabs, complete with personal braking. The coaster takes you on a delightful ride through the natural splendor of the area.

In considering the Gatlinburg scene, it truly can be said that there is something for everyone. Indeed, there are many destinations that a visitor to the city definitely will want to take in.

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