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Boat Loads of Fun!

When you think of the Smoky Mountains what do you think of?  Why mountains and streams and hiking trails, shopping and attractions of all sorts.  You may not even be aware that there is a beautiful lake very near all those other wonderful things.  Just a short drive from Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mt National Park is beautiful Douglas Lake, located in Dandridge TN.

Douglas Lake (Douglas Reservoir) was formed in 1943 as a means of flood control and hydroelectric power.  The lake has more than 550 miles of shoreline most of which are privately owned.  The reservoir is 43.1 miles long with a maximum depth of 140 feet.  Douglas Lake is known for it’s large mouth bass, and crappie, but there are plenty of other sport fish in the lake as well.  Best times to fish the lake are spring and fall.

boating

As with all bodies of water, water sports are very popular here, not just fishing but swimming, boating, jet skis and all the associated activities that go along with them.  For those of you who are water lovers I know it doesn’t get much better than getting out on the water and enjoying the sights and sounds offered there.  For a romantic/relaxing time it doesn’t get much better than seeing a beautiful sunset coupled with a beautiful backdrop of water.

 Considered one of the prettiest lakes in Tennessee we hope you will take the short drive and take a day to have some fun on the water. And the purpose of this article is to not only make you aware of the beautiful lake in the area but to arm you with info on ways to get out there and enjoy it. So below I have a listed several marinas in the area that offer boat rentals including paddle boats, pontoons, bass, and speed boats. Some offer rentals on jet ski’s, wave runners and sea doos.  For additional info click on the name of the marina.

Gator Point Marina 

H20 Sports 

Mountain Cove Marina 

Mountain Harbor Inn (Douglas Lake Marina)

Swanns Marina

The Point Resort and Marina 

There is so much beauty and so many ways to enjoy it in the Smoky’s we hope you will take advantage of every single one of them.  Take a day to come enjoy the lake while you are visiting.  Here’s a sneak peak of what’s waiting for you.  Enjoy!

sunset

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Boating

 

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Time Travel Smoky Mountain Style

Take a step back in time as you visit some of the areas I will mention here in the article.   It is a great way to experience the Smokies and learn of it’s diverse history, including the people that once lived  worked and vacationed in the area. History abounds here and you are sure to lose yourself daydreaming of an era long gone but not forgotten.

THE WONDERLAND HOTEL once a vibrant tourist attraction which first opened for business in 1912.  The two story structure had 26 guest rooms, carefully designed so that no two were alike, and each sported a private bath a luxury for that day and time.  The area became The Great Smoky National Park in 1934. The hotel remained opened until 1992 among many changes within the park and life itself.  Unfortunately in1995 fire took some of the structure, in 2006 the rest collapsed.  The park collected some items (boards/windows) and the buildings around the hotel were slated for restoration.  Sadly on April 19th, 2016 a fire also took out the annex.  Today what is left of the hotel along with the entire Elkmont District is listed as one of 11 most endangered places by the national Trust for Historic Preservation. The following was taken in Elkmont District.

elkmont

CEMETARIES IN THE GREAT SMOKY MT NATIONAL PARK   A total of more than 151 known cemetaries exist in the national park some date to the 1800’s. 20 cemetaries around Fontana Lake became inaccessible by land with the building of the dam, still accessible by ferry.  A cemetary also exists in the center of Gatlinburg. For more on White Oak Flats Cemetary check out our earlier blog article Hidden in the Heart of Gatlinburg.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS  The Great Smoky National Park has over 90 historic structures, houses, barns, schools, churches, outbuildings and grist mills.  Check out the map and put a few on your list to see when you visit.

grist mill

CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMP Created during the depression to provide work and wages for young unemployed men many of the trails, bridges, campgrounds and buildings still stand today as a testament to their work.  For a brief history on how the park was created and the part the CCC played in helping to build it click here

There are lots of fun things to do and see in the area, I hope you will choose at least one thing off this list and take a few moments to reflect on the history of the area, the people who lived here and the great privilege we have of enjoying such a diverse, historic and beautiful area.

 

 

 

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Coast the Mountainsides

One of the most popular attractions in the area are the alpine coasters.  The area now has 7 in operation. The first opened in August of 2013 with the latest finished up summer of 2015.  Two of the coasters are located on Wear’s Valley Road in Pigeon Forge, one in Pigeon Forge near Dollywood  and 4 in the city of Gatlinburg.

Alpine coasters have been around since the early 1970’s and are most often designed/installed by German engineering companies.  The coasters need the right piece of land and excavation is usually the highest cost in the building process.  The terrain must accommodate twists and turns and a slope that lets gravity do all the work. And while you may be at an elevation of 2000 feet you won’t be far off the ground.  The bobsled like cars ride on a stainless steel rail. Each car can hold up to two passengers.  After passengers are strapped in the car is pulled up the track by a cable and once at the top the car is released for a white knuckle ride down the mountainside reaching speeds of up to 30 mph!  Riders are able to control their speeds using handles positioned on each side of the car.

 

coaster

 

Each track in the area sports something a little different, one claiming to be the highest, one the longest, another the fastest.  One thing we can say for sure is they all have great scenery!  Coasters do operate rain or shine and offer morning and night rides.  Like most coasters there are height and age requirements.

To get a short preview of a no brakes ride on the Smoky Mt Alpine Coaster located on Wear’s Valley Road click here.

Here are the links for the coasters currently in operation in Sevier County.

http://www.smokymountainalpinecoaster.com/

http://thecoastertn.com/

http://gatlinburgmountaincoaster.org

http://obergatlinburg.com/mountain-coaster/

https://www.anakeesta.com/rail-runner/

https://www.rowdybearmountain.com/

http://rockytopcoaster.com/

Wonder what the next hot attraction might be….hmmmmm……  Plenty of reasons to come to the area and new things are added all the time so come back often, see what’s new, enjoy the old and just plain have fun!

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in Attractions, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

 

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A Park Just Outside The Park

My husband and I have been going to the Smoky Mountains for over 20 years and in that time we have most certainly driven Roaring Forks Motor Trail in Gatlinburg TN at least a handful of times.  This month (July 2015) we took the time to do so again and I must say it is amazing what you observe (or don’t) on such outings.

Just before you enter the “trail” there is a city park, Mynatt Park, I had never noticed the park on our previous trips, but I took notice this time.  In my own defense previous trips on the trail were for purposes of reaching trailheads that lead to two very popular waterfalls in the Smokies, Grotto and Rainbow, or during times of weather too cold, or too wet to be hiking.  Also now that we manage our own rentals and have social media to posts places of interest, photos and the like on maybe I am paying more attention and even searching for those spots that I think our cabin guests or visitors to the area might enjoy.  Whatever the reason I am glad I spotted Mynatt Park.

To get to the park turn at traffic light #8 in Gatlinburg and follow Historic Nature Trail Drive, just before you enter the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park, Mynatt Park will be on your right on Ashbury Lane.  Beautiful setting, great picnic areas, grills, and restrooms.  They also have a covered pavillion for a nominal fee if you need to host a family gathering.  Tennis and basketball courts, a baseball field, horsehoe pit, playground area and a fishing stream for children are also part of the amenities offered at Mynatt Park.  Plenty of great scenery to take in as well!  Here is a photo of one of the picnic areas there more along the stream.

mynatt

For those that want a great place to picnic or play this is it.  Right in the heart of Gatlinburg, right outside the national park, easy to get to, and a hidden little gem that most other visitors don’t know about.  After enjoying your time at Mynatt be sure to drive the Roarking Fork Motor Nature Trail, visit the 3 historic homesites and take in all the surrounding beauty of the rushing mighty stream, the place of a thousand drips and the glorious shade of the forest canopy.  You’ll be glad you did.

To view more information on the city parks offered in and around Gatlinburg click here.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Gatlinburg

 

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Good To Know Info

We can’t deny we live in a digital age where information abounds and for most of us, at least here in America, it is literally right at our fingertips thanks to smart phones/mobile devices.

Do any of you remember the days of planning ahead and having the info BEFORE you set out on vacation? Well I am a planner and I like to KNOW if not everything at least a lot of the info before I ever leave my driveway. However I am growing accustomed to this digital age and I will admit I do rely on having the information handy in my hand, readily available and accessible.   I am grateful for websites and Facebook pages that I can save as my favorites and easily access information of all types because one of the most precious commodities we have is time.  With that thought in mind I am writing this blog with the purpose of posting links to informational pages that might come in handy while you are planning your vacation or while you are staying in the Smoky Mt area.

Click on the city name to see a list of services provided, services of all types such as salons, medical, legal, pet, tours etc.

GATLINBURG                                                        PIGEON FORGE

For information relating to national park:  GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Weather informaton current and forecasted:  SEVIER COUNTY  (for Gatlinburg use zip code 37738, for Pigeon Forge 37863 in the search box top of the page)

Road Reports:     GREAT SMOKY MT NATIONAL PARK        SEVIER COUNTY

We have other articles here on the blog that are full of information too, like the one titled “FORE” which lists all the golf courses in the area.  Looking for a list of  theaters/shows in the area check out “It’s Show Time!”.  Need to know where the closest horse riding stables are then be sure to see the article “Giddy Up!”  A fan of the water then you need to read “Water, Water, Everywhere”.  Several more of our articles have info you may find interesting/helpful as well.

Vacation planning is great fun and with the use of our informative articles we hope it just got a lot easier too!  Happy planning!

 

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It’s All About Them Bears, ‘Bout Them Bears, ‘Bout Them Bears

Ursus americanus, the American black bear and one of the best known features of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. where the bears live in wild, natural surroundings.

A spectacular looking creature measuring up to 6 ft in length, and standing 3 ft tall at the shoulder. A typical male can weigh in at 250 lbs, females normally weigh in at around 100 lbs, however by fall bears can double in weight getting ready for their long periods of sleep when the cold months of winter set in.  Bears live 12-15 years however when they have access to human foods/garbage they live half that long.   Like humans bears are omnivores, their diet consisting of 85% plant material, the other 15% made up of insects and animal carrion.  Bears have a very keen sense of smell, color vision, they are good swimmers, can run 30 mph and boy can they climb!

Black bears in the Smokies don’t actually hibernate but they do den for long periods of time through the winter.  Mama bears and cubs (usually 1-4) begin emerging from their dens in late March/early April. Cubs remain with their mama for about 18 months until she mates again.  Anytime you are visiting the Smokies please be on the lookout for bears (and other wildlife) which may be in or crossing the road. Pictured here mama and 3 cubs on Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

bears

Most all the travelers that stay at one of our cabins would love to see a bear, many get that opportunity without ever leaving the cabin!  We can’t guarantee a bear siting however we will guarantee that when you do see one you will be in absolute awe of them. One of the best wildlife viewing areas in the Smokies is Cades Cove in Townsend, TN  If you are a wildlife lover you most certainly will want to make a trip here.

The national park website has great do’s and don’ts when it comes to viewing/encountering wildlife.  If you plan to be in the park I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with park regulations regarding the wildlife as well as reading the article on their site devoted to keeping you and the wildlife safe.

The prospect of seeing a black bear in it’s wild, natural surroundings is just another great reason to come to the Smoky Mountains!  When you do we hope you will stay in one of our cabins, enjoy the view and just maybe you will be one of the fortunate ones that sees that spectacular creature known as ursus americanus!

 
 

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Ski Tennessee!

Wanna ski in Tennessee?  Well then you have to head to the Smoky Mountains and the only ski resort in the southeast, Ober Gatlinburg.

Ober is set up for four seasons of fun but originally opened in the early 1960’s, first as a private club but quickly opened to the public.  It is located on the top of Mt Harrison 3 miles from downtown Gatlinburg and features not only snow related fun but also a wildlife encounter, an alpine slide, a chair swing, water raft rides, arcade, shopping, ice skating (indoor and year round), a mountain coaster, and more!  Fun for all ages and all seasons but for this article I want to focus on the winter/snow related activities.

In doing the research for this article I found out that there is a whole ‘nother language out there when it comes to snow sports!  First of all the place the sports takes place is called the Terrain Park. There is a lot of things included in the Terrain Park including boxes, rails, spines, bonks and table tops!  For those of you like me who have no clue what all those are suffice it to say they are obstacles to jump over or slide (jib) across on skies or snowboards.  Click here to see some jibbing at Ober.

Ober is constantly changing, upgrading and adding new features.  This year in addition to adding new obstacles a new ski slope was also opened, now offering nine trails.  All the snowmaking pipes were replaced, a holding pond was added which increased their snow making capacity and they expanded their rental fleet.  Oh they also have the latest in snow-grooming equipment to provide a smoother, more consistant surface.

For a great place to vacation this winter come to the Smoky Mountains and be sure to visit Ober, even if you don’t ski or snowboard, take a ride on the aerial cable car (one of the world’s longest), eat at one of the eateries and/or visit the shops in the Tramway Mall.   There’s always plenty to do in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, a great place to meet up with family and friends, share good times and make great memories.  We hope to see you soon!

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Attractions, Gatlinburg

 

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Logging…Loving…Leaving…Life The Story Of Elkmont

There has been much controversy concerning the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the idea of it’s inception.  The area now know as Elkmont within the park is no exception.  The area started as a logging camp around 1901 when Colonel Townsend founded the Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Co.

As logging began to make the area more accesible the tourism trade grew. Townsend sold some of the land to outdoor and hunting enthusiast who soon began to build summer cottages. The former logging camps of Elkmont and Tremont were turned into vacation destinations which led to the creation of the Wonderland Hotel and the Appalachian Club.

By the 1920’s many people began to notice how the logging operations had devestated the land and the push for a national park began.  The problem with the national park idea was that the land was owned by private residents and the Little River Lumber Co which did not want to leave.  In 1924 a compromise was worked out with Colonel Townsend to sell 76,500 acres of land but allowed to log it for the next 15 years.  This was only one of many such “deals” that would need working out before the land now knows as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park came to be.

The area now known as Elkmont was purchased in the 1930’s as part of the park deal with the current residents being offered lifetime leases but renewed every 20 years.  The last lease was renewed in 1972  but denied renewal in 1992.  The problem was what to do with the buildings, the park service desired to tear them down and remove them but the past lease holders had other ideas wanting the structures preserved.  Many of the structures were granted a place on the National Register of Historic Places and therefore could not be torn down, more controversy, more compromise.

Elkmont is now an active campground with the abandon residences as a testament to it’s past.  The Wonderland Hotel has already been demolished and 56 other structures are slated for tear down.  Structures in the Daisy Hill section will remain and be restored as a static display to remind visitors of an era and the history that brought about the idea for a national park.  The Appalachian Club has already been restored as has the Spence Cabin and are available for day use for events such as weddings/receptions, family reunions, celebration events and business meetings.

The Smoky Mountain area is rich in history, controversy, bio-diversity and well all things that make up the cylce of life.

 

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Behold the Bugler

Fall is quickly approaching in the Great Smoky Mt National Park and that means lots of wonderful things!  One of the first things that comes to mind is the changing of the leaves which brings out brilliant colors and paints the land in rich hues of yellows, golds, oranges and reds.  Another thing that comes with fall is the mating season of the elk, also known as the rut (September into early Oct).

The elk were reintroduced in 2001-2002 after a 200 year absence in the Smokies.  They are spectacular creatures to behold.  The best places to do so in the park are in the Cataloochee Valley or near the Oconoluftee Visitor Center.  The best times for viewing are early morning or early evening just before sunset.  Fields may be closed during the rut to minimize conflicts between elk and humans.

elk

During the rut the adult male elk (bulls) use a combination of bugling and aggressive behavior in an attempt to dominant over other males.  They use their huge antlers to spar with other males in a show of strength.  The bugling is a very distinct sound beginning as a deep resonant then increases to a high pitched squeal and ends in a succession of grunts.  These bugles can be heard a mile or more away!

To view a video of the elk click here

Seasons of the elk:  Spring (March) the male shed their antlers which are calcium rich and quickly eaten by other rodents and other animals.  It is illegal to remove the antlers from the park so look don’t touch!

Summer is birthing time with most calves being born in June.  The majestic creatures like to roll and wallow in the mud to cover themselves as a deterant to pesty insects.  By August the antlers are full grown and have lost their “velvet”.

Fall is the rut as discussed above and the display of aggresive, dominant behaviour and bugling begins.

Winter, the elk wear a two layer coat in colder months with the longer hairs repelling water and the fuzzy undercoat keeps them warm.

It really is quite a treat to view the elk in their natural habitat.  Be sure to follow all park rules regarding wildlife viewing for your saftey and that of the animals.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Great Smoky Mt National Park

 

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It’s Show Time!

Lots of great shows to see while you are visiting.  Look over the list below and see which one(s) are a must see for you.

American Oldies Show

129 Showplace Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-453-2003

www.americanoldiestheater.com

 American’s Hit Parade

2330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-774-7777

http://www.thegrandmajestic.com/americashitparade.html

Biblical Times (Dinner Show)

2391 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-908-3327

www.biblicaltimestheater.com

Cinema Types

Southeast Cinemas

www.southeastcinemas.com/location/42601/Governors-Crossing-14-Showtimes

The Forge Cinemas

http://www.theforgecinemas.com/

Ripleys 5D Moving Theater

http://www.ripleys.com/gatlinburg/moving-theater/

Comedy Barn, The

2775 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-428-5222 or 800-29-LAUGH

www.comedybarn.com

Country Tonight

129 Showplace Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-453-2003

http://countrytonitepf.com/

 Dixie Stampede (Dinner Show)

3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-453-4400

www.dixiestampede.com

Grand Majestic (Dinner Show)

2330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-774-7777

www.thegrandmajestic.com

 Great Smoky Mt Murder Mystery Show (Dinner Show)

2682 Teaster Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN

866-624-7185

Murder-mystery-theater.com

Hatfield and McCoy (Dinner Show)

119 Music Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-908-7469 or 800-985-5494

www.hatfieldmccoydinnerfeud.com

Hazzard County Hoedown (Dinner Show)

2330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-774-7777

http://www.thegrandmajestic.com/hazzardcounty.html

I.R.I.S Theater (inside the Space Needle)

115 Historic Nature Trail. Gatlinburg, TN

check out the link for current shows

865-436-4629

http://www.iristheater.com/

Magic Beyond Belief

2046 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

800-768-1170

http://www.pigeonforgemagic.com/

 Lumberjack Adventure (Dinner Show)

2713 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

844-322-4400

lumberjackadventure.com

 Memories Theatre

2141 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

800-325-3078

www.memoriestheatre.com

Patsy Cline Theater (Tribute Theater)

175 Wears Valley Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN

877-494-3183

(no website listed)

Smith Morning Variety Show

2046 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

800-768-1170

http://www.smokymtnopry.com/shows/smith-morning-variety-show

  Smoky Mt Opry

2046 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

800-768-1170

www.smokymtnopry.com

Starlite Theater

140 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-368-3636

http://www.thestarlitetheater.com/

Smith Morning Variety Show

2046 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

800-768-1170

http://www.smokymtnopry.com/shows/smith-morning-variety-show

Soul of Motown

2330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-428-0008 or 865-774-7777

www.thegrandmajestic.com

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre

461 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN

877-388-5784 or 865-436-4039

sweetfannyadams.com

Unto These Hills (Outdoor drama, summer season only)

688 Drama Road, Cherokee, NC

866-554-4557

www.cherokeesmokies.com/unto_these_hills.html

Wonders of Magic

100 Music Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN

865-868-1800

www.wonderworksonline.com

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Attractions

 

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