Fall Colors in Gatlinburg

Smoky Mountains Fall Colors | Leaves Changing Colors in Gatlinburg

Come See the Fall Colors in the Smokies

Changing Leaves in the Smokies

Color is coming. As the evening air turns crisp and the afternoons get shorter and shorter, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will soon be bursting with a vivid array of oranges, reds, and yellows.

A lot of people talk about fall foliage “peak weekend” as if the changing of the colors happens so quickly that you’ll miss it if you can’t be in the mountains during a special couple of days. Not so. The “peak” simply refers to the predictions about the probable times when the most trees will have the most color. But remember that the turning relies on several factors — including temperatures, rainfall, and Mother Nature — so that prediction will only be accurate within a few days on either side anyway. This color-coded fall leaves changing map will give you week by week updates for East Tennessee and surrounding areas.

Fall Colors 2017 Smoky Mountains

Colors of Fall in the Smoky Mountains

Since the leaves at the higher elevations begin changing colors a little sooner and the lower elevations slightly later, you can expect to see the forest kaleidoscope for several weeks starting in late September and ending in early November. If you come to Gatlinburg earlier in the season, head for higher ground to see the most color. The Sugarland Mountain Trail or the trek up to Mt. LeConte are safe bets through the first week of October.

If you want to venture more into the wilderness for the immersed experience, head to the Appalachian Trail at Clingman’s Dome. Newfound Gap Road, the Foothills Parkway, and Rich Mountain Road out of Cades Cove are great drives for seeing a lot of fall color from the comfort of your car.

By mid-October, dazzling color will surround the Gatlinburg area. Anywhere you turn, you’re likely to see trees in fully impressive display. This is the perfect time to drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Late October will see the trees at Gatlinburg’s elevation fading a little, but you’ll still have plenty of options for a couple of weeks yet. Hike up the Alum Cave Trailhead or cruise down the Blue Ridge Parkway to view the leaves before they have dropped for the year.

What is your prediction for the Smoky Mountains fall colors best time? Will Smoky Mountains changing leaves happen earlier or later than usual this year?

The really beautiful thing about fall is it comes every year so you can make your Smoky Mountain getaway an annual tradition!

Pickin’ On The Porch

Wood n Strings Dulcimer Shop Townsend TN

Wood -n- Strings Dulcimer Shop Saturday Night “Pickin’ on the Porch”

Dulcimers, BanJammers, Back Porch Pickin’

Surely you’ve heard the expression; “There’s music in them thar hills!” And it’s never been more true than in Townsend TN. You can hear guitar strummin’, fiddle playin’, and bass jammin’ in and around the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg area, and sometimes even on their street corners. But you won’t find any sweeter, purer, and yet more haunting sound than a dulcimer, especially as it echoes off the mountains and hangs in the air. Known by many names, from the common “dulcimer” to the unusual “hog fiddle,” even its name means “sweet music” from the Latin “Dulce” (sweet) and the Greek “melos” (music).

Just what is a dulcimer you ask? Why it’s one of the oldest types of musical instruments found in Eastern Tennessee today. The dulcimer was originally introduced in Europe somewhere around the 1700’s. European settlers brought their instruments and their musical heritage with them when they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to come here. But the dulcimer sound we know and love today didn’t enter into the urban northeast folk music scene until after the 1940s.

Want to know more? Hear a little bit maybe? Then a visit to Mike & Connie’s Wood N’ Strings Dulcimer Shop is where you’ll want to be. Home of the “Clemmer Dulcimer” and the Clemmer “Ban-Jammer,” you can sit and enjoy tunes any Saturday night from May through September.

Take a listen…

Mike has a shop where he personally makes dulcimers. He’s also got a back porch where he holds court on Tennessee nights. Appropriately enough, he calls his Saturday night hoe downs Pickin’ On The Porch.” And it’s not just dulcimer music you will be entertained with, but a little fiddle, banjo and jugs too. Mike welcomes various guest artists such as Tuckaleechee Tuners, Rudy Ryan, and Shadow Mountain String Band and a host of others who perform a free concert from 7-8 p.m.  See ya on the porch!

August: 5, 12, 19 & 26  |  September: 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30

View the Pickin on the Porch Schedule and Performers List

Wood -n- Stings Dulcimer Shop
7645 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend TN 37882  |  (865) 448-6647


Things to Do in Townsend TN:
River Rat Tubing
Tuckaleechee Cove and Caverns
Little River Railroad
Cades Cove TN

River Tubing with Smoky Mountain River Rat

Outdoor Attraction River Tubing Activity

Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing in Townsend TN

All Day Fun on the River

Going river tubing with Smoky Mountain River Rat is a great outdoor activity for families with small children up to seniors just wanting a low-key, relaxing way to enjoy some river fun.

River Rat is located next to the Little River in Townsend TN and provides two tubing options. An upper section adventure features scenic views, delightful rapids and swimming holes for all ages 6 and older. The lower section is a more relaxed, family-friendly float, but does feature subtle rapids and a rock jump off perfect for ages 2 and older. But you don’t have to choose!  Your all day attraction pass includes one or both sections.

River Tubing Smoky Mountains

Season Passes!

Ages 13 & Up: $15
Ages 6-12: $12
Ages 2-6: Free
Purchase Online & Save $2


Things to Know Before Going River Tubing:

  • The average time for a float on either section is 2 hours.
  • Children ages 12 and younger are required by law to wear a lifejacket.
  • You have a choice of tubes with or without bottoms, and tethers are available.
  • Sunscreen and water shoes are highly recommended!
  • Your car is your locker for personal items.
  • You will need to sign a waiver when purchasing / picking up your wrist band.
  • Although reservations aren’t required, you may want to call ahead and ask about any water levels to see if any age restrictions may interrupt your plans.

Items Not Allowed on the River for Personal Safety and River Health:

  • Alcohol
  • Glass Bottles or Cans
  • Coolers

Since Smoky Mountain River Rat allows you to tube both sections of the river as often as you’d like during your day, you’ll appreciate having Toobers Cafe with plenty of food and snack options so you won’t have to leave the fun! Choose from all beef hot dogs, personal pizzas, pulled pork sandwiches and nachos to sweet treats and cold drinks. Although you can’t take a cooler on the river, you are welcome to leave a cooler in your car for bringing your own drinks and snacks.

There is no doubt that river tubing will be a highlight of your Smoky Mountains vacation, so stop by the gift shop before you head out to pick up a souvenir t-shirt to commemorate your day!

Smoky Mountain River Rat
(865) 448-8888 | 205 Wears Valley Road, Townsend
Memorial Day to Labor Day: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Additional Dates Vary Based on Water Levels: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Rather Go White Water Rafting?

Tuckaleechee Cove and Caverns – Townsend TN

Underground Attraction in the Smokies

Tuckaleechee Cove & Caverns – One of 700 Known Caverns in Tennessee

The Greatest Sight Under the Smokies

Planning a trip to the Smokies soon? Let us suggest a nature-based vacation that is not only stunning and awe-inspiring, but is also educational and full of historic significance. All it takes is a visit to Tuckaleechee Cove and Caverns. Located approximately 20 miles from traffic light #3 in Pigeon Forge at 825 Cavern Road in Townsend TN, the Tuckaleechee Cove and Caverns are sure to have something to excite all adventurers of every age.

Things to Do in Townsend TN

Family-Friendly Adventure

Tuckaleechee Cove, a Cherokee name meaning “peaceful, green place” is truly a sight to see. This scenic formation developed completely through natural geological processes over millions of years as forces pushed old rock layers on top of new rock layers. Eventually, through a long process of erosion and weathering, the Tuckaleechee Cove was formed. These majestic mountain valleys eventually became what we see today; beautiful valleys filled with a plethora of colors and teeming with wildlife. However, Tuckaleechee Cove is hiding a secret, one that will be the highlight of your vacation.

Hidden underneath Tuckaleechee Cove is a vast cave system known as Tuckaleechee Caverns. Formed in a geological process of water dripping and flowing underground for millions upon millions of years, these caverns have incredible historical value. According to legend, these caverns were originally used by Cherokee Indians to hide in until settlers of European descent discovered them in the 1850’s. These caverns were originally opened to the public in 1931, but that lasted only the one year as the Depression put a halt to all development of the cave. It wasn’t until 1954 that the caves were reopened by two men who used to play in the caves as children. Tuckaleechee Caverns have come a long way since then as many new rooms within the caverns have been discovered, and electrical lighting has been put in place for the convenience of those visiting. One of the rooms that were discovered in 1955, known as the “Big Room,” is over 400 feet high, 300 feet long and 150 feet deep with stalagmites that are over 24 feet high. The ceiling height of over 150 feet in the Big Room dwarfs even that of Kentucky’s Mammoth Caves! A room has even been opened recently that contains a double waterfall that spans over 200 feet! These are without a doubt an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Tuckaleechee Caverns, a part of Tuckaleechee Cove, is open seven days a week March 15-November 15. Cost of admission is $17 for adults, $8 for kids ages five to eleven, and free for kids four and under! Visit online at .

We hope you’ll make time for the trip to Townsend, whether it is to take in the green mountain valleys of Tuckaleechee Cove or to explore the caverns and let that adventurer inside of you free!

TN Cavern - Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend TN

Easy to Get to, Worth the Drive

Tuckaleechee Caverns
Web Site
Open Every Day
March 15-November 15
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
March and November
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
825 Cavern Road
Townsend TN 37882
(865) 448-2274

After you visit Tuckaleechee Caverns,
you may want to see Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville too!

Dollywood TN BBQ & Bluegrass Festival

Dollywood TN

May 26 – June 4, 2017

Southern Barbecue Recipes & Bluegrass Music Concerts

It’s the unofficial start of summer when Dollywood rolls out the annual Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival! Both are southern traditions, and a big ‘ol festival combining the two is definitely a tradition at Dollywood. For 10 days beginning May 26, you can enjoy both to the fullest right in Pigeon Forge from * 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. each day, and until * 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

If you love bluegrass music, you’re going to be in seventh heaven with the concert schedule covering all 10 days from open to close. Performers include top industry names such as Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, Dailey and Vincent, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Blue Highway, Hot Rize and many, many more. View the anticipated Bluegrass Concert Schedule for performance dates and locations as artists schedules vary.

Now… for that southern flavor of hot, sweet, spicy barbecue! Throughout the park, Dollywood is preparing – literally – TONS of pork, chicken, ribs and sausages. There will be lots to sample and lots to take home too. You’ll find tasty barbecue at Front Porch Cafe, Miss Lilian’s BBQ Corner, Market Square Skillets and at other locations throughout the park. Chef secret recipe sauces will be on sale too.

Hundreds of concerts and more food than you can stomach not enough for ya? Arrive early and stay late so that you and your entire family can browse the specialty shops, watch craftsmen at work, conquer all the rollercoasters, be entertained with singing and dancing, and be amazed by American Eagles.

NEW at Dollywood 2017
Dolly likes to surprise her guests and this year she is doing it many times over with new a new ride at Splash Country and both new rides and an event at Dollywood Theme Park.

Whistle Punk Chaser: A junior rollercoaster with plenty of twists and turns just for the younger crowd. Dollywood, Timber Canyon

Drop Line: A free-fall ride taking brave souls nearly 20 stories high above Timber Canyon. Dollywood, Timber Canyon

TailSpin Racer: A unique spiraling slide with high-speed AquaTubes for a race to the finish like no other! Dolly’s Splash Country

Great Pumpkin LumiNights: A fabulous ‘pumpkin illumination’ will be joining the fall Harvest Celebration along with operating hours of 10 a.m.-9 p.m. every day! Dollywood, Timber Canyon

* Verify daily and weekend hours as these may change without notice.

Parades in Pigeon Forge

Dolly’s Homecoming Parade & Shriner’s FunFest Parade

Pigeon Forge Parade - Dollys Parade - Dolly's Homecoming Parade

Dollywood Homecoming Parade | May 5, 2017
Shriner’s FunFest Parade | May 13, 2017

Who doesn’t love a parade?? Pigeon Forge TN is well aware of such family fun, and for that reason, parades are regularly scheduled! In fact, two are coming up on back-to-back weekends in May.

The mother of all parades in Pigeon Forge is Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, Friday, May 5. Yes, there will be floats, horses, baton twirlers, marching bands and all the hoopla. This year spectators can even expect to local entertainers and military veterans! But the Grand Marshall is what makes this parade special for the over 50,000 people that traditionally line the Pigeon Forge Parkway… Miss Dolly Parton herself! What extravagant costume will she be wearing this year?

The Dolly Homecoming Parade will begin at 6 p.m. on River Road near traffic light #7 and will travel north along the Parkway to traffic light #3. It’s a given that you’ll want to arrive early and bring a lawn chair to be sure you reserve your best seat in the house.

Pigeon Forge Parade - Shriners FunFest Parade

Saturday, May 13

You’ll want to bring your lawn chair right back to the Parkway by 9 a.m. the following Saturday, May 13 for the Shriner’s Pigeon Forge FunFest Parade! In case you are not aware, the Shriner’s are a group of men who raise money to pay hospital bills for children all over the United States.

The FunFest Parade sports motorcycles, go-karts, and mini 18-wheeler and Corvette replicas performing intricate and daredevil antics right on the Parkway! And what’s a parade without some antique tractors, a salute to America, and bagpipe music thrown in? The parade is just FUN and entertaining for both young and old as they watch these BIG kid Shriners acting silly for nearly a full hour.

Parades are big fun for locals too, so you can be sure the roads will be busy leading up to parade time. Since it will be necessary to redirect traffic on the Parkway to accommodate the parade route, plan ahead! Arrive early and park your car at Patriot Park or on Teaster Lane at The Island. From either location, you’ll then be able to walk to the Parkway and find a great spot.

Future Parade Dates:
July 3: 4th of July Midnight Parade, Gatlinburg
August 19: Veterans Homecoming Parade, Pigeon Forge
November 12-January 1: Parade of Many Colors, Dollywood
December 1: Fantasy of Light Christmas Parade, Gatlinburg
December 2: 55th Annual Christmas Parade, Sevierville
December 3: Annual Christmas Parade, Townsend
December 9: 24th Annual Christmas Parade, Seymour

Tennessee Smokies Baseball

It’s 2017 Baseball Season!

TN Smokies Baseball Schedule

2017 Smokies Baseball

As spring draws near, days become longer, flowers begin to bloom, and another phenomenon happens: shouts of “Hey batter, batter!” fill the air. That can mean only one thing; baseball season is here! America’s national pastime is back and there’s no better way to kick off the spring season than attending a game at the magnificent Smokies Park and watching the Tennessee Smokies play baseball.  The Tennessee Smokies have been named “Organization of the Year” by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues in 2011 and again in 2014, beating out over 160 other teams based not only on the team itself, but also its contributions to the community. With such an amazing organization, the Tennessee Smokies are sure to provide an experience and put on a show that is unmatched anywhere else, as well as provide fun for the entire family. There are many family-friendly promotions for all ages and interest levels in order to provide a great experience for everyone which include: the Smokies Kids Cub Club, Silver Smokies Club, Season Ticket Packages as well as other multi-game ticket packages.

Smokies Baseball Kids Club

2017 Kids Cub Club

Do you have a budding baseball enthusiast in your home? Well the Smokies Kids Club may be just the thing for all Smokies fans who are twelve and under. For only $30 kids get 6 tickets for admission to any home game, a Cub Club daypack and a baseball cap. Joining the Smokies Kids Club is no doubt an amazing deal and would make any youngster’s Tennessee Smokies experience one to remember.

Maybe you’re an experienced Smokies fan and are interested in the Silver Smokies Club? For $35 membership, fans 55 and older receive: admittance to six selected home games, Silver Smokies t-shirt and hat, and other game day promotions. Visit online for additional information and membership registration.

The Tennessee Smokies have many other different ticket promotions as well, including full season passes and 6, 12 or 30-ticket plans. There are even promotions for group events such as birthday parties where your child has the chance to throw out the first pitch or the Field of Dreams experience where your child can has the opportunity to take the field with the players during the National Anthem!

No matter what your age or baseball knowledge, there is always fun to be had for everyone at a Tennessee Smokies baseball game. Let the Smokies make your baseball experience a home run. We hope to see you all attend the Tennessee Smokies home opener on Wednesday, April 12 against the Mississippi Braves!

Romantic Things to Do

Romantic Gatlinburg

Romantic Valentines Day Ideas for Gatlinburg TN

Valentine’s Day Romance in Gatlinburg

With Valentine’s Day taking center stage in the middle of the month, February is the time for romance. At any given time of year, but especially around February 14th, visitors to the Smokies might be looking for a spot to spend a little together time with their sweeties, and plenty of places come to mind. If you’re looking for a romantic location or a charming activity when you’re visiting the area, try taking your valentine to one of these couples-friendly spots.

Ice skating is always a good option. Holding hands as you glide along the ice. Cuddling together to keep warm. Sharing some hot chocolate afterward. It’s the quintessential couples activity. The skating rink at Ober Gatlinburg stays open year-round, so you don’t need to wait until February to take a twirl around the ice!

If skating is a little too intense, and you’d rather go in for a more low-key option, you’ll still want to get high above Gatlinburg. Instead of heading to Ober Gatlinburg, though, just ride the elevator up to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. From over 400 feet above the city below, you’ll be able to see for miles.

Another spot in the sky that might be a little more private is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel at The Island in Pigeon Forge. From a gondola at the top of the 200’ wheel, you and your sweetheart will be able to see all of Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg Massage and Spa

Quiet Reflections Spa

For perhaps a more sophisticated experience, you could do a wine tasting at on of the several fine wineries in the area. In Pigeon Forge you can sample the vintages at Mountain Valley Vineyards, The Winery at the Old Mill, Apple Barn Winery, or Hillside Winery. Gatlinburg offers tastings at Smoky Mountain Winery, Tennessee Homemade Wines, and Sugarland Cellars. You can make a tour of all of them, then choose your favorites to take back home.

What could be more romantic than a couples massage? You’re coming to the Smokies to relax with the one you love, right? Enjoy a massage together so that you’ll be tension-free for the rest of your stay. Several spas offer couples massages: Quiet Reflections, About You Salon and Day Spa and just up the road from Carr’sFox Place Salon and Spa.

While we hope you’ll try one of our suggestions for a wonderfully, romantic day, we know you’ll have to include a tried & true couples dinner too. Visit the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce for the latest listing of restaurants and dining hot spots.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Christmas Celebration and Chapel Services

Dollywood 2016 Christmas Festival

November 5, 2016 – January 1, 2017 Smoky Mountain Christmas

There are amazing memories to be made at Dollywood, which becomes an enchanted place during the holiday season. Book your Carr’s Cottages accommodations now and ensure your family tucks treasured times within their hearts after seeing and being a part of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. Both will quickly become a family tradition!

This winter festival brings a stunning array of shows guaranteed to get even the most determined bah-humbugger into the Christmas spirit. Add the new Parade of Many Colors that begins at 8 p.m. each evening with gorgeous, colorful floats and characters interacting with the crowd, and you’ve got even more reason to celebrate Christmas in the Smokies.

For the very first time, Dollywood will present the enduring holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Showstreet. Relax and become immersed in Tennessee culture as the gentle sounds of acoustic Christmas music wash over you at the “Applachian Christmas” show at the Back Porch Theater. “Christmas in the Smokies” will be back at Dolly Parton’s celebrity theater. This show features live music, singing and dancing, and includes both pop culture Christmas favorites in character and song as well as the sacred theme of the season, the birth of Christ. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Dollywood’s Pines Theater, takes visitors along on a heart-warming family adventure involving a guest the children in the audience are sure to recognize!

2016 Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas

There’s no place like Dollywood for Christmas!

“Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs” also at the Pines Theater, is a southern gospel show par excellence, in keeping with all of the other top-notch activities at Dollywood during the Smoky Mountain Christmas! Another show sure to be a hit with visitors especially attuned to the sacred nature of the holiday, “O’ Holy Night” in the Valley Theater will not disappoint!

The Robert F. Thomas Chapel at Dollywood holds services at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday night throughout Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. A charming, somewhat rustic and old-fashioned chapel, this venue is beautifully decorated for the holidays and the perfect place to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Finally, get ready to take some amazing photographs because, after all, it wouldn’t be Christmas at Dollywood without meticulous attention to detail in the heartwarming, over-the-top-stunning décor at every turn. One highlight is the Timber Canyon stage where, every night of the festival, thousands of twinkling lights are set to glorious music, perfectly synchronized to make you stop and appreciate, for just a moment, that you are in a very special place for the happiest holiday of the year!

Reserve Your Carr’s Gatlinburg Cabin, Cottage or Creekside Motel Room for the Holidays
and Purchase Your Discount Dollywood Tickets

Gatlinburg Winterfest Celebrations

Celebrate Winterfest in the Smokies

If it isn’t enough that the temperatures will be perfect for any and all outdoor fun in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (or for Christmas shopping until you drop), maybe some of these interesting activities will lure you back to Gatlinburg and your favorite Carr’s Cottages accommodation in November 2016.

Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Winterfest Kickoff Celebrations

Beginning November 9th, the City of Gatlinburg will be aglow with three million Christmas lights. That very day, dignitaries will “flip the switch” to set the city awash in holiday glory! However, during the fun of that evening’s (5 p.m. – 8 p.m.) “Winter Magic Kickoff,” (which opens Gatlinburg’s celebration of Smoky Mountain Winterfest also celebrated in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge) you can enjoy tasting some seriously amazing chili during the annual Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff. Participants will be out in force, locking horns for the “People’s Choice Award,” “Best Booth Presentation,” and “Best Apron”! Tasting tickets are $10, and will be worth every single penny, if chili’s your thing!  And whose “thing” isn’t it?  At 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., you can jump on the Trolley Ride of Lights and see the beautiful light displays throughout the city. Children under three ride free in the enclosed, heated trolleys, if they are in an adult’s lap. There are happy snowmen, a rocking horse and brightly lit children and animals along the route, to name a few sights.

Gatlinburg Christmas Craft Show

Gatlinburg Convention Center

Our country’s veterans will be honored November 11, 2016 at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. The “Gatlinburg Veteran’s Day Celebration” will begin at 11 a.m. and will be open to the public. Come and honor those who have honored you by protecting your freedoms, and enjoy the stunning aquarium afterwards!

Love arts and crafts? Hit the Gatlinburg Convention Center November 22nd through the 27th and enjoy an assortment of handcrafted items offered for sale by members of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. From the “folksy” to the useful, to the truly elegant and divine, the wares sold at this show will wow you. The craft show will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Great Smoky Christmas Arts and Crafts Show will take place at the same location from November 28-December 4.

Christmas Tunes and Tales

Winter Magic Tunes and Tales

If you’re in Gatlinburg from November 25th through December 17th, chances are you’ll encounter Winter Magic Tunes and Tales carolers and performers singing while strolling or gathered on the sidewalks. They’ll fill the air with every musical style appropriate to the season from bluegrass to country and more! Enjoy sacred tunes of the season as well as the folksy, fun songs we’ve all come to know and love. There will be characters from favorite Christmas stories strolling about as this entertainment-on-the-go really connects with the Gatlinburg holiday crowds! Performances run from 5 to 9 p.m. and will take place on November 25th-26th, December 2nd -3rd, 9th – 10th, and 16th – 17th.