Gatlinburg News

Spring Flowers: Where to find them and What’s Blooming

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See wildflowers like this when you visit Gatlinburg!

While many people look forward to their summer vacation every year, Gatlinburg invites you to get away from it all early. Think Spring and come to Gatlinburg now for a wildflower show you’ll never forget! In Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone there are over 1500 different species of flowering plants. Couple that treasure trove of stunning blooms with the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage held by the Great Smoky Mountain Association and you can immerse yourself in a spring flora extravaganza the likes of which you’ll not find anywhere else in the country.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s abundance of wildflowers has earned it the nickname ‘Wildflower National Park,’ as it offers visitors more wildflowers than in any other national park in the United States. Visit the park in mid-April to enjoy a diversity of flowers in the lower elevations and then trek to higher elevations later in the month to enjoy the wildflowers spread throughout the park’s upper regions.

What’s Blooming in April and Where to See Them

Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park will see columbine, bleeding heart, ten different types of trillium, lady slipper orchids, showy orchids, crested dwarf iris, fire pink, phacelia, violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, little brown jugs and many more flower varieties. Visit this page on the park’s website for recommended wildflower walks.

The Great Smoky Mountain Association’s 63rd Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage is your chance to enjoy the park’s abundance of wildflowers while you participate in any of 150 programs and classes. The Wildflower Pilgrimage will be held at W.L. Mills Conference Center, 303 Reagan Drive, & various venues throughout the area.

Botanists, hobby gardeners and people who love nature hikes all are welcome. Visitors will enjoy guided hiking tours, instructional walks, guest lecturers and demonstrations. While wildflowers are a major focus, plants, trees, shrubs, mosses and ferns native to the area will also be highlighted, as will native birds, amphibians and reptiles.

Most programs will take place outdoors, but several classroom sessions and evening entertainment activities will be held in W.L. Mills Conference Center downtown to round out the week.

For more information please call 865-436-7318; Toll Free: 800-568-4178, or visit for the 2013 activity brochure.

What are your favorite Smoky Mountain wildflowers? Discuss your thoughts with us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter @travelgburg, or on Google +!

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Join us for Earth Week in Gatlinburg

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Celebrate Earth Week with us in Gatlinburg!

Over 40 years ago the first Earth Day commemorative activities were held. That first Earth Day is remembered as one of the catalysts that started the green movement across the world. Today Earth Week festivities and educational programs help people learn more about how to protect the environment. Come celebrate Earth Week in Gatlinburg! Spring in Gatlinburg offers you a unique opportunity to enjoy the wonders of nature while participating in activities and programs to help the environment!

Attend a Go Green Seminar, Help in the Spur Clean-up,  Go to the Wildflower Pilgrimage, Run in the Earth Day 5K, Play in the Disc Golf Tournament,  and bring the entire family to the Earth Day Festival. You’ll learn about easy green practices while you enjoy music, food, activities, games, craft stations, and more!

Go Green Disc Golf Tournament

Sunday, April 21

Mills Park. Registration begins at 12:30 pm.  Awards ceremony at 4:00 pm. Registration will be on-site. $20, $15 for children (13 & under).

Gatlinburg Goes Green Breakfast Seminar

Monday, April 22

Please call the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information: Local Phone: (865) 436-4178 Toll Free: 800-588-1817

Spur Clean Up

Tuesday, April 23

The Spur Clean Up on Tuesday, April 23 offers participants an opportunity to help beautify The Spur, a stretch of the National Park between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  This event is a partnership between Earth Week and Keep Sevier Beautiful to pick up trash along this route. To participate, bring a pair of gloves and meet at Gatlinburg’s Spur Welcome Center at 9:00 am.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 23-27

The Great Smoky Mountain Association hosts the 63rd Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage.  150 programs including instructional walks and tours, demonstrations and guest lectures await you.  To download the 2013 activity brochure and register online, visit

Wildflower Pilgrimage Welcome Luncheon

Wednesday, April 24

Presented by the Gatlinburg Garden Club featuring “Cherokee Plant Lore,” with Ila Hatter

W.L. Mills Conference Center $25 per person

For tickets & information, Call  Pat Willoughby 865-397-7355 or Juanita King 865-453-6101 ext 481 or cell 865-654-4393.

Earth Day Festival

3:00 – 7:00 pm, Thursday, April 25 at Mynatt Park.

Bring the family for free crafts and activities, educational displays, food and live entertainment by Boogertown Gap and Tuatha Dea.

Shred Day 

Friday, April 26

Anna Porter Library in Gatlinburg 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Earth Day 5K Run/Walk in downtown Gatlinburg

Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:00pm.

The Second Annual Earth Day 5K Run/Walk in downtown Gatlinburg is a night race. Runners and walkers of all ages are welcome to participate in this USA Track and Field sanctioned event.  Guarantee your shirt size with early registration. Race night registration begins at 9:00pm at Nantahala Outdoor Center. Race starts at 10:00 pm.

Race Cost:

Student/Youth: $15

Advanced (before April 12): $20

Regular (April 13-25): $25

Day-of: $30

For more information please contact Jennifer Burke at the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (865) 436-0505; Toll Free: 1-800-588-1817; or email or visit:

Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Winefest

On Saturday, April 27, 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Sample wines from more than a dozen Tennessee Wineries at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Enjoy small dish fare from the best restaurants in the Smoky Mountains.  Enjoy food pairing demonstrations and wine talks in the beautiful Jules Verne Room. Participants must be at least 21- years old and pay a $20 admission fee.

Discover Life in America Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball

April 27, 7-10 pm at Gatlinburg Convention Center

Live music with the Johnson Swingtet

Tickets $75 for adults, $50 for Wildflower Pilgrimage participants, Children 12 & under free

Children’s Planting Program

Sunday, April 28, 1:00 pm at Mills Park Pavilion

Children are invited for storytime and seed planting activity. This event is sponsored by Keep Sevier Beautiful.

Want to know more about Earth Week in Gatlinburg? Ask us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter @travelGburg, or on Google +!

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Gatlinburg’s Iconic Winter Magic Festival Lights up the Night Skies

Gatlinburg Winter Magic, Winterfest, Gatlinburg On November 7th, Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic captured the spirit of the holiday season with millions of lights and stunning light displays. Every evening, Gatlinburg will be transformed into a winter wonderland, and visitors will be able to enjoy the festive feel and atmosphere of the brilliant LED lights glittering through town. If you love the holiday season, there’s no better time to visit Gatlinburg than when Winter Magic is in full swing. From November 7th, 2012 to February 28th, 2013, Gatlinburg streets will be lined with spectacular lights and brilliant light displays that capture the true essence of the holiday season.

Winter Magic is an Environmentally Friendly Event in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is committed to conservation and sustainability, and one of Gatlinburg’s many green efforts has been the transition from 500-watt incandescent bulbs to LED (light emitting diode) bulbs to conserve electricity during Winter Magic. The festival has been 100% converted from incandescent to LED lights, which has resulted in a more environmentally friendly festival and more brilliant colors. Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic displays can now be run for a full 120 days on the electricity that it previously took to light up the area for 3 days.

Get into the Holiday Spirit in Gatlinburg

Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Gatlinburg each year to enjoy the beautiful Winter Magic in Gatlinburg. When the lights go up and the snow starts to fall, the holiday season comes to life in Gatlinburg. Each year, the City commemorates past traditions and creates new holiday traditions that will be shared for generations.  This year, come join us for Winter Magic, the Trolley Ride of Lights, and our many other wonderful holiday-inspired events!

Winter Magic is fun for people of all ages. From the little ones with their eyes full of wonder at the many beautiful shining lights to people that can remember those timeless lighting displays from visits to Gatlinburg in their youth, the Winter Magic festival gives visitors the ability to enjoy Gatlinburg’s majestic mountains in a whole new way.

Take a Guided Tour of Winter Magic on the Trolley Ride of Lights

Visitors can also enjoy the lights in Gatlinburg by taking a ride on the trolley this season. The Trolley Ride of Lights will take you through the area on a 40-45 minute guided tour so that you can catch a glimpse of all of the beautiful light displays in Gatlinburg and hear the stories behind them.

Winter Magic kicked off on November 7th, and will run for 120 days. For more details on Winter Magic and all of Gatlinburg’s holiday events, visit Gatlinburg’s Events Page.

What’s your favorite place to look at the lights in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter




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Enjoy Fall Mountains of Fun This Autumn in Gatlinburg

If you’re coming to the mountains, it only makes sense to stay in the mountains, and autumn is the most popular time for many to stay in the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg.

If gas prices or busy lifestyles kept you away during the traditional summer travel period, have no fear – autumn is nearly here! Life doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Get an altitude adjustment and treat yourself this fall by planning a trip to the foothills of the Smokies.

The streets of Gatlinburg are more serene compared to summer vacation flow, yet shops and attractions are still hopping and have plenty to offer. School is back in session during these months, so adults and families with preschool children find that Gatlinburg has a bounty of offerings in store.

One of the best times to visit Gatlinburg is after Labor Day when September’s warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights mix with just the right amount of rain to begin the transformation of 800 square miles of lush green forest into a brilliant palette of vibrant autumnal colors by early October.

Did you know that for about eight weeks each autumn, you can always find color peaking at some elevation of the Smokies, where most of the 100 or so species of trees are deciduous and shed their leaves. Color displays above 4,000 feet start as early as mid-September and the middle and lower elevations typically peak between mid-October and early November.

Artisans and storekeepers strive to mimic the beauty of the mountains by carrying the same colors into often-elaborate storefront decorations, thus turning this little mountain town into a promenade of Southern Appalachian sights.

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival complements this facade of autumn. Fall decorations, special events, entertainment, and local crafts exhibits complement this festival which cranks up September 13 and continues through October 31.

The eight-mile loop of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community is a drive visitors will not want to miss. Situated on the northeast side of Gatlinburg, it is the only zoned crafts community in the United States. Onlookers can view live demonstrations of candy-making, watch as ordinary wood is turned into works of art, and marvel at the intricate handiwork of mountain artisans as they handle the delicate tasks of quilting, broom making, and pottery-throwing.

On Thursday, September 27, a multitude of Gatlinburg’s finest restaurants will serve menu favorites for a United Way of Sevier County fundraiser in the 15th Annual Taste of Autumn at Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Arts and crafts are important to the heritage of the Smoky Mountains, and if visitors missed it during July, Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen’s Fair once again becomes the focal gathering point for over 180 craftspeople from around the United States as they exhibit and sell their traditional handiwork at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from October 11 through October 28. Live country and bluegrass entertainment is featured throughout each day.

October also means Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg and Fright Nights at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, and don’t forget to check out the mermaids at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There’s a special event for everyone in Gatlinburg.

While October is known throughout eastern America as being a beautiful time for leaf-watchers, the latter part of October often extending into the first days of November is also a rewarding time to visit Gatlinburg. The red maple trees that shroud the Great Smoky Mountains turn deep crimson and orange in color during that time, making it a sight to see and a pure wonder of nature.

Coming to the mountains? It only makes sense to stay in the mountains of Gatlinburg! For mountains of information, call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748) or visit Gatlinburg online at

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Phase VI of Underground Utilities And Streetscape Project Brings Fresh Appearance To South End Of Parkway

At long last, Phase VI of the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project is substantially complete. And in the opinion of many of those parties involved, the lasting improvements were worth the inconveniences.

The section of Parkway extending from the Gatlinburg Convention Center to the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park now features the same aesthetic upgrades which enhance much of the rest of Parkway, including new streetlights, public sidewalks and furnishings, all without the clutter of utility lines and poles.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the business community on the South end of town as well as our residents and visitors,” said City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “It has been a long, challenging undertaking which has required some sacrifices, a good bit of tolerance and a lot of faith, but I believe everyone can agree that the change in the look and feel of the entire project area is quite dramatic.”

The difficult, detailed process of transforming the area began in mid-August of last year. At approximately 1,850 feet in length, Phase VI is the largest single Underground Phase to date. It included the construction of underground duct banks to house electrical, telephone and cable television lines on both sides of Parkway. Water and sewer improvements were also encompassed in the project.

The replacement of the steel bridge at the intersection of Parkway and Leconte Street was one of the most challenging components of Phase VI, including the widening of the turning radius from Parkway to Leconte Street.

The Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project was a joint effort of the City, the design firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., the contractor Efficient Electric, and local utilities involved in the undertaking.
New street lighting, benches, trash receptacles and signage are strategically placed along the street and new sidewalk has been installed on public right-of-ways. Several planters have been placed to accommodate seasonal plantings and small trees.

Distinctive crosswalks will be installed in the area in mid-July with updated signage also still to be added.

Including the $7.8 million that covers both design engineering and construction costs of Phase VI, the City of Gatlinburg and business community have now invested approximately $24 million in the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project, dating to the late 1990s with the development of the original master plan and Riverwalk/Aquarium area.

Property owners in the Phase VI area will be assessed 20 percent of the cost, approximately $1.52 million, which may be paid over a 15 year timeframe or on a lump-sum basis.

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Free Parkway Trolley starts tomorrow!

Starting June 15, the City of Gatlinburg will offer free trolley service to patrons along the length of the Parkway for nine weeks this Summer.

The Free Parkway Trolley program was such a big success last year on a trial basis that it has been implemented for the 2012 season, allowing visitors and local residents to board one of three specially designated trolleys at numerous stops along the Parkway at no charge. The shuttle service route extends from Traffic Light #1 at the north end of town to Light #10 at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“We are pleased to once again offer this very popular free trolley service during our peak season,” said City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “It provides our visitors, residents and business community more accessibility to sections of our downtown business district.”
The free specially painted open-air shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from June 15 through August 18. Extra stops have been established along the special route to bring the number to 40 along Parkway.

Nearly 1,300 riders took advantage of the Free Parkway Trolley daily during the 49 days of the pilot program in 2011.

Approximately 800,000 patrons use Gatlinburg’s trolleys annually, making it the fifth-largest mass transit system in the state. It originated in 1980 with only six trolleys, but the fleet has grown to 20-plus trolleys servicing approximately 50 miles of trolley routes.

All Gatlinburg trolleys are handicap accessible.

You can now hop aboard the Gatlinburg Trolleys all day long for just $2 a day with unlimited access to the Red, Blue, Purple, Yellow and Green Trolley routes. The $2 Pass is sold at City Welcome Centers as well as at City Hall and the Mass Transit Center, plus numerous Gatlinburg lodging facilities.

To watch a video about Gatlinburg’s mass transit system or view the current location of trolleys, or for additional information, visit Click on the GPS trolley locator and a City map will appear pinpointing trolleys in service. The box color indicates the trolley route color.

For more information, visit any City Welcome Center or call (865) 436-0535.

Categories: Gatlinburg News | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment Recognizes Gatlinburg as one of America’s Prettiest Towns

According to Recognizes Gatlinburg as one of America’s Prettiest Towns feature image

“With its charming, quaint old buildings in the center of town, its dramatic mountain backdrop and the only ski resort in Tennessee, Gatlinburg has become a popular tourist destination for regional fun-seekers. Located on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg benefits from its location as a tourist draw and reinforces it with attractions such as an aerial tramway, an aquarium, whitewater rafting, hiking, and even a haunted house. But let’s not kid ourselves: as pretty and irresistible (as) the town is, the real draw in this part of Tennessee is the nature. ‘The wildflowers around Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are absolutely spectacular in the spring as they burst with wildflowers at their peak,’ says Zain Habboo, National Geographic’s director of travel.”

“We are very thrilled with this honor from Forbes,” said Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “We are blessed to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and we take pride in being the gateway community to the country’s most-visited national park. It truly is a wonderful place to enjoy.”

Forbes says Gatlinburg ranks among the best cities to look at along with such places as Newport, Rhode Island; St. Augustine, Florida; Taos, New Mexico; and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The magazine says the rankings were created with input from sources such as National Geographic and The Travel Channel.

The City of Gatlinburg is completing the sixth phase of its Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project. Since the late 1990s, Gatlinburg has been burying utilities underground and improving the aesthetics of the downtown area, something that City Manager Cindy Ogle says takes the cooperation of the City, the business community and residents.

“Of course, it has taken a lot of people doing a lot of good things to allow us to earn this lofty recognition,” said Ogle. “It’s been a great public-private collaboration of dedication that has dramatically improved the aesthetics of the Parkway and helped us blend in with the Smokies.”

Come to Gatlinburg and see for yourself!

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