Winter Beauty in the Park

Porch View

View from the front porch of Southern Serenity on a frozen January day.

I just never thought I’d find a winter drive in the Smoky Mountains beautiful. But I did. We were in Gatlinburg for a long weekend in January 2013 and one of the days the rain turned to icy drips on the surrounding scenery. Sitting on the porch in my rocking chair the view is very pretty as you can see in these photos. Driving in the park was really fantastic.

Another view from the porch.

Another view from the porch.

Icicles on the roof. They melted within days.

Icicles on the roof. They melted within days.

We drove through the park from Gatlinburg to Townsend on this day, and there was a beauty in the park that I would never had expected. The sky was overcast, the waterfalls had icicles forming along the edges, and the trees had a whitish cast from the snow and ice crystals. As you can imagine there weren’t many people driving in the park on this day so it was a quiet and relaxing drive. If you find yourself in the area in the winter and you have the opportunity to safely drive through the park when there is ice on the landscape, take it, but be safe.

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Gatlinburg Holiday Light Show via Trolley

Gatlinburg Trolley Ride of Lights November 2012 to January 2013

Every year Gatlinburg lights up the night with millions of lights in displays throughout downtown and the surrounding area including Highway 321. There are many different scenes depicted and some even appear to be moving. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the night-time scenery.

Lighted displays

Over the past 23 years Gatlinburg has changed their lights from incandescent to LED resulting in a huge electricity savings, over 95%. The amount of electricity now used to power the lights for 120 days previously powered the lights for only three days!

River Road Covered in Lights

The light show runs every year from early November to the last day of February. You can drive the Gatlinburg area yourself to see the lights. We like to take the Trolley which is available right next to the Ripley’s Aquarium at traffic light #5. This season the Trolley Ride of Lights will run until January 26, 2013. For $5 you can hop on the Trolley and a local resident storyteller will fill you in on the history of Gatlinburg. It is a fun and fascinating ride, and I recommend it!

Smoky Mountain Geology

Although I have wondered how the mountains in Tennessee were formed, I got my first inkling of the formation of the mountains when I toured Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies last month:


Smoky Mountain Formation

Smoky Mountain Formation

Then the other night I was watching Curiosity:Beneath America on Discovery and the formation of the different mountain ranges in America was illustrated.  I was surprised to learn that the Appalachian Mountain range is the oldest range in the United States. Apparently they were once taller than the Rocky Mountain range.  Wind and water erosion has taken them to their current height.

The Appalachians were formed when the earth had one giant continent called Pangaea.  When Pangaea moved it caused the tectonic plates to collide pushing up the rock which formed the Appalachian Mountain range.  See this government site about The Great Smoky Mountains.