In November of 2016 there were wildfires at Smoky Mountain National Park. People lost homes and businesses, portions of the woods were burned, and unfortunately some people even lost their lives. It was a very scary and tragic event that will have repercussions for many years to come.
Photo Credit: WBIR Taken 12/9/16
People who love the area want you to know (whether they are permanent residents, or just visit once in a while) that Gatlinburg and the surrounding area is up and running and as vital as it ever was!! Downtown Gatlinburg wasn’t greatly affected by the fire, neither was Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, or most of the acreage in the park for that matter.
You will see some fire damage, There were homes and forested areas and resorts that suffered great damage. I was there in December 2016 and even then, less than a month after the wildfires, Gatlinburg was up and running strong! Those Tennessee folks sure are resilient! So please – go – visit, set a spell in a rocking chair on a porch. Gatlinburg will be happy to have you!
So you like to shop and you want to do some shopping on your vacation in Tennessee? Pigeon Forge is the place to go if you really want a large number of stores. Don’t get me wrong, Gatlinburg has plenty of shopping as well, but the stores are more limited since they are mostly in the 1 mile that is downtown Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg has smaller stores and it’s best to park your car behind the main drag or in a lot and walk the sidewalks going in and out of the specialty stores. Lots of fudge and candy stores. There’s also a McDonald’s, Bubba Gumps, KFC, and Walgreens on the main drag, so you’ll have some mainstream stores and familiar restaurants to suit your taste. I hear the Outpost close to stop light 10 is a really great store for outdoor gear, we haven’t been there yet.
Pigeon Forge is a whole other story, on the main drag you’ll find one store after another. A lot of them are even repeats of stores found a few blocks away. There is a whole shopping center just for Christmas, and you can do lunch there as well. For those of you who are die-hard designer shoppers you’ll find plenty to buy at the Tanger Outlets just north of Pigeon Forge in Sevierville.
Do you want a quiet vacation in Gatlinburg – January is apparently the time. We are here for a long weekend and the crowds are non-existent. The weather is great, 50-60 degrees during the day. The neighborhood we are staying in has very little activity, not a lot of people renting the cabins this time of year. So if you want a quiet vacation in Gatlinburg, January will serve you well.
The festivities start early in the evening with music playing at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Crowds gather at the base of the 342 foot Space Needle in downtown Gatlinburg and a music stage is setup to entertain young and old. At the stroke of midnight the ball drops and fireworks commence. Sounds fun, and something I have to add to my bucket list.
Here is a video of the New Year’s Eve celebration:
Do you need a place to stay when you are vacationing in the Gatlinburg area? How about a stay in your very own log cabin?
Check out this video for Jackson Mountain Homes, a Gatlinburg cabin rental company. The video also shows some of the Gatlinburg area.
The cost is comparable to a nice hotel room, but the amenities are much better! You have your own home which equals privacy, a full kitchen, hot tub, fireplace, front porch with rockers and a grill, pool table and/or other games for entertainment.
Do you like to ski? Down the side of a mountain? And have plenty of night-time spots for extra-curricular activities? Maybe you need a vacation in Gatlinburg. “What?” you say, “I thought Gatlinburg was for hiking and shopping and dinner shows.” Well you are right about that – Gburg has plenty of activities to keep everyone busy year round. But when the weather gets cold, and there is snow on the mountain, skiing, snow tubing, ice skating, and snowboarding are popular at Ober Gatlinburg, the local ski resort.
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
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.