Summer is fast approaching, and as the temperatures of eastern Tennessee rise, we love finding fun and creative activities that help us cool off. Read on for just a few of the exciting ways we’re looking forward to doing so, while taking advantage of the region’s unique culture and scenery.

Bathe Near a Waterfall

There are several spots in the Smokies where you can bathe and splash around a pool formed by a waterfall. (Swimming directly beneath the fall, where rocks are more slippery, is generally not advised.) These include the Sinks, near Gatlinburg, and the pool at Abrams Falls in Cades Cove.

Sip Local Beer

Excellent beer can be found at the four Smoky Mountain Brewery locations throughout the region. Sample the signature black Bear Ale or seasonal flavors, such as Raspberry Wheat, while attending karaoke parties, trivia, and other fun weekly programs in the brewery’s adjacent pub.

Hike Through a Valley

If heat rises and cold sinks, it follows that another great way for outdoorsy visitors to Pigeon Forge to cool off is trekking around a valley. Try Cataloochee, where you may experience elk sightings during certain times of day, or verdant Cades Cove, home to white-tailed deer and black bears.

Nibble Homemade Ice Cream

Summer is the perfect time to savor homemade ice cream. Try traditional flavors, as well as unexpected options such as banana pudding and whiskey. We recommend Marble Slab Creamery, the Old Mill Creamery, and Mad Dog’s Creamery, as  well as Island Creamery, located at The Island in Pigeon Forge.

Enjoy the Breeze on the Alpine Coaster

Where better to enjoy a refreshing breeze than a coaster car shooting down the mountains at high speed? Trying out the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, you’ll experience a one-mile, eight-minute journey down the longest downhill track in America.

Take on Class III and IV Rapids

There’s no place for whitewater rafting quite like the Smokies — so link up with suppliers like National Geographic Adventure-approved Natahala Outdoor Center and take on twelve Class III and IV rapids in Pigeon River.

Hit the Slopes

Yes, you read that right. If you need to cool down quickly, Pigeon Forge Snow, America’s first indoor snow park, is open year-round and offers a tubing course, plus a dedicated Snow Play area with snowmen and snow forts.

Experience the Winterfest Lights

Every winter, Sevier County becomes a winter wonderland with more than 5 million lights brightening the night. Now in its 31st year, Winterfest has become one of the most anticipated celebrations in the Smokies. Wherever you drive in the county, you’re sure to see many stunning light displays. Businesses get in on the fun, too. You can see amazing arrangements at The Old Mill, The Island, Dolly Parton’s Stampede and so many more! The city of Pigeon Forge publishes a Winterfest Driving Tour Map that YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HERE that will take you through all the best lights in the city.

Take a Winter Hike Through the Smoky Mountains

There is truly something special about hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter. Many people probably think hiking in the winter sounds too cold, but there are some things in the park you can only see in the winter! So bundle up and check out the distant views from the Smokies!

The winter reveals lots of things that are usually hidden. Since the trees are bare in the winter, you can see much farther into the woods while you’re hiking. It gives you the feeling of walking through a wide open space. Also, during the winter, you will have a better chance of viewing wildlife without leaves obscuring the vision.

You’ll also get the chance to see some artifacts you probably missed in the summer and spring seasons. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has the largest collection of human artifacts out of all the national parks. But, many of these artifacts are hidden by the foliage most of the year.

Not to mention all the amazing things you’ll see on a winter hike, there are other perks to hiking this season. Because so many people are turned away from falling temperatures, you won’t have to navigate the large crowds during the busier spring and summer months. The trails are quiet, serene, and offer a better chance of reflection.

If you do decide to tackle a winter hike, make sure you’re prepared. Higher elevations in the park can experience sudden snow, icy conditions and sudden dropping temperatures. Vesna Plakanis from A WALK IN THE WOODS reminds winter hikers to dress in layers that keep you warm and dry, and to drink lots of water. Another thing to consider is road closures. Several secondary roads in the park close in the winter, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE NATIONAL PARK’S WEBSITE FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ROAD CLOSURES. Preparation is key, but a properly planned winter hike can be magical!

Take a Guided Tour Through the Smokies

Do you want to explore the Smokies but don’t want to deal with the stress of driving or picking a trail to explore? That stress can be especially high in the winter when dealing with snowy or icy conditions. Well, why not take a guided tour through the Smoky Mountains? It takes all the guesswork and stress out of traveling. Worrying about where to stop? Your guide has it covered. Looking for a sight to see off the beaten path? Your guide knows all the spots. Guide services can help connect you with anything you need to have a great vacation, from securing lodging and restaurant reservations to securing tickets to the best attractions. If you’re looking for an amazing guide service to take you and your family through the Smokies, be sure to check out the following chamber members:

A WALK IN THE WOODS

ROCKY TOP TOURS

PINK JEEP TOURS 

SMOKY MOUNTAIN TOUR CONNECTION

Winter-time Shopping

With holiday deals, after-Christmas sales and winter offerings, winter is the perfect time of year to do some shopping! It can get you out of the cold and offer a fun respite from outside. Also, just like hiking in the winter, you will be dealing with smaller crowds. This makes for a calmer shopping experience. There are lots of places in the Smokies where you can find many shops concentrated in one area, like TANGER OUTLETS. Tanger Outlets in Sevierville offers your favorite brands in one spot so you don’t have to spend a long in the cold before heading to your next shop!

Explore the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community

The GREAT SMOKY ARTS AND CRAFTS COMMUNITY is the largest collection of crafters and traditional artists in the United States. On their 8-mile loop in Gatlinburg, TN, you’ll have the opportunity to visit over 200 different businesses focused on specific traditional arts. From soap makers to woodworkers to glass blowers and potters, the only limit to what you’ll find in the community is the time you have to spend there.

The community and 8 mile loop is open during the winter. And, visiting in the winter is especially fun. The drive on the loop is already scenic in other seasons, but the white on the trees and nip in the air make it extra beautiful. Many businesses in the community regularly offer demos to show off their skills or even classes to teach you how to do what they do. Be sure to check out this amazing community this winter, and see what all they have to offer.

Have a Winter Adventure at Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is the ultimate destination for a winter adventure in the Smokies. For many people, winter in the Smokies means one thing: skiing and snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg. The slopes at Ober tentatively opens during the holiday season and continues throughout the winter. There are 10 different ski trails at the park with varying levels of difficulty. Everyone, from beginners to experts, can have a great time!

If you’re new to skiing or snowboarding, the folks at Ober also offer lessons from experts in the field. Not up for skiing, but still love the snow? Snow tubing is a great option for everyone – there’s nothing like zipping down the huge hill on an intertube! When you’re done hitting the slopes, you still have so much to do. Your family can head inside to check out the plethora of shops, the food court, or even go ice skating and try out the ice bumper cars!

Take a Scenic Drive Through Cades Cove in the Winter

Anyone who has driven through CADES COVE knows that is one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. But, in the winter, there is a special beauty to Cades Cove that you won’t find any other time of the year. One of the most popular things to do is to take a winter drive. Cades Cove is situated on an 11-mile one-way loop road that gives you the chance to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Along the way, there are plenty of pull-offs if you want to stop and take in the scenery. You’ll definitely want to take your time. With the bare trees of winter, you have a much greater chance of seeing some of the wildlife that calls the cove home. Some of the animals you could potentially see include black bears, white-tail deer, coyotes, turkeys, and more!

One of the coolest things about Cades Cove at any time of the year is the history. Cades Cove has a plethora of historic sites from the early European settlers to the area as well as evidence of the original hunters of the cove: the Cherokee. Some of the many historical sites include three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and several other restored buildings. You can grab a self-guiding tour booklet at the start of the cove that discusses the history of the area.

Like we indicated earlier in our list, winter hiking is an awesome activity. And, Cades Cove has no shortage of fun winter hikes. Two hikes of particular interest are Abrams Falls and the Middle Prong Trail. Abrams Falls is a five mile, moderately strenuous hike that culminates with the titular waterfall. Although Abrams Falls is only 20 feet tall, the massive volume of water that rushes over makes up for it! The Middle Prong Trail is considered one of the best waterfall hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll pass by three major waterfalls, several smaller falls, cataracts, and cascades. Winter is the only time when you’ll have a chance to see beautiful frozen waterfalls while hiking the Middle Prong Trail.

Take a Spin on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

Whenever you visit riding the iconic Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is a must. Riding the wheel is fun any time of year. But, when you ride in the winter, you have the chance to see the beautiful mountains blanketed with snow. There’s nothing like experiencing a bird’s eye view of Pigeon Forge during a winter snow shower. If you’re worried about the cold, don’t stress. Each pod that you ride in on the wheel is climate controlled, meaning you can have a comfortable ride any time of year!

View Nighttime Winterfest Lights from the Sky

You can now experience the magic of Winterfest from a one-of-a-kind point of view!  Scenic Helicopters will launch its Winterfest Night Flight tours in conjunction with Pigeon Forge’s Smoky Mountain Winterfest. This guided tour will fly you over the cities of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge

on your way to see the millions of twinkling lights of Dollywood and The Island. Scenic’s pilots are your helicopter adventure guides, providing their unique perspective of the cities and lights below. 

Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Rain or shine, snow or sun, there’s never a bad time to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  This immersive facility is regularly recognized as one of the top aquariums in the United States. And, in 2016, it was named by USA Today as the best place in the US to see penguins! There are so many exhibits to explore and animals to see, that you could spend the entire day at Ripley’s and still have more to do. In addition to their exhibits, the aquarium regularly hosts special events, such as divers heading into the shark tank to feed the fish. Once you’re done checking out the fish, the kids can enjoy the aquarium’s new gigantic indoor playground! If you’re looking to escape the cold and still have an adventure, Ripley’s is the place to go.

 

There’s something timelessly romantic about sleepy mountain towns, making them perfect for romantic getaways. This season, venture to Pigeon Forge, nestled in the vast Smoky Mountains, with the one you love. Celebrate your romance in a destination packed with adventure, relaxation, entertainment, and much more. To make things easy for you, we’ve put together a guide to planning a romantic getaway in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

Go for a Hike

Pigeon Forge’s greatest treasure is its location, right next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once inside, you can choose from more than 50 trails of varying altitude, skill level, views, and more. If you’re up for a tranquil surprise at the end of your hike, we recommend heading out on the Rainbow Falls Trail. This 5.4-mile (round-trip) hike is one of the most scenic in the Smoky Mountains, and you’ll find an 80-foot waterfall at the end.

Share a Romantic Dinner

Enjoy an evening of tasty dishes, fancy wines, and great conversation in one of Pigeon Forge’s many dining destinations. Make a reservation at Bullfish Grill, voted the best restaurant in town. Highlights from the menu are the Grand Champion Angus and the fresh, high-quality fish. Also explore the curated selection of wines and ales, which pair perfectly which whatever you choose to indulge in. 

Spend the Day at the Spa

Treat yourselves to a day of relaxation at the Spa at RiverStone, also located in Pigeon Forge. Pamper your sore muscles after a few hikes and reset your mind in a tranquil, stress-free facility. Choose from therapeutic massages, facials, and body treatments to melt your worries away, or book a couples’ package to refresh your body and mind together.

Act Like a Kid Again

Go back in time to enjoy the simplicity of being a kid at one of the many attractions around town. Test your skills at mini-golf, go head to head on the go-kart track, or try one of the extreme activities offered in the area. If you’re looking for something a little different, roll downhill in a giant inflatable ball, free fall at indoor skydiving, or even climb the indoor ropes course at WonderWorks. Get your heart racing and enjoy the rush together.

If you’re ready to book your romantic retreat in Pigeon Forge, check out the Sweetheart Package at  Courtyard by Marriott at Pigeon Forge, including deluxe accommodations and a romantic couples’ massage and facial.

The Smoky Mountains are great for anyone to visit, but they’re downright amazing for kids, thanks to the educational activities galore. Here you can find hours and hours of kid-oriented educational fun, from experiential learning to environmental and wilderness courses and local history museums. Read on to learn about some of the best options.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

This is one of the nation’s best aquariums, and it’s located right in the middle of all the Smokies fun. It has over 10,000 species of ocean life housed across 10 themed galleries. There are learning programs for all ages, and the whole family will enjoy the glass tunnel through Shark Lagoon, the chance to pet stingrays and penguins, and a ride in a glass-bottom boat.

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Titanic Museum Attraction

You won’t have trouble finding this half-size model of the actual Titanic. Inside the ship-shaped museum you’ll find an actual-size replica of the ill-fated ship’s staircase, hundreds of artifacts from the real ship, and a lifeboat exactly like those on the Titanic that you can sit in. Every guest experiences history in a personal way with a boarding pass showing an actual passenger or crew member’s name.

WonderWorks

About 150 meters up the Parkway from the Titanic Museum Attraction is the WonderWorks Pigeon Cove location. Curiosity and learning will be all that happens from the moment you see the building, which looks like an upside-down White House. Inside, kids learn science in experiential ways. A fun example is the Earthquake Café, featuring a simulation of a 5.3-magnitude earthquake.

RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo

A less-crowded take on the city zoo, the RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo allows you to get up close and personal with over 130 species of animals from rainforests all over the world. Entrance is an affordable $12.99 for ages 3-12, and kids under three years old can enter free. You’ll be able to feed and pet some animals, see some of the rarest monkeys on earth, and learn all about the zoo’s animals in a live show.

Great Smoky Mountains Institute

For those more serious about education, the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont offers overnight stays for kids and families as well educational programs like wilderness emergency response and Appalachian naturalism. The Institute has a specific focus on the Smokies themselves and how education is the key to true enjoyment and preservation of them.

Little River Railroad Museum and Mountain Farm Museum

For local history, try the Little River Railroad Museum. Through its exhibits, this museum both preserves and highlights the communities that existed before the national park opened, including Native Americans and settlers. On the opposite side of the park from the Little River, the Mountain Farm Museum offers a visitor center, trails, and historic buildings where you can see how communities of the past sustained themselves with the Smoky Mountains’ natural resources.

Plan Your Educational Adventure

This list gives you only a sampling of the best kid-friendly educational fun in the Smokies. The park and its surroundings have unlimited fun for kids, including firefly viewings, nature walks, bike rentals and tours, and much more. Check out the exclusive offers at Courtyard by Marriott Pigeon Forge and make sure you get the best rate.

Among the many ways to experience nature in the Smokies, wildflower blooms are one of the best. Every year in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the spectacular annual display starts off in late February with spring ephemerals and runs through the summer months into fall. Below are a few places a wildflower lover must see when it’s springtime in the Smokies.

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Are you bummed out by another few days of forecasted rain? Allow yourself a moment to dream about spring wildflowers! Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is a native, woody vine that blooms from late April to late May in moist, lower elevation areas. While we await the warmth of spring, look out for the almost evergreen, paired leaves that are easily spotted during winter, climbing through the forests. Photos by: Warren Bielenburg (1) and NPS: C. Bennett (2); Image descriptions: (1) Bugle-shaped crossvine flowers, reddish orange at the base and center with yellow petals folding out of the middle area. (2) Green crossvine leaves with flecks of purple climb a tree with tan to light brown bark. Photo taken looking upward on the tree trunk.

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The Sugarlands

The Sugarlands is a popular place for park visitors and the perfect beginning for a tour of Smoky Mountain wildflowers. The Old Sugarlands Trail and the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail are both easy to access, located not far from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Along these trails, you’ll find fringed phacelia and mayflower blanketing the forest floor in spring and early summer, with white trillium peeking through. Also in the area are bloodroot, spring beauty, and heal-all, to name a few.

Cove Hardwood Nature Trail

Cove Hardwood Self-Guided Nature Trail is one of the most highly recommended places for viewing gorgeous Smoky Mountain wildflowers. The trail loop begins just a little farther up Newfound Gap Road from the Sugarlands, at Chimneys Picnic Area. At the trailhead you’ll find brochures to guide you. The hike is not very strenuous, and the payoff is huge. March and April see large blooms of bloodroot and hepatica, while dwarf iris and several varieties of trillium come out in May and early summer.

Little River Trail

None of Smoky Mountain National Park’s 312 trails will have everything, but the Little River Trail is a solid introduction. From the trailhead in Elkmont Campground, the trail takes an easy upward slope along the Little River. Views of wildflowers along the trail are some of the best in the park. From mid-March through April, you’ll find violets, mayflower, rue anemone, dwarf cinquefoil, and stonecrop. Excellent opportunities for wildflower photography await you as well, with common sightings of exquisite beauties such as pink lady’s slipper.

Deep Creek

Another wildflower spot that won’t disappoint is Deep Creek. The whole area has appeal for the outdoor enthusiast, but for the wildflower viewer it is a paradise. Easy hikes along the Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails will take you past a diverse sampling of the Smokies’ 1,500 wildflower species. In spring, you can expect to see jack-in-the-pulpit, various bluets, wild geranium, and Solomon’s seal, to name a few.

These are just some handpicked favorites from Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s hundreds of amazing wildflower spots. There is also the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, a late-April festival that celebrates the Smokies’ stunning array of wildflower blooms, during which you can check out these locations and countless others.

Plan Your Spring Getaway

Eager to see these beautiful blooms on your own spring getaway? Check out the exclusive offers at Courtyard by Marriott Pigeon Forge and make sure you get the best rate.

From hiking to biking to skydiving, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding Smoky Mountains have an outdoor activity for everyone (and some indoor ones too). Read up on the many ways you can get active throughout the region.

Ziplining

Numerous canopy tours in the area include Pigeon Forge’s Smoky Mountain Ziplines, Gatlinburg’s CLIMB Works, and The Dome Ziplines. Experience up to eleven zipline trails, over two-and-a-half total hours at an elevation of up to 450 feet.

Hiking

Hiking is the single most popular outdoor activity throughout the Smokies, as the region holds more than 850 miles of hiking terrain and a whopping 311 trails. Review our hiking guide [link to article] for introductions to some of the more popular trails.

Biking

Biking is another way to experience the national park’s 500,000-plus verdant acres. Although there are no mountain-biking trails in the region, advanced road bikers can take on the paved roads within the park, as well as the Deep Creek Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail, and sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater-rafting instructors such as the staff members at Natahala Outdoor Center (a National Geographic favorite) can take you along the class III and IV rapids of the Pigeon River, on a tour of up to 6.5 miles. Shorter, milder tours are available for families with small children.

Skydiving

The most popular Smoky Mountain skydiving destination is not the park itself, but indoor wind tunnels in Pigeon Forge and nearby Mohawk. However, for those brave enough to try the real thing, Skydive East Tennessee — roughly 40 minute from Pigeon Forge — offers the “tandem” version with licensed instructors.

Adventure Parks

For something different from the usual Smoky Mountains activities, the Adventureworks Climb Zip Swing offers a ropes course with hanging nets, grapevines, and dangling bridges suspended up to 40 feet high. Nearby Anakeesta, in Gatlinburg, comprises 16 soaring sky bridges, and two ropes courses are housed within The Island shopping and entertainment complex.

Get Active

Ready to pick your Pigeon Forge itinerary? Check out the exclusive offers at Courtyard by Marriott Pigeon Forge and make sure you get the best rate.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the Smoky Mountains are an ideal place to unleash your inner outdoor-enthusiast. In fact, the region’s trails frequently appear in leading hiking magazines and websites, such as Outside and Backpacker. Here’s a breakdown of eight of the more popular trails near Pigeon Forge — including several waterfall trails, the famous Clingmans Dome Observatory trail, and more.

Alum Cave Trail

The scenic, rhododendron-fringed Alum Cave Trail, on Mount LeConte, includes rocky steps, archways, and an unusual bluff. (Beware of falling icicles in winter.) The 10-mile, 2,942-foot trail additionally boasts an interesting history, having formerly been a mine for epsom salts.

Rainbow Falls Trail

The 5.5-mile, 1,653-foot Rainbow Falls trail is known for wildlife, its vast boulder field, and its assortment of falls, including smaller cascades falls along with the namesake.

Grotto Falls Trail

One of the more moderate trails, 2.6-mile, 534-foot Grotto Falls offers multiple falls, beautiful flowers in spring — such as whiteviolets and yellow trillium — and lush greenery.

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Porters Creek Trail

The flower-dotted four-mile Porters Creek Trail, reaching an elevation of 699 feet, comprises stretches of forest, roads, and even a portion of a former farmstead beside a cemetery.

Gatlinburg Trail

One of the park’s only dog-friendly rails, the generally flat 3.9-mile Gatlinburg Trail boasts cascades, long wooden footbridges, and direct access to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Clingmans Dome

The short path to Clingmans Dome runs along a creek and forest before reaching the famed observatory, the highest point in the national park and eastern Tennessee.

Cades Cove Loop

Cades Cove Loop’s 11-mile trail houses not just verdant greenery and dramatic rock formations, but abundant wildlife and historic sites, including a working grist mill.

Ramsey Cascades Loop

The Ramsey Cascades Loop reaches the tallest waterfall in the park via a path dotted with creeks, footbridges, and old-growth oak and maple trees.

Hit the Trails

Ready to explore these magnificent hiking trails for yourself? Check out our four sister hotels in Pigeon Forge by visiting www.ExploreSmokies.com.

The Great Smoky Mountains aren’t simply a great place to experience nature — they’re also an incredible cultural destination, with extensive history and rich traditions. Next time you visit, why not explore these different sides of the region at the same time? Below, we share local hiking trails that will lead you to historic landmarks, along with a handful of acclaimed local history museums you can reach without the trek.

Little Cataloochee Church

The Little Cataloochee Church is one of the largest relics of the historic Little Cataloochee “island community,” which occupied the area until the 1930s. Set in the Cataloochee Valley, also home to a thriving elk population, it’s accessible via an eight-mile round-trip walk that also passes by log cabins and lush fields. 

East Tennessee Historical Society

The Tennessee Historical Society boasts 24 Smoky Mountain landscape paintings by Jim Gray — valued at more than $1,000,000 — as well as extensive permanent exhibitions on the local culture and temporary exhibitions on topics from local quilting traditions to basket-weaving techniques.

Noah Ogle Place

Noah “Bud” Ogle Place — also known as the Junglebrook Historic District — houses a former homestead on the National Register of Historic Places. One of TripAdvisor’s top 20 attractions in the Smokies, it is known for charming foliage and scenery, as well as nineteenth-century architecture, given its location near LeConte Creek, in the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River.

Little River Railroad Museum

Another engaging stop for history buffs is the Little River Railroad Museum. Here you’ll learn about the namesake river’s role in the daily lives of Native Americans, pioneers, farmers, and loggers — as well as the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company, whose main investor once owned much of today’s national park.

Palmer Chapel

The Palmer Chapel is known for playing an important role in Methodist religious revivals. You’ll reach it by taking what happens to be one of the steepest and most challenging trails in the park, along steep rocks and a cemetery.

*Note that hiking poles are highly recommended for this one, as the path can be slippery. 

The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

If you’re interested in learning more about the local history, without the hike, don’t miss the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. The museum holds collections devoted to five National Parks, the local Native American tribes, and the history of local transportation. Quilts and cannons are among the artifacts on display.

Mingus Mill

Roughly a half mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, Mingus Mill is one of just a handful of living-history destinations throughout the Smokies. It comprises a historic grist mill with a water-powered turbine, which you can learn about from an on-site miller, and shares its grounds with several other historic properties.

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The rain rolls out later today and then the forecast calls for several days of sunny weather with chilly nights. It will be the perfect time to explore the Smokies during our last week or two of fall colors. Photo is from a prior year although we will be out photographing the Smokies in the coming days to show you the current conditions. 📍the mill race at #MingusMill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park by @zack_knudsen. #greatsmokies #gsmnp #greatsmokymountainsnationalpark #smokymountains #naturalnorthcarolina #ncmountains #greatsmokymountains #beautifuldestinations #visitnc #appalachian_explorers #landscape_captures #sltravels #greatsmokeymountains #romanticasheville #onlyinnorthcarolina #ourstatemag #ourstate #discover_carolinas #adventureappalachia #wnc #outaboutnc #explorecarolina #wnc #friendsofthesmokies #ashevilletrails #ncoutdoors #open828 #ncoutdoor_inc #travelentrepreneur ***Use the hashtag #brysoncity for a chance to be featured on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Check us out on GreatSmokies.com!

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If it feels like there’s always something new and exciting happening in the Great Smokies — well, that’s because there is. Read on for a guide to the best festivals, sporting competitions, and other events you can look forward to in 2020.

Smoky Mountain Winterfest — January and February

Smoky Mountain Winterfest is the region’s winter light show, offering arts and crafts, shows, and more than 15 million glittering lights.

King of the Mountain — January

The region’s top technical and freestyle skiers compete during the annual “King of the Mountain” event at Ober Gatlinburg resort.

A Mountain Quiltfest — March

The 26th annual A Mountain Quiltfest brings regional quilters together for five days of classes, demonstrations, and shows.

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament — April

Fishermen of all levels face off to catch trout from the Little Pigeon River.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage — April

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage invites locals and visitors to embark on bird-watching tours, insect walks, and photography workshops led by knowledgeable guides and instructors.

Dolly Homecoming Parade — May

Thousands of locals line up to welcome Dolly Parton back to town at the Dolly Homecoming Parade, featuring floats, marching bands, and local entertainers.

Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival — May

Heaping platters of the namesake dishes are served at the Gatlinburg Beans and Cornbread Festival, which is considered an “ode to the culinary past of Appalachia.”

Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales — June, July, August

Musicians, actors, and storytellers take over downtown Gatlinburg during the summer Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales event.

Summer Concert Series — June, July, August

As a part of the Summer Concert Series, bluegrass, rock, and country musicians perform at venues such as Ole Smoky and Sugarlands.

First Independence Day Parade in the Nation — July

Gatlinburg kicks off the Fourth of July right as the clock strikes midnight, with floats, bands, and military motorcades.

Old Mill Heritage Day — September

The Old Mill Heritage Day celebration sees Old Mill Square hosting interactive events and activities, such as square dances, sorghum-making demonstrations, and bluegrass performances.

Chalkfest at the Island — October

During the annual Chalkfest event, The Island shopping and entertainment complex transforms into a larger-than-life canvas for creative murals in chalk.

Dollywood Harvest Festival — October

The Dollywood Harvest Festival boasts a pumpkin patch, a jack-o’-lantern spectacular, and demonstrations by local artisans and musicians.

Titanic Thanksgiving Fireworks — November

The Titanic Museum rings in the holiday season with a festive fireworks show on the evening before Thanksgiving.

Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival — December

Dollywood’s Christmas celebration includes gospel shows, musical performances inspired by “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and a nightly parade.