What’s New In The Smokies For 2017?

Now that spring is here officially, a lot of folks are already planning their next trip to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Whether you’re thinking about heading this way next week or during the summer or even next fall, we hope you’ll consider reserving one of our Wears Valley cabin rentals for your vacation accommodations. We have luxury cabins to fit every size party and every budget, and our peaceful, scenic locations are likely to make you fall in love with the mountains all over again.

And if your next trip back happens to be your first visit of 2017, you may be interested to know that there are several new attractions and points of interest that may not have been around last time you here. This week, we thought we’d share a few highlights of places to consider working into your vacation itinerary.

  • Ripley’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure

This new feature of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg puts just three inches of glass between visitors and the inhabitants of the attraction’s Shark Lagoon. Each 16-foot boat features a large pane of glass in the center of the floor, allowing passengers to gaze into the waters below to observe the sharks and other ocean creatures as they swim along the reef underneath.

  • Alcatraz East Crime Museum

Explore American history from a criminal perspective at this new Pigeon Forge attraction. Five unique galleries burrow deep into the worlds of criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victims, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and the judiciary branch of government. The 25,000-square-foot attraction covers two levels and includes more than 100 interactive exhibits.

 

 

  • New Dollywood Ride

Dollywood theme park and Dollywood Splash Country water park in Pigeon Forge are offering several new rides and attractions for guests this season.

First, Drop Line is a new 200-foot-tall free-fall experience that towers over Dollywood’s Timber Canyon section, providing an incredible view of the park as riders ascend to the top of the tower. Then the ride drops guests nearly 20 stories in an exhilarating free fall down toward the Canyon’s water feature below.

Next, Whistle Punk Chaser is a new junior coaster that throws thrilling twists and turns at Dollywood’s younger thrill-ride fans, preparing them for the day when they can join their parents aboard award-winning adult grown-up coasters like Thunderhead and Wild Eagle.

Finally, water park guests can enjoy the new TailSpin Racer, a wet-and-wild group of slides featuring unique, spiraling, high-speed AquaTubes. Passengers experience plenty of thrills as they twist and turn their way to the slides’ splashdown finale in the pool below.

Bicycle-Friendly Places In The Great Smoky Mountains

If you’re like the late great Freddie Mercury and just want to ride your bi-cy-cle, you might want to consider bringing your favorite two-wheeler along with you on your next trip to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Biking is a fantastic way to see the sights of the Smokies while also enjoying the fresh air and immersing yourself in the beauty of our region. Like walking does, bicycling allows you to see things you might not otherwise notice behind the wheel of a car.

This week, we’d like to share a few ideas for places you can ride that are safe and, depending on when you visit, free of auto traffic.

Cades Cove – This once-thriving community inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park stands today as a preserved slice of life from the turn of the 20th century. The 11-mile one-way auto loop is closed to car traffic until 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays from early May to late September, so you can travel at your own pace without having to keep an eye on those pesky four-wheeled vehicles.

Along the way, you’ll encounter vast, rolling meadows, majestic mountains, hiking trails, deer and other wildlife, and preserved structures from yesteryear such as churches and homesteads. If you visit later in the day, you can pack a picnic meal and pull over to enjoy the peace and quiet of the cove in the location of your choosing.

If you don’t want to travel with your own bicycles, you can rent bikes by the hour from a vendor located at the Cades Cove Picnic Area store. You can also stock up on snacks, drinks and other provisions at the store before beginning your journey.

Townsend Greenway – Not far from Cades Cove, you’ll find the peaceful mountain town of Townsend, which features a greenway that runs the entire length of the town (five miles) on both sides of the highway. So you actually have nearly a 10-mile route to explore. The greenway ranges from flat and level to robustly rolling, but it’s all easily manageable by bicycle.

The path takes you along a wide selection of shops, restaurants and attractions, including the Little River Railroad Museum and the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, both of which are heavily steeped in the history of the region, from Native American inhabitants to white settlers to the Little River Lumber Company and the formation of the national park. Also note that Townsend is only about a 10-minute drive from Wears Valley, Tennessee, where most of our cabins in the Smoky Mountains located.

Sevierville Memorial River Greenway – This riverside park features a two-mile trail that runs alongside the banks of the Little Pigeon River. It features beautiful landscaping and connects with Paine Memorial Park, which features picnic tables and a gazebo. Numerous benches line the trail, and those who travel it can enjoy views of migratory birds and other waterfowl. The trail connects to Sevierville City Park, which has its own half-mile-long trail that runs along the park perimeter.

Pigeon Forge Riverwalk Greenway – With entrances at Patriot Park, Butler Street (at Ashley) and Jake Thomas Road, Pigeon Forge’s Riverwalk Greenway is a beautiful two-mile route to walk, run or ride your bike

Web Cams Offer Sneak Previews Of What’s Going On In The Smokies

Most of us would probably like to be spending some vacation time in the Great Smoky Mountains this spring or summer. Or this week, for that matter. And many of you may already be planning such a trip. But regardless of whether you actually visit the Smokies this year or not, you can still experience some of what the area has to offer without leaving your home or office. (Although if you’re at work, save this for your break time. Don’t be a slacker.) How? Via webcam. April the giraffe sure has gotten a lot of viewers lately, and you can take advantage of that same technology in the Smokies.

Several area businesses and locations in the Smokies have webcams that will give you a live view of whatever is going on at that location at any given time. So if you’re longing to see what’s going on in the mountains today, or if you’re gathering information for a future stay in one of our Tennessee cabin rentals, or if you’re just checking out the weather conditions, webcams are a useful (and fun) tool for exploring our area from a long distance away.

Here are just a few recommendations for local webcams you might want to look into.

• Live Penguin Cam – That’s right; this link will let you watch the penguins at play at the Penguin Playhouse exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. If you visit in person, you can crawl through tunnels in their indoor-outdoor habitat and see their antics above and below the surface of the water. You can even pet the penguins or purchase one of their paintings. Until then, watch them here: https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg/penguin-cam/

• Gatlinburg Space Needle Webcam – This camera is mounted on one of the most iconic attractions in Gatlinburg, the towering Space Needle on the Parkway. It allows you to take in great aerial views of the city’s downtown area as well as nearby resorts and the national park. Check it out here: http://www.gatlinburgspaceneedle.com/webcam/

• Ober Gatlinburg Webcam – With this camera, you can see what’s going on at the area’s only ski resort. It’s a high-resolution camera mounted at 407 feet in the air, so you can see much of the resort as well as bird’s-eye views of downtown Gatlinburg. With temperatures dropping this weekend, you might get to view one final good weekend of snow activity up at Ober. Here’s the link: http://obergatlinburg.com/webcam/

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park Webcam – This camera is mounted at the Look Rock observation tower, just off Foothills Parkway in Blount County. The Parkway is an easy, beautiful drive with multiple pullover parking areas with scenic outlooks that open up the landscape for dozens of miles. At the Look Rock parking area, you can either hike a half-mile up to the observation tower or enjoy the views from the observation deck just off the parking lot. In the meantime, here’s the webcam:

https://www.nature.nps.gov/air/Webcams/parks/grsmcam/grsmcam.cfm

Get Fired Up For Spring With Some Smoky Mountain Barbecue

Some foods and drinks just go with certain seasons. Hot cider and eggnog are winter beverages, and nothing says fall like a holiday turkey. So what’s the quintessential food of summertime? If you’ve ever spent much time in the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll know that the answer is barbecue, and next time you come to the Smokies for a visit, you definitely need to make a point of sampling some for yourself.

If you’re not from the South, you may think that barbecue is barbecue. However, not all barbecue is created equal or made the same. First of all, there’s not just smoked pork but also smoked brisket, ribs, chicken and more. You can even barbecue vegetables. And once it’s cooked, are you going to drown that shredded meat in a ketchup-based sauce or a vinegar-based sauce?

The good news is that we’ve got some great barbecue places that collectively will cover most of those bases. So maybe just visiting one won’t be enough. Maybe after we introduce you to some of the big barbecue names around here, you’ll want to create your own barbecue tour of the Smokies. Or take some back to enjoy while staying in one of our Timbercreek cabins.

Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ

Located in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community in Gatlinburg, this highly rated barbecue stand was rated by voters on Yelp as one of the top 100 places you need to eat in THE COUNTRY in 2017. If that’s not enough to entice you, we’re not sure what is.

Tony Gore’s Smoky Mountain BBQ & Grill

You might notice this barbecue set-up just off Tenn. Hwy. 66 (Winfield Dunn Pkwy.) when you’re traveling from Interstate 40 toward Sevierville. We’ve eaten there before and can attest to the fact that the products that come off Tony’s smoker are the real deal, from pulled pork to beef brisket. Also look for catfish plates, fried chicken and loaded tater chips.

Hungry Bear BBQ

This Gatlinburg eatery’s two locations are small, but the flavors are big, with a menu that includes sandwiches, dinners, sides and more. It’s a relaxed setting but also a good place to grab some ‘cue to go on your way to a picnic in the national park.

Boss Hoggs BBQ Shack

You’ll find this eatery on Wears Valley Rd. in Pigeon Forge, and it’s a good place to score barbecue plates featuring ribs, chicken, pork, brisket and smoked sausage. Sides include cole slaw, green beans, baked beans and potato salad.

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

This local product has been around about as long as any barbecue joint in town. Located in downtown Gatlinburg, it offers a full menu that has a reputation for pleasing palates.

Also look for national chains like Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, which is a full-service eatery, and Buddy’s Bar-B-Q, which is a popular fast-food stop.

Get To Know Wears Valley, Tennessee

Last week, we passed along some useful information about one of our neighboring communities, Townsend, Tennessee. But this week, we’re going to keep things really close to home by doing some exploring just outside our own front door. Our Timbercreek offices and most of our rental properties are located in the charming Smoky Mountain hamlet of Wears Valley, and we think it’s worth talking about. It doesn’t take long to drive through our town, but there’s a lot more here than meets the eye.

Let’s start with what does meet the eye, and the most prominent feature is Cove Mountain, which looms tall over the town, providing an inspiring background to our peaceful rolling valley. Standing at 4,078 feet in elevation, it’s one of several mountains that form the framework for Wear Cove, the geological valley in which the community of Wears Valley is located. Many of our properties are located on or near Cove Mountain itself, so anyone headed to East Tennessee in search of luxury cabins, Smoky Mountains views and scenic pastureland will find this to be an ideal location.

The area was named after Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Wear, although it was originally named Crowson Cove in honor of Aaron Crowson, the area’s first settler in 1792. The name didn’t change to Wear Cove until around 1900.

Wears Valley is known geologically as a limestone window, which means older layers of Precambrian sandstone have worn away to reveal younger levels of Paleozoic limestone. The exposed limestone resulted in fertile soil, which is one of the factors that originally drew early settlers to the area. Also, Wears Valley was the site of several skirmishes with native Cherokee residents around the time of the Civil War, despite East Tennessee’s attempts to remain neutral in the conflict.

One of the things our visitors love so much about the town is that it offers so much pristine beauty but is still only about a 10-minute drive from Pigeon Forge, where there are more attractions, shops and restaurants than you could shake a stick at. The town also offers an often-overlooked entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Line Springs Road (or you might see it called Lyon Springs Road). From the main highway, U.S. 321, Line Springs will take you to the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area of the park in about five minutes. From there, you’re a short drive from Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the national park.

While Wears Valley itself isn’t nearly as developed as Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg (and we like it that way), we do offer several attractions, restaurants and shops for those who want to enjoy those features without venturing too far from their cabins. Some of the things you can do around here include ziplining, horseback riding, hiking and fishing.

Visit Townsend, Tennessee, For A Change Of Pace

More than 10 million people come to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee each year. During peak seasons like summer and October, that’s a lot of folks making their through, in and around the communities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. For many vacationers, it’s the recipe for a vibrant, fun-filled adventure in the Smokies.

Others, however, prefer their Smoky Mountain experience to be a little more laid-back, and for those folks, we’d like to recommend spending a day or more in Townsend, Tennessee, which is only about a 15-minute drive from Timbercreek Cabins on U.S. Hwy. 321.

Once you’re there, you’ll immediately notice how the pace is a little slower, and there’s not quite the density of development you’ll find in the other towns. But you’ll still discover a lot to do in Townsend, and this week, we’ll share a few of the highlights you might want to investigate for yourself.

  1. Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

Learn all about the history of the region – from the first native inhabitants to the formation of the national park – at this interactive museum. The self-guided tour has authentic relics and hands-on displays that make area history come alive. The indoor tour is complemented by authentic outdoor exhibits like mills, barns and homesteads.

  1. Inner Tubing

Once spring and summer roll around, you’ll be able to partake in a long-standing Townsend tradition – inner tubing in the Little River. There’s no better way to beat the heat of a summer day than lying back in an inner tube and floating lazily down the river. Several vendors in town will set you up with a tour, including Smoky Mountain River Rat and River Rage.

  1. Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum

This roadside attraction tells the story of how the lumber and railroad industries transformed Townsend from a sleepy mountain village to a vibrant center of commerce in the early 1900s, prior to the formation of the national park. The indoor exhibits convey much of the information, but you can also see restored train components outside the main building. It’s free, but donations are encouraged.

  1. Tuckaleechee Caverns

For decades, this attraction has been drawing people to the Smokies with its underground cavern tour. It’s a steady 57 degrees inside all year long, and guests get to see a host of fascinating rock formations along the way as they also learn about Smokies history.

  1. The Townsend Greenway

You may not notice it from the main road through town, but there’s a paved greenway trail that runs the entire length of the city on both sides of the highway. In all, the trail runs almost 10 miles, and is a great way for bicyclists and runners to see the sights of town and perhaps stop at a shop or restaurant along the way.

  1. Outdoor Adventure

You’ll find several outfitters in town who are geared to take guests on a variety of fun outdoor excursions like horseback riding, ziplining, fly fishing, ATV rides and more. Look for businesses like Next to Heaven Adventures, Mountain Trax UTV Rentals and Davy Crockett Riding Stables, to mention just a few.

Timbercreek Cabins and Valentine’s Day – A Match Made In Heaven!

Everything slows down just a little here in the Smokies this time of year. It’s all part of the winter lull we’ve come to expect. However, this next week, we’ll be seeing a temporary surge in visitation that coincides with Valentine’s Day, especially here at Timbercreek Cabins Gatlinburg.

While we have a lot of bookings for this special week, we still have some properties available for overnight rental. That means it may not be too late for you to make a reservation today and book a few nights here in the Smokies with your significant other. We can’t think of any better way – or location – to create lasting Valentine’s Day memories for both of you.

In many ways, an overnight rental is a self-contained Valentine’s Day experience. Even if you just get a one-bedroom property, the amenities our cabins offer can add so much to any romantic getaway. You can enjoy the soothing heat and bubbles of an outdoor hot tub, no matter how chilly the evening may get, or you can soak in the relaxation of a whirlpool tub in your master bathroom. And if it gets cold enough, you can start a fire in the gas or log fireplace and cozy up in front of the heat and the dancing flames.

Many of our properties are in secluded rural areas and offer lots of privacy. You’ll generally enjoy quiet locations, often with stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains or perhaps a peaceful valley setting. Imagine watching the sunset from your porch or balcony or enjoying the beauty of a Smoky Mountain sunrise (depending on the location of your cabin).

You could have a great Valentine’s Day getaway without ever leaving the property, but if you choose to do so, your options are virtually endless. For entertainment, you could go see a live production show at one of the area’s many music theaters, or you could go hear a live band at a local nightspot or just go see a movie at one of the new state-of-the-art movie theater complexes in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville.

During the day, you could visit a world-class attraction like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies or the Titanic Museum Attraction, or if the weather is suitable, you could spend an entire day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take a hike or take a drive; either way, the scenery is gorgeous, even in winter, when the deciduous trees are bare.

If nothing else, you could both go out and enjoy a romantic dinner on the town. Gatlinburg has several romantic eateries, like The Peddler steakhouse, The Melting Pot (fondue) and Greenbrier Restaurant – a purely local product that has delicious cuisine and borders the national park.

Guided Tours Offer A Personal Way To Experience The Smokies

When most folks visit the Smokies, they usually serve as their own guides, visiting all kinds of attractions and other points of interest but usually relying only on their own eyes and ears to interpret and enjoy the destination or activity. However, guided tours are an often-overlooked means of experiencing the Smokies, giving guests unique insights and behind-the-scenes explorations of some of the area’s most interesting places and sites.

Read on to discover just a sampling of activities you might want to try. There may be a few on this list you weren’t even aware existed. So next time you visit Timbercreek Cabins Pigeon Forge, you’ll certainly have a fun and exciting new adventure waiting for you.

A Walk In The Woods

Based in Gatlinburg, this business claims to be the oldest guide service in the Smokies and is the recipient of the coveted REI Top Guide Award. That makes them the only guide service east of the Rockies to receive that honor. Their guides take guests on excursions into Great Smoky Mountains National Park – from driving tours and easy walks to challenging backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail. The guides are professionally trained naturalists, historians, storytellers and all-around educators. They can plan your trip, rent your gear, provide shuttle service and help you safely explore the natural world around you.

Segway Rentals And Sales Of Pigeon Forge

If you’ve never ridden a Segway vehicle, you’re missing out. It’s super-fun, fairly easy to pick up on and it offers a unique way to experience the sights and sounds of Pigeon Forge. This tour service guides you through the town with ease as you pass sights like the Old Mill, The Island, the Greenway and the Parkway. It’s easier than driving and way more fun than walking. Your hour-and-a-half rental experience will help you develop your skills and learn a lot about the area along the way.

Smoky Mountain Llama Treks

Located in rural Sevier County, outside Sevierville, this tour takes guests on a scenic and friendly Smoky Mountain trail walk accompanied by experienced guides and friendly pack llamas that provide assistance along the way. They carry water, food, tables and chairs so guests can spend their time focusing on enjoying peaceful fields and babbling brooks as they hike to the top of a picturesque mountain peak. Be sure to bring a camera to capture all the views and the distant mountain vistas.

Taking Better Photos

Speaking of cameras, this highly rated class teaches beginner and advanced photography classes at major resorts. They also provide driving and walking tours so students can practice what they’ve learned while enjoying the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Special Events Are A Great Way To Play In The Smokies

Do you know why millions of people make their way to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee each year? For starters, we’ve got the mountains themselves – impressive and awe-inspiring – and a national park in which to enjoy their beauty. We’ve also got attractions, shops galore and restaurants for all tastes and budgets. And fortunately, we’ve got plenty of room to accommodate all those millions of people, including our gorgeous, scenic cabins in Wears Valley, TN.

If that weren’t enough, visitors also can participate in the dozens and dozens of special events and happenings that take place in the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville each year. And just because the Smokies is in the middle of the so-called “off” season doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do around here now.

So this week, we thought we’d pass along a few recommendations for cool special events that are taking place all around the area. Many are free, and we think you’ll agree, there’s something for everyone.

Smoky Mountain Snowdown
January 26 – 29
Townsend Visitors Center, Townsend

The Snowdown festival features Appalachian music events, including live performances, as well as activities like dulcimer classes, banjo picking, cast-iron cooking classes, Sunday church breakfast, a chili cook-off and chocolate making – just a sampling of the many things going on this weekend. Also look for authentic regional food and beverages as well as textile arts galleries, quilting demonstrations, fly-fishing demonstrations and more.

Smoky Mountain Square Dance
January 27 – 29
Music Road Resort Hotel, Pigeon Forge

Also known as Smoky Mountain Celebration, this three-day event allows guests to experience the excitement and fun of square dancing, as taught and led by two experts. The price includes five dance sessions, two nights lodging, an after-party and all the amenities of the resort. Dancers will be divided into three groups, based on experience.

Tennessee Winter Special Olympics
January 29 – 31
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, Gatlinburg

One of the premier winter events in our area, this competition is a great opportunity to cheer on the state’s Special Olympics athletes as they compete for medals in events like snow skiing, ice skating and snow boarding.

In addition to these date-specific happenings, don’t forget that you still have until January 28 to see all the Winterfest Lights in Gatlinburg on one of their special Winter Magic Trolley Ride Of Lights tours. Departing from downtown, these heated trolleys take guests all over town to see highlights of Gatlinburg’s dozens of animated light displays and millions of individual lights. The cost is $5 per person, and trolleys depart nightly from the downtown trolley station at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.

But that doesn’t mean the Winterfest lights are going away on January 28. You’ll still see those all over town in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville through February 28.

Hollywood In The Smokies

If you’ve ever been to the Great Smoky Mountains, or if you’re thinking about visiting some time this year, one of the main reasons for your trip probably has something to do with the mountains, the beauty and the unique character of the area. You’re not the only one who feels that attraction. Over the years, Hollywood has found this area irresistible as well, to the extent that a number of motion pictures and television shows have been shot on location in our many scenic locales. It’s really the only way to capture imagery that you just can’t re-create on a studio soundstage.

This week, we thought we’d pass along a few tidbits about some notable films and TV shows that have been shot in this area within the last 20 years or so. So next time you watch those programs, you can look to see if you can spot any recognizable sights. And next time you come to the area and stay in one of our cabins in Pigeon Forge, TN, you can look around and maybe see some of the same locations that were used in these productions.

Films

A number of major motion pictures have been shot in the Smokies, Knoxville and other parts of East Tennessee. That Evening Sun, starring Hal Holbrook, was a critical hit just a few years ago and was produced by a Knoxville-based company. And most of us are probably familiar with the hit film October Sky, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, much of which was shot near Coalwood, TN. Other notable film titles produced in East Tennessee include The Evil Dead, Box of Moonlight, Road Trip and The Dollmaker.

In addition to these widely distributed studio and independent films, there have been a number of smaller-scale indy films that have been shot and produced around here. These titles may not have the name recognition as some of the bigger productions, but they still enjoy worldwide distribution, and they’re proof that there’s plenty of writing, acting and producing talent right here in the Smokies. When you’re online some time, check out films like Something/Anything, Bandit & The Saints Of Dogwood, Amateurs, Boys Of Summerville, Bell Witch The Movie, Prison Break-In and The Little Ponderosa Zoo.

Television

The most notable television series to be produced in the Smokies was the TV hit Christy, which aired on CBS in the mid-1990s. Starring Kellie Martin, the series followed the story of 17-year-old school teacher Christy Huddleston, who set out from her hometown Asheville, NC, to teach at a mission schoolhouse in a rural Appalachian community. Most of the exterior scenes were shot in and around Townsend, TN.