Capturing Your Wedding in the Smoky Mountains

Just married couple kissing with pink flower petalsWhile the Smoky Mountains offer a beautiful backdrop to your special day, finding a wedding photographer in the Smoky Mountains to capture all its nuances might seem daunting at first. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer for your  wedding in the Smoky Mountains.
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Let Gatlinburg Visitor Center Help You Relax

View of downtown GatlinburgIf you have ever been to the Gatlinburg Visitor Center you will be greeted with a completely remodeled area when you return.  If you have not had a chance to visit before you will easily find the visitor center on the main Parkway of Gatlinburg located at the intersection of US 321 and US 441, just across from a public parking garage, it is a perfect place to start a walking exploration of the city.

The landscape surrounding the Gatlinburg Visitor Center has been redesigned to be transformed into a park like setting maximizing the outdoor space to give visitors a place to relax and unwind as they learn about the area and plan the remainder of their day or trip.  An expanded sitting area and pavilion has been updated to offer a charging station for your electronics as you sit back to relax and take in the beautiful setting.  With four waterfalls being added to the landscape you will be able to unwind as you take a break and listen to the soothing sound.  Located on the east side of the building a new interpretive mountain area offers an educational element for adults interested in seeing the layout of the mountains with the names of many mountain peaks found in the Smoky Mountains.  Children will stay entertained with the interactive features such as musical instruments located near the riverbed with a splashing brook flowing at the base of the interruptive mountain.

The building of the Gatlinburg Visitor Center will be more open to create a better flow and visibility.  The entire project is just a short time frame away from its expected completion date of July 22, 2013.

As you would expect with any visitor center you will find the normal amenities expected as well as the outdoor park like setting.  A perfect stop area for a break to know that there will be clean public restrooms and information on the area with maps and discount books.

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Campground Regulations of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Person camping in nature at sunsetThere is little better to heighten an outdoor adventure than to utilize one of the campgrounds at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park’s 10 developed campgrounds accommodate tents, RVs or fifth wheel vehicles. However, if you are going to stay at a Great Smoky Mountains campground this summer, be sure to know the rules and regulations that govern the campsites and provide visitors with the best outdoor experience.

Storing Food — The campgrounds have strict rules regarding food, starting with where you keep it. Keep food related items, including cookware, inside either your locked car or a solid structure (RV or fifth wheel) when not in use. Bears and other wildlife are attracted to the smell of food. If you do not have a solid storage space, food lockers are available at Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds.

Reserve & Register — Because the Great Smoky Mountains campgrounds are very popular places, some have strict reservation policies. Cataloochee Campground, for example, is reservation only. Campsites at Cades Cove, Cosby, Elkmont and Smokemont are available by reservation. All other sites are first come-first serve. However, ALL campers must register their site upon arrival and pay the camping fee at either the pay station or campground office.

Maximum Capacities — At all park campgrounds, there is a maximum stay of 14 consecutive days. Anyone who wants to stay longer will have to change campgrounds. Also, there is a maximum of six persons per campsite, unless you are staying in a group camping area. Finally, only two motor vehicles are permitted per campsite, or one vehicle and a trailer. All vehicles and trailers must be parked on the pavement and all tents must be pitched on the pads provided at each campsite.

Fires & Firewood — Great Smoky Mountains has strict fire policies in place. It is allowable to collect firewood around your campsite but only if it is laying on the ground or is dead wood. Firewood cannot be brought into the park from surrounding counties if there is a state or federal firewood quarantine in place for that county. All campfires must be created and kept within the provided fire grills. Fireworks are not allowed inside the national park, including campgrounds.

Pet & Quiet — Furry family friends are allowed inside park campgrounds but they must all must be kept on a leash. Campers are asked to keep pet noise to a minimum and keep them off of local trails. It is also illegal to leave pets alone at your campsite. Quiet hours are 10pm to 6am in all campgrounds, and generators cannot be used between 8pm and 8am. Only registered campers have access to the campgrounds after 10pm.

Water of All Types — Waste water must be let out at utility sinks or the dump stations. Sewage must be dumped at the appropriate stations as well. Campers are prohibited from bathing in streams or fountains. Alcohol is permitted inside park campgrounds and picnic areas for those 21 and over.

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Experience The Great Smoky Mountains In Traditional Style From A Cabin

Ray of sunlight shining down on the Smoky Mountains at dawnImagine viewing majestic displays of The Great Smoky Mountains while cuddling on the couch in your pajamas before a roaring fire, or sipping hot cocoa on a rustic porch in the cool of evening surrounded by wooded serenity. When renting a cabin in the Smokies for your next getaway, these scenarios are a part of your trip.
Cabins allow your lodging to be an integral part of your experience. Most cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains are equipped with fully functional kitchens, hot tubs and rustic charm not available anywhere else. Many cabin rental companies know the importance guests place on all the luxuries of home, and cabins featuring granite counter tops, updated furnishings and decor, as well as comfortable bedding and other amenities can easily be found.

With so many things to do and see in the Great Smoky Mountains, a well located cabin offers seclusion hotels and motels do not, while keeping you close to the heartbeat of fun and activities. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are two nearby cities that offer tons of amusements, dinner shows, restaurants and shopping.

 
Cabins give you the opportunity to make your mountain vacation as action packed or as relaxed as you would like. Some days you may want to spend hiking, horseback riding and picnicking. Other days you may want to sleep in, shop a little and enjoy grilling steaks and taking a dip in the hot tub. All this is possible with the right cabin rental.
Not only are cabins a definite upgrade for most trips, many polished cabin rentals are surprisingly quite affordable. Especially if the whole family is coming. Instead of renting multiple hotel rooms, everyone can pool together and get the most for their money with a large and luxurious cabin rental. Consider booking a cabin for your next trip to The Great Smoky Mountains and you will not be disappointed.

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The Smoky Mountains Area Convention Center Options

View of Smoky Mountains at sunsetThe area surrounding The Great Smoky Mountain National Park  is the ideal location for conventions, business meetings, and expositions. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville not only provide some excellent convention centers for such functions, but they also provide plenty of lodging, food, and attractions for guests. Nothing compares to staying in one of the local log cabins, with their breathtaking views of the mountains. When not at their event, guests can enjoy a dinner show, outdoor adventure, or visit the area’s unique shops.

Gatlinburg has two amazing convention centers. The River Terrace Resort and Convention Center is perfect for board meetings, corporate retreats, conferences, and reunions. Surrounded by spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, this facility has 20,000 square feet of meeting space with onsite catering. Able to accommodate 10 to 1,000 people, Bose state of the art sound systems, visual needs, and high speed wireless internet access are provided. The Gatlinburg Convention Center is another great option for meetings. The 148,000 square feet can hold up to 350 booths and 6,000 people. Located down town, it is within walking distance of local lodging, restaurants, and attractions. The staff is ready to help with all of the details, along with the kitchen that can provide food for 10 to 7,000.

The Pigeon Forge Convention Center at 3171 Parkway can accommodate groups of up to 7,000 guests. The 60,000 square feet of open floor space can be broke down into several smaller break out rooms. Theatrical lighting, a recording studio, and a concert sound system are just a few of the perks offered here.

The Sevierville Convention Center is conveniently located on Route 66 along the main entrance to the Great Smoky National Park. The 108,245 square feet of exhibit halls are perfect for expositions, trade shows, retreats, and art events. The area can be split into two separate meeting spaces. In addition, one will find 19,290 square feet of ballroom that can be broke into four separate rooms. The two meeting rooms can be combined into one large 1,022 square foot space.

No matter what size group you are planning your event for; the Smoky Mountains area has something to fit your needs. All are provided against a beautiful backdrop with all the amenities your guest will need.

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Campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains

Person camping in nature at sunsetThe Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities with a backdrop of spectacular views. The Great Smoky National Park draws vacationing families from around the country. Camping is a popular activity in the area. Campers will find a range of amenities and campground options to suit their needs.

Gatlinburg Camping
Many people who come to Gatlinburg utilize the campgrounds that are directly in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The park offers a number of frontcountry sites that you can drive to, with picnic tables, fire grate, flush toilets and restrooms. No electrical hookups are available. Most accommodate RVs. For those who require a full range of amenities with their camping experience, the Adventure Bound Camping Resort in Gatlinburg offers a 500-foot waterslide, pool, kiddie pool, general store, fishing lake, basketball court, billiard room and wifi.

Pigeon Forge Camping
Pigeon Forge is a small mountain community five miles north of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The Clabough Campground has 310 full hook-up sites with concrete patios and picnic tables on shaded lots. The campground has 2 swimming pools, 4 bathhouses, grocery store, laundry facilities, restaurant, game room and wifi. Riveredge RV Resort offers campers a swimming pool, hot tub, arcade, 5-star bathhouse and wifi. The resort also has cabins for reservation.

Sevierville Camping
Up the Creek RV Camp provides campers a smaller, more private setting with plenty of trees between sites and just five minutes from town. The babbling creek offers a good background for relaxing and enjoying the scenery. They also have a dog park and can accommodate large RVs. However, no restrooms or bathhouses are on the site. Ripplin’ Waters Campground and Cabin Rentals offers 156 sites with full hook-up, bathhouses, hot showers, swimming pool, laundry facilities, church services, camp store and playground. Fifty sites are on the Little Pigeon River. Fishing is also available with permit.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is nearby to each of these locations providing trails and streams for hiking, exploring and fishing in a natural environment.  Cades Cove also offers many trails for hiking, wildlife viewing, and taking a look back into the history of the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Waterfalls In The Great Smoky Mountains

Laurel Falls in Smoky MountainsThe Great Smoky Mountains have long been a favorite vacation spot for visitors who enjoy outdoor adventures. People come to the area to walk one of the literally hundreds of trails that can be found here and take in the beauty of the site. One of the main things that outdoor enthusiasts look forward to viewing on these trips are the waterfalls. Three of the best waterfalls to visit while vacationing in the Gatlinburg and Cades Cover, TN area of the Great Smoky Mountains are Abrams Falls, Laurel Falls and Grotto Falls.

One of the best waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains is Abrams Falls. Abrams Falls, in Cades Cove, is located on a breathtaking five mile hiking trail. This trail is not for beginners, but it is well worth the trip for visitors looking to catch a glimpse of Abrams Falls 20 foot fall and deep pool.

Another fabulous fall in the Great Smoky Mountains is Laurel Falls. This fall is wonderful for families as it is on a paved trail that is easily accessible for both wheelchairs and strollers. Laurel Falls is conveniently located within minutes of Gatlinburg and showcases a breathtaking 80 foot cascade. These falls are very popular with travelers, so it is recommended that people try to come out early to miss the crowds.

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of great falls to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains is Grotto Falls. The Grotto Falls are unique in that visitors can actually stand behind the falls and get the experience of the water seeming to crash right in front of them. Grotto Falls is a quick drive from Gatlinburg and is located off the very popular Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Regardless of which one of these stunning falls the visitor decides to take in, some precautions are in order to make sure the trip is a success. Hikers will want to make sure they are wearing extremely comfortable walking shoes before heading out. In addition, travelers will want to pack things like extra clothes in case they get wet on the trails and a map to make navigating easier. It is also important to bring food and water just in case the trip takes longer then planned. Taking these things in to consideration will guarantee that the visitor has a fun and safe time visiting the Great Smoky Mountains beautiful waterfalls.

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Taking A Picnic In The Great Smoky Mountains

Taking A Picnic In The Great Smoky MountainsWhether it’s for a romantic date, family outing or an outdoor adventure with friends, picnics in the Great Smoky Mountains can be memorable events if proper prior planning has taken place. The Great Smoky Mountains provide many excellent picnic spots, with one of the most enthralling being the Cades Cove region. Cades Cove covers over 6,500 square miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and features a variety of outdoor activities in some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. The 11-mile loop that circles the valley has many ideal spots for those wanting to enjoy picnics in the open air. The loop can be traveled by foot, bicycle, hay-wagon, horseback or private vehicle, ensuring access to all.

Packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains should naturally involve the types of food that taste the best when eaten out-of-doors. There’s a reason why cold fried chicken is such a picnic classic. A picnic hamper full of chicken, macaroni salad, rolls baked from scratch and cold lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to a walk or a ride along the Cades Cove loop.  Or some bread, cheese, chocolate, and wine after enjoying a sampling together at a local winery and selecting favorites together.

Those who choose to drive to their picnic destination along the loop should keep in mind that the speed limit is 20 mph and should also be advised to keep watch for hikers, riders and others along the trail. The Sugarlands Visitors’ Center offers a guidebook of the loop trail to those visiting the area. Guided programs are available during the summer months through October. Those who plan to drive the loop trail during peak season should schedule plenty of time because driving time can be longer than three hours.

Abundant wildlife exists in the Great Smoky Mountains, including those purveyors of picnic baskets, black bears. Visitors should under no circumstances share the contents of their picnic baskets with bears, and all scraps of food should be thoroughly removed from the area after the meal is finished. Bears who become too used to thinking of human picnics as sources of snacks run the risk of being destroyed by authorities should they attempt to become too friendly with picnickers.

Because mountain weather can be changeable no matter what time of year, picnickers are advised to pack one lightweight, water-proof jacket each before setting out to enjoy their outdoor repast.

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Smoky Mountains Winter Activities

Smoky Mountains Winter Activities

Winterfest in The Smoky Mountains is full of excitement and things to do for all ages. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of Winterfest activities, an annual celebration that spanning the entire winter season. Join in on all of the fun and Smoky Mountains winter activities as the popular resort towns transform into one gigantic winter wonderland with special events in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, Tennessee. Continue reading

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Beating the Summer Heat

By Greg Ward

Five straight
days of 90 degree temperatures this past May has made for an early summer.
Summers in Sevier County mean parades, fireworks, bullfrogs, crickets, and the
occasional overheated car stuck in traffic on Hwy 66. Tourists trying to beat
the heat have made Dollywood’s Splash Country the nation’s most visited water
park.

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