4 Major Bear Safety Tips

The Tennessee Smokies are filled with curious creatures, but are notoriously known for their population of black bears. In fact, many people perch themselves in the perfect spots to get a view of the glorious species. Although our black bears are rarely aggressive and there has been a low number of reported human injuries associated with them, it is important to follow outdoor safety tips that will help you stay safe and avoid encounters with a bear.

Always Carry Bear Spray

This tip is pretty universal. You should always have bear spray accessible, as it is the number one way to effectively deter a bear that may threaten you. You also need to make sure that you know how to properly use it. It should only be used in the case of emergencies, so be sure to never spray it yourself, your belongings or your campsite.

2. Camping Tips

If you plan to camp in the smokies, there are definitely many precautions you need to take. For starters, make sure that you never leave food, trash, toiletries or clothes that you wore when cooking in your tent, as all of the following can attract a bear or other wildlife. You can store these things in a locked vehicle, bear-resistant containers or suspended 10ft above ground and away from any part of the tree. Make sure you always cook downwind and far away from your tent, that you never burn food scraps or trash and maintain a clean camp overall.

3. Hiking Tips

Do your best to not hike alone and always be aware of your surroundings. This is easier said than done, but it is a must. Common distractions can be cell phones and/or music. Keep children near and keep any dogs or pets leashed at all times. Another not-so-well-known tip would be to make noise as you hike. Bears are less likely to come around noise.

4. Hunting and/or Fishing Tips

You are more likely to encounter a bear when hunting since you are quiet and sneaky, traveling either in early or evening hours. Bears are more active during this time, so it important to consider the tips mentioned above, like making noise, properly storing food/trash, carrying bear spray, staying aware, etc. If a bear happens to make it to your catch/kill before you do, let them have it. Trying to reclaim it will aggravate the bear and can put you in severe danger.


… It’s not impossible and your chances are more likely than you’d think. If you see a bear and it doesn’t see you yet, do NOT approach it. Quietly back away slowly. Same thing goes for if a bear notices you. Now if a bear starts to approach you, it is important that you stay with your group, hold your ground and have your bear spray ready to use. Yell at the bear and if it continues to approach you, utilize your spray. Although it is unlikely, if a black bear makes contact with you, fight back aggressively and never ever play dead.

For more information on black bears, visit bearwise.org.

6 Smokin’ Things to Do in the Tennessee Smokies This Fall

Must-Do Activities in the Tennessee Smokies This Fall

By Kelsey Thomas

The beginning of fall is such an exciting time in the Tennessee Smokies. The beauty of the leaves changing and the perfect weather makes for a perfect photo-opportunistic, nature-driven vacation. Whether you’re looking for exciting festivals to attend or would rather lay low and enjoy a relaxing hike in one of the nation’s most gorgeous national parks, you’ll never run out of things to do in the magnificent Tennessee Smoky Mountains. Here are our top 6 picks of events and activities to experience from now until the end of fall.

View Wildlife at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to view wildlife in the Tennessee Smokies. Some animals you may be able to see include white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, turkeys, woodchucks and many other animals. They have two open areas, Cataloochee and Cades Cove, that are perfect for wildlife viewing.

great smoky mountains during fall season
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sept. 24 – Oct. 30, 2021: Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

Dollywood, a popular theme park joint owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, is located in the Knoxville-Smoky Mountains metroplex in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Every fall, the park transforms into a magical experience filled with playful days and illuminated nights. The festival features various live performances, as well as artisans and craftsmen that can demonstrate and sell their crafts.

Sept 24. – Oct. 31, 2021: Ober’s 12th Annual OktOBERrfest

This annual October event, held at Ober Ski Mountain in Gatlinburg, celebrates the traditions of the original OktOBERfest in Munich, Germany. Featured will be daily shows, updated food menus and even an outdoor bier garden! Try different brews with a $20 beer card or enjoy a delicious salted pretzel while listening to live music.

keg at Oktoberfest
Ober’s OktOBERfest

Go Leaf Peeping in Gatlinburg

The Smoky Mountains are known for their breathtaking array of colors that are painted throughout the mountains during the fall season. Any time between late September to late October is the best time to see this colorful phenomenon. Refer to the Gatlinburg Fall Foliage Report to know exactly what type of fall colors to expect and when.

Oct. 10, 2021: 5th Annual Chalkfest at the Island of Pigeon Forge

Calling all artists, professional or aspiring! This themed chalk drawing competition is a fun way to tune into your artistic side in the Smokies. Artists may bring their own chalk or use the chalk provided at the event. Awards will be presented for multiple prize categories at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Stage.

girl drawing with chalk
Chalkfest at the Island of Pigeon Forge

Find the Photogenic Spots

You are going to want to take a picture of everything you see in the Smokies. From the various waterfalls, like Abrams Falls or Rainbow Falls, to lookout spots like Chimney Tops or Newfound Gap, you are destined to capture some stunning images. You could even make a trip itinerary of all the places you wish to photograph.

“You’ll laugh ’til you die!” at The Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show!

Our one of a kind theater offers comedy murder mystery shows with a delicious three-course meal.

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Gatlinburg 75th Anniversary

Gatlinburg Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

Gatlinburg is an ideal destination in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains for all types of travelers. This year, in 2020, the city of Gatlinburg will honor its 75th anniversary with a year-long celebration.

Click here to read more about things to do in Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg 75th Anniversary

According to a press release, Gatlinburg’s 75th anniversary will capture and share the true heritage of “America’s preeminent mountain home.” Throughout the year, Gatlinburg will share the stories of its history – from dirt road to one of America’s most-visited mountain towns. Since 1945, millions of people have visited Gatlinburg. The city will celebrate these guests, of all ages and backgrounds, during the 75th anniversary.

75th Anniversary Celebration of the City of Gatlinburg (1945-2020)

Visit Gatlinburg.com/75th for more information.

Sugarlands Distilling Best Craft Whiskey Distillery 2019

Image from Sugarlands Distilling Co.

Sugarlands Distilling Company ranked “Best Craft Whiskey Distillery” for 2019

The Tennessee Smokies region is known for many things – family friendly attractions, beautiful scenery and locally made spirits. The Smokies are home to several breweries, wineries and distilleries that produce award-winning alcoholic beverages. In 2019, Sugarlands Distilling Company took the fourth spot on the USA Today 10Best ranking of “Best Craft Whiskey Distillery” and second place on the list of “Best Craft Specialty Spirit Distillery.” These rankings, of all distilleries in the country, was decided by experts in distilled spirits.

About Sugarlands Distilling Company

Sugarlands Distilling Co. is known for its moonshines and award-winning whiskey, the Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye. Visit the distillery, located on the Gatlinburg Parkway. Take a tour of the distillery and get a behind-the-scenes look at Sugarlands’ process.

The distillery also offers tastings of Sugarlands’ award-winning spirts, as well as seasonal offerings. Try one of the specialty boozy Sippin’ Creams, in flavors such as Strawberry Dream, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Electric Orange, Dark Chocolate, Butter Pecan and more.

Click here to read more about the Tennessee Smokies’ local libations.

Dollywood Best Amusement Park 2019

Dollywood ranked “Best Amusement Park” for 2019

Every year, USA Today 10Best puts out a comprehensive list of Readers’ Choice Awards. Among the categories is “America’s Best Amusement Park.” For 2019, Dollywood earned the fifth spot on the list.

Click here to read more about Dollywood.

Dollywood Fifth in Rankings for “Best Amusement Park” in 2019

The experts who compiled the rankings for “Best Amusement Park” are made up of theme park reviewers, writers and aficionados. Dollywood was named fifth for all of its offerings – thrilling rides, coasters, children’s attractions and more – all with the backdrop of the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Dollywood was also praised for the park’s entertaining stage shows and performances, live craft demonstrations, nearly year-round events and Southern-inspired food offerings.

In 2019, Dollywood also earned three Golden Ticket Awards from Amusement Today. The theme park was the inaugural winner for Best Guest Experience, Best Kids’ Area for Wildwood Grove and Best Christmas Event for the Smoky Mountain Christmas festival.

Wildwood Grove is Dollywood’s newest area, opening in 2019. The enchanted land is family friendly, geared specifically to younger children.

Click here to read more about Wildwood Grove.

Among Dollywood’s full lineup of thrilling roller coasters are some award-winning rides. Dollywood’s Lightning Rock earned “Wooden Coaster of the Decade” award from Coaster101.com.

Click here to read about rides at Dollywood.

Click here to read more about the Lightning Rod.

Dollywood will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2020. To commemorate this anniversary, Dollywood will have a new festival, new and returning entertainment offerings and much more. Mark your calendar for the park’s newest event, the Flower & Food Festival, May 8–June 14.

Dollywood is tentatively set to open for the 2020 season on Saturday, March 28. Coronavirus pushed the original March 14 opening. Be sure to visit Dollywood.com for updates on the park’s opening and how Dollywood is managing COVID-19.

Spring Wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains

Here are some of the most common wildflowers you’ll find during spring in the Smoky Mountains.

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Spring Events at Dollywood

Here are the seasonal events you can experience at Dollywood this spring.

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Things to Do this Spring in Pigeon Forge

Here are some of our suggestions on things to do during spring break in Pigeon Forge.

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Things to Do this Spring in Gatlinburg

Here are some of our suggestions on things to do during spring break in Gatlinburg.

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