Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cades Cove Clean Energy

Cades Cove solar array

The new Cades Cove solar array powers the Cable Mill visitor center and more! Photo credit – NPS.

Smoky Mountains National Park Cades Cove Clean Energy. The new solar array in the Cable Mill area of Cades Cove is up and running!

The new green energy project will reduce greenhouse gases by 23 tons thus reducing fuel costs by $14,000 annually. Until now the park used a diesel-fuel generator for powering the site which was noisy and adversely affected the natural experience of park visitors and wildlife.

This is a great step in making our park operations more environmentally friendly, said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. The solar panels will provide a great, natural source of energy for the Cable Mill Area that enables us to provide a better visitor experience and to be better stewards of the park.”

The newly solar array boasts 80 photovoltaic panels that provide a quiet, passive energy source to serve the small visitor center, bookstore, and restroom facility at the unofficial halfway point around the Cades Cove driving loop. The panels can be found behind the restroom in an open area that receives maximum exposure to both morning and afternoon sun. A berm was raised around the array and planted with native plants to minimize disturbing visitors view of the historic area.

Cades Cove is one of the most popular parts of the Smokies and averages around 2 million visitors per year. Many visitors stop at the Cable Mill area to tour the old mill, blacksmith shop, Cable house and other historic structures located there. Due to the isolated location at the west end of Cades Cove, the Cable Mill area is completely off the TVA power grid and it is necessary to generate all power on site.

The Southeast Region of the National Park Service provided the funding for this project. The work was completed by Solar Power Integrators, a veteran-owned company. The Smokies is also home to another solar array at the Sugarlands Visitors Center near Gatlinburg which has been helping to reduce greenhouse emissions for several years.

Gatlinburg Dining

HeySmokies Dining Smoky Mountain RestaurantsGatlinburg dining is always a special event in the Smoky Mountains! Gatlinburg is home to fabulous food.

Whether your taste runs from home-cooking to more exotic fare, you are sure to be pleased at one of the many area eateries located in Gatlinburg. Crawdaddy’s restaurant and Oyster Bar promises great food (think raw oysters and other seafood delicacies, piles of crawfish and buckets of beer) and good times with karaoke for all ages and free meals for kids. Boasting the only rooftop patio in Gatlinburg, Loco Burro’s menu includes it’s “world famous” fajitas, “Ritas” and sangria along with nightly entertainment. Hankering for some authentic Italian cuisine? Check out Taste of Italy which bills itself as the “Best Kept Secret in Gatlinburg and allows patrons to bring their own wine with no corkage fee. Big Daddy’s Pizzeria serves up made-to-order, sizzling hot homemade pizzas straight out of a 500-degree oven. One of the newer Gatlinburg attractions, and we hear through the grapevine the best cheese steak sandwich in town, is J.O.E. & Pop’s Sub Shoppe. Located just a few minutes outside the Great Smoky National Park boundary, and perhaps the most structurally impressive restaurant, is The Park Grill. The massive log structure is literally a work of art that features a contemporary décor and artistic nods to the Park’s wildlife. The Park serves American classic food and specializes in great steaks, comfort food and scrumptious desserts. So, toss that diet, or walk off the calories from one of these fabulous meals on the nearby hiking trails‑ these restaurants are just too good to miss.

Bonus tip: A short drive will take you to the delightful Buckhorn Inn Bed and Breakfast. Located on a scenic hillside just six miles north of Gatlinburg in Pittman Center, the Buckhorn has served as a culinary destination for the discriminating traveler since 1938. Trip Adviser gives the Buckhorn a 4.5 star rating. Evening dining is open to the public as well as inn guests. Seating begins at 7 p.m. for the creative regional cuisine’s ever-changing menu featuring a home-made soup, salad, fresh baked bread, a gourmet entrée and coffee and dessert.

America’s First Indoor Snow Tubing Park Headlines New Pigeon Forge Attractions!

Smoky Mountain indoor snow tubing!

The entire family will love the new Smoky Mountain indoor snow tubing attraction! Photo credit: CF Moller.

America’s First Indoor Snow Tubing Park Headlines New Pigeon Forge Attractions!

Pigeon Forge, located in The Great Smoky Mountains, announces an exciting array of new adventures for 2018 that includes year-round snow-tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow, the first indoor snow facility of its kind in the U.S., slated to open this year. What better way to end a sultry, summer day of hiking, shopping or rafting than to step into the 35,000 sq. foot winter wonderland complete with 15 lanes of snow-tubing fun on a fresh powder of real snow. Play areas will accommodate guests who want to build a snowman or participate in a friendly snowball fight. Snow on the slopes does not mean frostbite in this attraction where the indoor climate will remain between 60 and 70 degrees year-round.

Construction is also underway on a 200-foot-tall Mountain Monster which features three separate rides. A drop ride, dive ride and swing will all be part of the fun on this three-in-one thrill ride anchoring the new Tower Shops at Mountain Mile, an 180,000-square-foot retail and entertainment development spanning some 174 acres. The new Mountain Monster was designed by Stan Checketts who is responsible for similar attractions atop the Stratosphere in Las Vegas as well as one of the world’s fastest roller coasters which is located in Japan. Nearby lodging includes Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton, currently under construction.

The new attractions prove exciting additions to perennial Pigeon Forge Favorites like nearby Dollywood whose showstoppers this year include such entertainers as Blind Boys of Alabama, Marshall Tucker Band, Atlanta Rhythm Section, the National Dance Company of Siberia, the Flamenco Kings, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, just to name a few. Dollywood’s annual Rock the Smokies event will feature TobyMac and Crowder.

If golf is your game, tee off at the $7 million Crave Golf Club, a brightly colored and highly themed 36-hole course designed in a multilevel facility that covers 18,500 square feet and multiple levels. Each round consists of 19 holes and includes options for indoors, hillside or rooftop courses. Crave (true to the name) also houses a candy shop and a gourmet milkshake bar and is located on the Pigeon forge Parkway.

The new Lumberjack Feud Show, slated to open in late spring, offers audience participation in high-energy athletic competitions performed in an outdoor venue.

Kids and adults alike will marvel at the world’s largest replica of the RMS Titanic built from 56,000 LEGO bricks now on display at the Titanic Museum Attraction, the first location the U.S. this year to feature the replica. Constructed by 10-year-old Brynjar Karl Birgisson from Iceland, the replica measures 25 feet in length. Birgisson, who is autistic and the author of a self-penned book My Autistic X Factor, has become known as LEGO Boy.

 

America’s First Bullet Train Cures Cades Cove Car Conundrum

The Cades Cove bullet train is ready to roll!America’s First Bullet Train Cures Cades Cove Car Conundrum. Traffic jams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have reached epic proportions as annual visitation exceeds twelve million people annually. Cades Cove is often the epi-center of the traffic frustration.

The scenic eleven mile drive on the Western edge of the national park is literally being loved to death. Frequent “bear jams” can turn a leisurely two hour drive into a bumper to bumper free for all lasting upwards of ten hours. But all of that is about to change with the new Cades Cove bullet or “Maglev” train.

Maglev technology is nothing new to Asian countries with trains exceeding over 200 miles per hour. A traditional diesel train engine is not required. The Cades Cove train will be electromagnetically suspended above the track and literally propelled by magnetic force. The magnetic tech requires thousands of mega-watts of electricity which will be provided by the new Cable Mill solar array.

The new Cades Cove bullet train will be a revolution to each park visitors experience,” said National Park spokesperson J. K. Reelly. “Once all the passengers are aboard we will safely transport visitors around the cove.  We will be able to reach famous land marks such as the historic Cable Mill in less than thirty seconds from our terminal at the cove entrance. Train passengers will enjoy full service while aboard the train including a complimentary set of steak knives from the good people at Ginsu.

The projects contract was awarded to the Ginsu Corporation after an intense bidding war in late 2017. The contract includes provisions to protect the natural beauty of the cove and it’s historical treasures.

Everyone at Ginsu was thrilled to be a part of this project and to work with the national park service,” said Ginsu media representative We’ar Sharpe. “We found that our amazing saws and knives are extremely adapt at clearing the appalachian forests for the new track and could therefore be more competitive with our bid.

 

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Needs Oconaluftee Volunteers

Smoky Mountains Oconaluftee volunteers needed.Great Smoky Mountains National Park Needs Oconaluftee Volunteers. National Park officials are recruiting volunteers to assist park visitors by exploring the Oconaluftee River Trail, Mountain Farm Museum, and fields along Newfound Gap Road near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Volunteers are needed from April through November and usually work one, four-hour shift per week.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is a must stop for any visit to the Great Smoky Mountains! Entrance to the Center is free and it is open to the public every day except Christmas day. The Visitor Center has plenty of parking for cars, RVs and motor coaches. Public restrooms and vending machines are available to the left of the Center’s main entrance. You will find everything you need to experience the Park at your own pace.

The Visitor Center offers a unique view into the area’s past at the Mountain Farm Museum – a collection of historic log buildings from the late 19th century that were relocated here from all over North Carolina in the 1950’s. 

Volunteers will share information to visitors about park regulations that best protect wildlife which includes proper waste disposal and safe wildlife viewing distances. When elk are present in the fields, volunteers assist Park Rangers with traffic management to assure visitor and wildlife safety. In addition, volunteers provide information about cultural resources found at the Mountain Farm Museum and natural resources along the Oconaluftee River Trail.

Everyone interested in volunteering are required to attend a training session on Tuesday, April 3 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Oconaluftee multi-purpose-room near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Volunteers should bring a bag lunch to the training.

To register for training or for more information, contact Kathleen Stuart at 828-497-1914 or kathleen_stuart@nps.gov. For more information on elk, please visit the park’s website at NPS.gov.