Biltmore Gardens Railway

Biltmore gardens railway is fun for the entire family!

Biltmore gardens railway is fun for the entire family! Photo credit: Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Gardens Railway is on display at Biltmore Estate from May 24, 2019 through September 29, 2019. For a limited time, in the Conservatory and at Antler Hill Village & Winery, enjoy beautifully executed botanical model train displays! These displays features a variety of Biltmore area structures, each handcrafted in meticulous detail from such all-natural elements as leaves, bark, and twigs. With 800 feet of rails and trains traversing six separate lines at different eye levels, this is a one-of-a-kind, fun-for-all-ages garden experience. The model train experience is included with the price of admission to Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Estate is nestled in Asheville, North Carolina in the foothills of the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. The largest private residence in the United States has long been referred to as America’s Castle. The sprawling estate includes tours of the historic mansion and the extensive garden designs by famed architect Fredrick Law Ohmsted.

Continue reading…

Rhododendron Festivals

Grandfather Mountain Rhododendron Festival

Late spring and early summer is the time for Rhododendron festivals.

Rhododendron Festivals at Roan Mountain and Grandfather Mountain herald the beginning of summer. Roan Mountain and Mother Nature team up to showcase Rhododendron blossoms in the highlands.

Roan Mountain has wowed visitors with its annual Rhododendron Festival for 60 years, and this year’s event, slated Saturday-Sunday, June 22-23, 2019, is no exception. Join visitors from all over the country and enjoy a spectacular walk through the world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens atop 6000 ft. Roan Mountain.  The rhododendron gardens are located in a Canadian temperate zone which is the perfect climate for this showiest of native plants. Hundreds of bushes, each of which might produce more than 100 clusters of flowers, cover the mountain.  Roan is the highpoint of the Roan-Unaka range of the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is also home to the largest stretch of grassy balds (Grassy Ridge, a type of highland meadow characterized by thick native grasses, shrubs, and few trees) in the Appalachian range. The Cherokee National forest and Pisgah National forest converge atop the mountain and Roan Mountain State Park is located near its northern base.

The Appalachian Trail wanders for most of Roan’s Crest which is home to Roan’s High Knob Shelter, the highest backcountry shelter on the entire 2,174-mile trail. Roan Mountain comprises the greater part of Roan Highlands which stretches from Big Rock Creek in the west to U.S. Route 19 in the east.

Continue reading…

Cades Cove Car Ban

Cades Cove car ban is under way.

Cades Cove car ban is under way.

Cades Cove Car Ban began May 2019. Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motor vehicles from sunrise until 10:00 a.m. on both Wednesday and Saturday mornings to allow bicyclists, runners, and walkers time to enjoy the cove without having to worry about heavy traffic. This special experience on the 11-mile paved loop road will last until late September.

During the season, bicycles can be rented at the Cades Cove Campground Store. For

Cades Cove car ban allows you to take a break without all the noise and traffic.

Cades Cove car ban allows you to take a break without all the noise and traffic.

pricing info, give them a call at 865.448.9034. Of course, you can bring your own bikes and helmets to enjoy the scenic ride through this historic landscape. Be mindful that Tennessee law requires cyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. HeySmokies and the GSMNP recommend anyone of any age wear protective head gear…just sayin’!

You won’t find any mountain biking trails within the interior of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are only 3 trails in the National Park that allow bicycles:

  • Gatlinburg Trail

    Begins at Sugarlands Visitor Center and travels 1.9 miles one-way toward the outskirts of Gatlinburg along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.

  • Oconaluftee River Trail

    Begins at Oconaluftee Visitor Center and travels 1.5 miles one-way toward the outskirts of Cherokee along the Oconaluftee River. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.

  • Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails

    From the Deep Creek Campground, cyclists can access both Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails. Bicycles areProng of the Little Pigeon River. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail. allowed on both trails until the point where the old roadbed ends and the hiking trails begin. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

  • Bicycles are allowed on most roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so drivers need to be alert of cyclists when driving through the park. Due to the narrow, steep, curvy conditions of park roads the HeySmokies cycling team recommends avoiding biking park roads in the interest of the safety of all park visitors.

Bonus Biking Tip! – Tsali Recreation Area has over 40 miles of mountain bike trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Tsali is located on the Southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the southern shore of Fontana Lake near Bryson City, North Carolina.

For more information on bicycling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and adjacent National Forests, please visit

Take time to enjoy the quiet of the Cove and get a little exercise!

Take time to enjoy the quiet of the Cove and get a little exercise!

Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K

Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K.

Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K.

Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K. Asheville’s Catawba Brewing Company sponsors White Zombie 5k. The first-ever White Zombie 5k on will be run Saturday, June 1, 2019. Deadline for registration is May 29. The run, which begins at 9 am, caps off the last day of Asheville Beer Week. Participants are invited to run or walk from Catawba’s South Slope tasting room through downtown Asheville while dodging zombies in several “Outbreak Zones” along the way.

Racers are encouraged to dress as zombies or other Catawba characters such as Farmer Ted, Evening Joe or the Hopnesss Monster. A beer token is included with registration for those zombie/racers who are 21 years and older. All participants will receive a ZOMBIE race bib. Dogs and strollers are allowed but must start at the back of the pack.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female overall finishers, the top male and female in the Masters Division (40 and older) and the top male and female in the Grandmasters Division (50 and older.)

Catawba will donate 3.5 meals per registration to MANNA FoodBank.  Kara Irani, director of marketing and communications for MANNA said the donation makes a difference. “The funds from the Zombie 5k will really make a life-saving difference to the people across Western North Carolina who will have a full plate because of the race participants.”

Billy Pyatt, co-owner of Catawba Brewing Co, explained that the company’s mission is comprised of six pillars and “give back and make our region a better place is one we hold near and dear to our heart,” Pyatt said.

Registration, which cost $40, closes today. For information or to register, call 828-338-8380 or visit WhiteZombie5K.

Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon

Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon, when and where to view it! on

Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon, when and where to view it!

Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon will be viewable Monday, June 17, 2019. The name Strawberry Moon was universally used by the Algonquin native Americans for generations. In Europe this moon is referred to as the Rose Moon.

Native Americans gave this name to June’s full moon to mark the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries. Strawberries were a seasonal food source for the Algonquin as well as their neighbors to the South, the Cherokee. White settlers kept the name in the vernacular. The cultivation of strawberries has become a multi-million dollar industry that is enjoyed by thousands of people world wide. Could you imagine if they were only available during a few weeks of June?

Continue reading…