Are you up Fore a Smoky Mountain “Masters” Golf Challenge?

It’s that time of year when duffers, slicers and storytellers heed the call of spring and head to the links. With the azaleas in bloom and a driver in hand, the tee box is the ticket to happiness! And while we’ve been keeping up with all the action over in Augusta this week, we wanted to share with you some of our great golf courses here in the Smokies. So in that spirit, we decided to create our own Smoky Mountain “Masters” Golf Challenge!

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The Smoky Mountain “Masters” Golf Challenge can be championed by anyone with the drive to take it on! Here’s the challenge: play these four golf courses in the Smokies before the end of spring (June 20, 2015), and as you play along each course, post a selfie of you and your scorecard on HeySmokies’ Facebook page. Complete all four courses and you’ll win a special prize from the HeySmokies Gear closet!

You can start the Smoky Mountain “Masters” Golf Challenge on any of the courses. We can’t wait to see your photos and give away some cool HeySmokies Gear! Remember the deadline is June 20, 2015. Sounds simple enough, but that simplicity can be deceiving. The courses have been played by the best and now it’s your turn!

Bent Creek Golf Club
3919 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN
800-438-2929 | 865-436-3257
www.bentcreekgolf.com
Designed by three-time Masters and British Open winner Gary Player, this par 72 course has been rated as one of the “Top 50 Golf Courses in the South” by Southern Living Travel Guide. Nestled just across the road the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 18-hole course offers you a challenge in a relaxing environment with scenery that can’t be beat.

Gatlinburg Golf Course
520 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN
800-231-4128 | 865-453-3912
golf.gatlinburg.com
The views of the Great Smoky Mountains from this 18-hole course designed by William Langford are breathtaking. You’ll certainly find a challenge at #12, also known as Ski Hi, that is 194 yards in length with 200 foot drop! Oh, and we know that it’s weird that the Gatlinburg Golf Course would actually be in Pigeon Forge, next to RiverStone Resort and Spa, but that’s a good thing. It’s also very convenient to Dollywood too.

River Islands Golf Course
9610 Kodak Road, Kodak, TN
865-933-0100
www.riverislandsgolf.com
Designed by internationally renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills, this spectacular course features numerous holes crossing or playing along the beautiful French Broad River. With four holes actually located on islands in the middle of the river, River Islands Golf Course offers a truly unique golf experience.

Sevierville Golf Club
1444 Old Knoxville Highway, Sevierville, TN
865-429-4223
www.seviervillegolfclub.com
A gorgeous clubhouse combined with two championship 18-hole courses, the Sevierville Golf Club is a great place to spend a day. The River is a par 72 that plays along the Little Pigeon River. The Highlands is a par 70 that plays through the beautiful country hillside dotted with ponds. This is a great place to see a variety of birds including bald eagles that have recently made a return to the area.

Celebrate Earth Week in Gatlinburg April 19-25

It’s a full week of family-friendly fun in Gatlinburg this spring! Highlights for this year’s celebration include the Earth Day Festival in Mynatt Park on Thursday, April 23 and the Annual Earth Day 5K Run/Walk on Friday, April 24. Come celebrate Earth Week in Gatlinburg where it’s easy being green!

The Earth Day Festival in beautiful Mynatt Park will be from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. The whole family will enjoy free music, games, crafts stations, great food, and more activities. You can pick up your very own Gatlinburg Earth Week T-shirt specially designed by a local student. All proceeds from the event benefit the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation which provides local scholarships, school donations, sponsors and the Gatlinburg Goes Green Program.

earth-day-5k-gatlinburg-heysmokiesLace up your athletic shoes and take part in the Fourth Annual Earth Day 5K Run/Walk on Friday, April 24 in downtown Gatlinburg. All ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. Registration for this night race begins at 8:00 p.m. at Nantahala Outdoor Center located near traffic light #10 on the Parkway. The race begins at 10:00 p.m. The cost for the race is $20-$30 and is sanctioned by USA Track and Field. To register for the race visit runsignup.com. For more information, call 800-588-1817 or 865-436-0505.

On Saturday, April 25, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrates National Junior Ranger Day. At all three of the National Park’s Visitor Center’s there will be all kinds of fun and free activities to excite young minds about the natural world around them.

For more information on other fun activities throughout Earth Week in Gatlinburg, contact Gatlinburg Convention & Visitor Bureau Special Events Division at 800-588-1817 or 865-436-4178.

Music of the Mountains Festival on April 17-19 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrates National Park Week with the 11th Annual Music of the Mountains Festival Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19, 2015.

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Boogertown Gap performs at Music of the Mountains Festival

Music is a tradition that runs deep in the hills and hearts of Southern Appalachia. It tells the varied stories of the pioneering folk who called these mountains home. What we know today as Bluegrass, Roots, or Old-Time music had its beginnings in the traditional Celtic and religious music of these early mountaineers. And this weekend you can hear some it at Music of the Mountains in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Performances will be held in the National Park and at venues in the surrounding communities. Here’s the schedule so you can get your toes a tapping!

Friday, April 17
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Townsend
865-448-0044
Admission: $5
7:00 p.m. – Four Leaf Peat (traditional Celtic music)

Saturday, April 18
Sugarlands Visitor Center
865-436-1200
Admission: Free
10:00 a.m. – Boogertown Gap
11:00 a.m. – Lost Mill String Band
12:00 p.m. – The Freight Hoppers
2:00 p.m. – Time Simek on Dulcimer (Two-time National Champion)

Saturday, April 18
Plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
865-430-8808
Admission: Free
4:00 p.m. – Youth Pickin’ Contest* (ages 8-17)
*For registration information, call Gatlinburg CVB at 800-588-1817.

Sunday, April 19
Liberty Church of Cosby, 4304 Liberty Road
423-487-2800
Admission: Free
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Heritage, Harps and Hymns Old-Fashioned Community Sing

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The Freight Hoppers perform Sat, April 18

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Four Leaf Peat performs Fri, April 17

 

 

National Junior Ranger Day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on April 25

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Junior Rangers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrates National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at Cades Cove Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Sugarlands Visitor Center.

This free event for kids and families includes special activities like ranger-guided walks, old-fashioned toy making, fun stuff at the blacksmith’s shop, and more! Learn all about the Park’s wildlife with hands-on activities with animal skins, bones and even scat!

Children ages 5-12 can become a Great Smoky Mountains National Park Junior Ranger. Simply pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for $2.50 at any of the Park’s Visitor Centers or Cades Cove and Elkmont campgrounds. Complete all the activities in the booklet, stop by a Visitor Center and talk to a Ranger to receive your very own Junior Ranger badge!

Be sure to take advantage of the fun and informative Ranger-led programs offered by the National Park Service this season. Click here for a complete schedule of programs.

find-your-park-heysmokiesIn related news, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently launched Find Your Park, a public awareness and education campaign to set the stage for the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. Find Your Park encourages the public to get out and really experience  our national parks so that they are not only seen as a destination, but a state of mind, a special feeling to bring about a sense of American pride in our nation’s exquisite natural and cultural gems of the National Park system.

Find Your Park is also the theme for this year’s National Park Week, April 18 – 26.

“National Park Week is a time for visitors, of all ages, to get out and experience their national parks, especially the Great Smoky Mountains,” says Superintendent Cassius Cash, “I hope during National Park Week and over the next year as we celebrate the National Park Service’s second century, everyone will take the opportunity to Find Your Park.”

Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers to enjoy “Trail Magic” Welcome to Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Easter Sunday

Fontana, North Carolina – HeySmokies.com will greet thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail as they enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with some “Trail Magic” to celebrate the Easter holiday on April 5, 2015.

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As part of the Appalachian Trail’s 90th Anniversary this year, the HeySmokies.com team will serve a complimentary Easter picnic to individuals who are currently hiking the entire length of the 2,189 mile-long footpath that runs from Georgia to Maine.

“Trail Magic is something no thru-hiker expects, so when it happens it’s quite a welcome surprise,” says Brad Knight, co-founder of HeySmokies.com, “This is just a great way to pay it forward for the Trail Magic when I hiked.” Knight completed a six-month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 1997.

Northbound hikers enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just after crossing over Fontana Dam in North Carolina. They will traverse 71 miles through the National Park’s high country to exit at Davenport Gap in Tennessee. The highest point on the Appalachian Trail is at Clingmans Dome at 6,643 ft.

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Brad Knight prepares for “Trail Magic” on the Appalachian Trail.

“We expect to feed anywhere between 20 and 50 thru-hikers,” says Knight, “we coordinated with Jeff Hoch, the owner of The Hike Inn, to scout out a great location on the trail just a few miles before they reach Fontana.”

Although millions of people hike sections of the Appalachian Trail each year, only about a hundred hikers actually complete the entire trail. Most thru-hikers begin the trek in early spring at Springer Mountain, Georgia to walk north with the seasons.