Looking to Catch Some Waves for Spring Break? Check Out the Pigeon River!

Looking for something different this spring break? Look no further. The secret is out on the excitement of whitewater rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains on the Pigeon River. It’s Spring Break 2015 Smoky Mountains Style!

spring-break-2015-girls-heysmokiesEvery year thousands descend on the Pigeon River for whitewater fun and adventure. The American Outdoor Association recently rated the Pigeon River as the third most popular whitewater rafting river in the country!

Also known as the “Big Pigeon,” the river boasts two sections for rafting with each offering a great experience on the river. The Upper Whitewater Section challenges boaters with Class I through Class IV rapids. The Lower Section is a slower paced, float trip the entire family will enjoy! The Lower run has Class I through Class II rapids with a Class III thrown in at the end for good measure.

Almost a dozen professional rafting outfitters provide everything you need from gear and safety training to bus transportation from the river outpost to the put-in at the Tennessee / North Carolina state line. Don’t worry if it’s a bit chilly, the outfitters offer dry suits to keep your warm! Be sure to bring a change of clothes and wear shoes that are strapped to your feet; no flip flops are allowed.

The Pigeon River is the closest whitewater rafting to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Knoxville. The outfitters are conveniently located in Hartford TN just off Interstate 40 at exit 447. The Pigeon River rafting season opened March 1 and will run through mid-October.

Two other awesome rivers nearby also won accolades:

Most Popular Whitewater Rafting Rivers ranked by America Outdoors Association:
1) Ocoee River, near Cleveland/Chattanooga TN
2) Arkansas River, CO
3) Pigeon River, Hartford TN
4) Nantahala River, near Bryson City NC
5) Lehigh River, PA

Don’t let another spring break pass your class by without taking the mountain challenge of running the rapids in 2015!

Dolly Parton Does More Than Just Dream In The Smokies

As Parton’s theme park, Dollywood celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, the entertainment icon continues to turn her big dreams into reality in her beloved Smoky Mountains.


Dolly’s Homecoming Parade on May 1, 2015 officially kicks off the tourist season and the superstar has a lot of new and exciting things going on to celebrate.

Thousands will gather along the Parkway for the parade in Pigeon Forge and eagerly anticipate what over-the-top, extravagant outfit Dolly will be sporting for the special event. As always, she will be chock full of laughs and smiles for her legions of fans who come from around the world to see  her. The parade begins at 6:00 p.m. on River Road in Pigeon Forge near traffic light #7 and will head north on the Parkway and end at traffic light #3.

Dollywood opens for the season on March 21 with Festival of Nations, the largest International Festival in the South, which runs through April 20. This year Festival of Nations will feature music, dance, food and art from Ireland, Argentina, Trinidad, Germany, Equador and more. Beginning on May 21, Dollywood switches gears for its Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival that celebrates all things southern Americana. Through June 7, you can tap your feet at over 250 concerts from some of the best roots musicians in the country and sample authentic, hickory-smoked goodness at this award-winning festival.

New this year is Rock the Smokies, a Christian rock event scheduled for Labor Day weekend in May with popular bands Third Day and For King and Country as headliners. Dollywood is bringing back the Showcase of Stars Concert Series for August and September. Dolly will perform four concerts August 8 & 9 and her good friend Kenny Rogers will perform the final concert of the series. Check back to see the rest of the lineup when it’s announced.


Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort Opening Summer 2015!

The much anticipated opening of Dolly’s new DreamMore Resort is scheduled for August 18. Room rates start at $179 per night and come theme park specials and benefits. The $300 million luxury resort will offer 307 guest rooms in nine different layouts. Amenities include a restaurant and a 4,000 sq. ft. zero entry outdoor pool with waterfalls and a lazy stream.

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede continues to be a favorite among vacationers and now there’s even more reason to love it. In celebration of Dixie’s 28th Anniversary this year, they’ve unveiled a brand-new show complete with state-of-the-art lighting and special effects. Don’t worry, there’s still a lot of horses, great food, music, fun and games that have made dinner at Dixie Stampede a favorite family tradition. Just get ready for a wonderful new journey into the magical nighttime forest of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Dollywood’s Splash Country will open for the season on May 16. Splash Country has more than 23 water adventure slides and thrill rides with the newest being RiverRush which is Tennessee’s first and only watercoaster.
Other exciting news for Dolly include a recent deal struck with NBC to produce a series of TV movies based on her songs, stories and life. She’s also launched a new website DollyParton.com that is a one-stop shop for all things Dolly.

Wine Lovers Events in Gatlinburg on April 10 & 11

Don’t Miss the Gatlinburg Wine, Dine & Art Crawl on Friday, April 10 and the Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Wine Festival on Saturday, April 11.gatlinburg-smoky-mountain-wine-fest-heysmokies

The Gatlinburg Wine, Dine & Art Crawl will be in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10.

The Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Wine Fest will be held at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 11.

On Friday night head out to The Glades to explore the historic Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. You’ll enjoy meeting personally with local craftsmen while having a private gallery tours. Of course, there will be delicious wines and small bites provided by local wineries and restaurants.

Then on Saturday night, you can taste and enjoy a variety of wines from almost a dozen wineries from across Tennessee. Also as part of Wine Fest, you’ll delight in learning about wine pairings, the art of wine making, and cigar appreciation.  Great wines and small dish fare from the area’s top restaurants all come together for a wonderful weekend of filled with good times and laughter in the Smokies.

gatlinburg-smoky-mountain-wine-fest-logo-heysmokiesBoth events are for guests 21 and older. Purchase a combo ticket for both events for $55 per person. Art Crawl tickets are $45 per person. Wine Fest tickets are $20 per person. Tickets can be purchased  at www.gatlinburg.com.

Wine Fest ticket holders will receive a wrist band and special commemorative wine glass for samplings. Wineries will provide wine in 1 ounce samples to everyone with a wrist band. Bottles of Tennessee wine will be available for purchase.

pick-tennessee-products-heysmokiesSome participating wineries include Amber Falls Winery & Cellars, Apple Barn Winery, Beans Creek Winery, Cades Cove Cellars, Eagle Springs Winery, Goodwater Vineyards, Grinder’s Switch Winery, Hillside Winery, Keg Springs Winery, Mountain Valley Winery, Paris Winery, Reedy Creek, Sugarland Cellars, Sumner Crest Winery, and Tennessee Valley.

A portion of proceeds from Wine Fest will benefit the Gatlinburg Hospitality Association Scholarship Fund and Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts.

It’s Fun Times and Fabulous Food at the Food Ministry Fiesta on April 27 at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies


food-ministry-fiesta-2015-heysmokiesIt’s always a fun time with fabulous food at the annual Food Ministry Fiesta on April 27. 2015 at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. Festivities kick off at 6:00 p.m. and will end at 9:00 p.m.

You’ll enjoy a great spread of delicious Mexican food with music and entertainment. And it’s all for a great cause with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Sevier County Food Ministries.

Tickets for adults are $50 each, 2 for $75 or 3 for $100. Tickets for children ages 3 to 11 are $10 each. RSVP today to the Sevier County Food Ministries at 865-428-5182.

Sevier County Food Ministries simple mission is to feed the hungry in our community. They are a voluntary interfaith ministry founded in 1992 to serve as an emergency food resource for persons experiencing a food shortage. Those who need assistance can go to the food pantry once a week for as long as they need. The ministry offers support, prayer and counseling for those who request it.


Sevier County Food Ministries relies on the contributions of individuals, businesses, churches, clubs and organizations to provide for the ever growing need in our community. Please support them and learn more by visiting www.seviercountyfoodministries.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SevierCountyFoodMinistries.

65th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 21-25

Celebrate spring in the mountains with a fascinating 5-day event focusing on all things Smoky Mountain nature! Revel in the beauty and complexity of the area’s natural phenomena by immersing yourself in the many offerings of the 65th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 21-25, scheduled in the heart of the flowering season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Beautiful Bluets in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo credit: Jack Thyen

The 65th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage offers a spate of exciting opportunities ranging from wildflower walks and birding excursions (bring your binoculars and a sense of adventure) to a tree identification tour and a guided hunt for edible mushrooms among many, many other interesting outdoor experiences. These walks on breathtakingly beautiful trails will be led by experts who will be sure to fill your mind to capacity with the wonders here in “God’s Country.”

The Pilgrimage will also feature an array of indoor seminars designed to ignite your imagination and stoke your curiosity about the secretive natural world of the legendary mountains whose presence overshadows us all. Retired Park Ranger, Arthur “Butch” McDade will lead participants into the world of prominent Smoky Mountain writers in a program entitled “Old Smoky Mountain Days.” Jon Elder, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee will take attendees back in time to explore the “Legacy of the Cherokee.”


At a welcoming luncheon in the Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg, the crowd will warm to stories by former Chief Park Ranger Kim Delozier. Author of Bear in the Backseat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (two volumes), Kim will regale the crowd with unforgettable tales of encounters with wildlife and visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park garnered over his long career. Kim says, “You know your chances of being hurt or killed is much greater driving your vehicle to a trail head, being struck by lightning, or having a tree fall on you than being hurt by a bear.” This truth does not mean that humans should not respect bears. “Some people still feel like it’s okay to get close to black bears. Others feel like it’s okay to feed them,” adds Kim. Luncheon tickets are available online only at www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org. Reserve yours today!

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