Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cades Cove Loop Road To Open Early - April 24th 2010

Cades Cove Loop Road is to reopen on April 24th, which is a month earlier than expected. The road was projected to be closed three months, beginning March 1, for major work, including a repaving of the loop.

The $6.7 million redo of the popular 11-mile loop inside the Great Smoky Mountains National park was slated to be completed no later than May 21. Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson credited contractor APAC-Atlantic Inc. Harrison Division and the Federal Highway Administration for the quick completion of the large project.

To commemorate the reopening on Sunday morning, April 25, the park and the Friends of the Smokies are planning a one-time-only “Cades Cove Loop Lope,” which will offer pre-registered runners a choice of the full 11-mile loop or a 3.5 mile loop course. for more info check out this link. Cades Cove Loop Lope

The loop is usually limited to bicycles and pedestrians until 10 a.m. Saturday and Wednesday from May through September. The one-time closure on April 24 will be extended to noon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Smoky Mountain Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage-April 21 - 25, 2010

Attend the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and you just might see a dazzling display of redbuds in bloom. Attendees also will be able to enjoy a presentation on Theodore Roosevelt by Joe Wiegand.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be held from April 21 to 25.

Now in its 60th year, it's the largest Wildflower Pilgrimage in the country. More than 1,000 attendees, called pilgrims, will descend on Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for wildflower and bird walks, lectures on composting and on attracting insect-eating birds and strenuous hikes.

This five-day program attracts visitors from the Midwestern and Southern states and as far away as Colorado and Alaska. Started by the Gatlinburg Garden Club, the University of Tennessee, and the City of Gatlinburg, it is now managed by the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Ken McFarland, a biology professor at the University of Tennessee, chooses the trails and leaders for the outdoor programs.
"We have lots of wildflower walks on both sides of the park (North Carolina and Tennessee). People come for at least two days and most do a wildflower and bird walk," he said.

Mr. McFarland personally will lead a hike on mosses and liverworts; he's been with the program since 1976. Other subjects include salamanders, insects, bears, and hogs

The highlight for Mr. McFarland is "talking to visitors and getting them engaged. They ask interesting questions. I like to have public understand and be more aware of the environment they live in."

Mr. McFarland explains that his challenge is finding people who are willing to come and are qualified to lead. The outdoor leaders volunteer and pay their own travel expenses. The program provides them with housing and meals.

"Leaders give pilgrims a different perspective and encourage them to take a scientific look at the environment in more depth," explained Mr. McFarland. "Walks are casual and slow-paced. We have two or three leaders per event, so they can engage with the public. We go rain or shine, so people should come prepared."

Indoor programs are also popular. This year, the headliner is A Theodore Roosevelt Salute to the Great Smoky Mountains. Joe Wiegand, who calls himself a 'reprisor' and not an impersonator, is "TR", known as our best conservation president. He'll tell stories of the early conservation movement and the growth of our national parks. Mr. Wiegand has even performed at the White House.

"I portray TR because his life and his stories speak to Americans today in a worthwhile way," said Mr. Wiegand. "TR’s dedication to family and country, his values and ideals, and his policies for conservation, a 'Square Deal' and a 'Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick' foreign policy are very relevant to our current circumstances.

"I enjoy traveling this beautiful country and entertaining in the persona of TR, of whom his daughter Alice famously said: 'Father wanted to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral and the baby at every christening.'"

Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created in 1934, long after TR died in 1919. During his tenure in the White House from 1901 to 1909, he designated 150 national forests, the first 51 federal bird reservations, five national parks, the first 18 national monuments, the first four national game preserves, and the first 21 reclamation projects. Altogether, in the seven-and-one-half years he was in office, he provided federal protection for almost 230 million acres, a land area equivalent to that of all the East Coast states from Maine to Florida.

Closer to Smokies history, Robin Goddard will give a performance on Ann Davis, considered the mother of the Smokies. Ms. Davis was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1925 where she introduced a bill authorizing the state to purchase the first large piece of land for the park. But let's not forget, it is the Wildflower Pilgrimage, after all. So what will the bloom be like on April 21?

"The last two years, we had spectacular wildflowers. In general, flowers are coming out a week earlier than they did 50 years ago," said Mr. McFarland, who studies the phenology of plants in the Smokies, the science dealing with the influence of climate on the recurrence of annual cycles such as flower blooms and bird migrations. "But this year, the cold winter will delay the bloom so they should be on schedule."
The details:
The Wildlife Pilgrimage runs from April 21 to April 25 (Wed to Sunday). Online registration is on now until April 11 at
this site. Since each session has a limit, you should register as soon as you can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"The Titanic" Opens In Pigeon Forge - April 8, 2010

The World’s Largest Permanent Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN, is launching its Grand Opening April 8, 2010. Guest Appearance by Regis Philbin. The christening of the ship outside the bow will be at 10:00am - Thursday April 8th, 2010.

Join us as we take you on an incredible historical journey. Get ready to play a part in one of the greatest human dramas of all time. You will navigate through twenty rooms holding 400+ valuable museum artifacts and personal items, an exclusive photo collection and hands-on-activities, which include:
Walk an actual size replica of the Grand Staircase

View pictures that literally come to life

Touch the frozen surface of an “iceberg”

Send an SOS signal from the ship’s wireless communications room and receive communication from the coast guard

Listen to survivors’ stories as they sit in actual lifeboats

Feel the chill of that fateful "Starry Night"

Stand on the mighty ship's bridge and hear the Captain's commands

View life onboard, see a First Class Stateroom and a Third Class cabin

Explore world-class gallery rooms with rare historical artifacts

Control a simulated underwater Titanic exploration of your own

See more info at

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Check Out Dollywood's New "Adventure Mountain" Opening March 27,2010

Set the course for adventure at Dollywood’s new "Adventure Mountain". Explore and uncover an endless combination of high-energy
feats to engage and entice the
entire family!

This multi-level area covers approximately two acres and requires varying levels of skill and ability. Four courses invite adventurers to navigate more than 100 challenging obstacles, including swinging beams, suspension bridges, flying islands, a tire traverse and more including the base-level Camp Teachittoomee.

The excitement of the great outdoors is just waiting to be discovered by those who accept the challenge of Dollywood’s new Adventure Mountain.

Visit the
Adventure Mountain website for more information.
Photo & Info from

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dollywood's Opening Day-Saturday March 27,2010

Dollywood's Opening Day

Dollywood’s opening day is Saturday, March 27, 2010. Mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate our 25th anniversary season with us! Be one of the first to explore America’s largest challenge course—Dollywood's new Adventure Mountain:

Explore 100+ elements on 4 unique adventures. Navigate a rock cliff, swinging rope bridges, geysers, and much more
Choose your adventure trail, from easy to difficult, from a few inches to as high as 90 feet above the main walkway!

Plus, weather permitting, Dolly plans to make a few surprise appearances throughout the Park that day. So come and enjoy the rides, shows—and maybe even see Dolly—next Saturday, on opening day!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Cades Cove Closed 3/1 To 5/21/10 But Still Lots More To See In The Smoky Moutains!

Cades Cove is closed, but there are still plenty of adventures to experience on the Peaceful Side of the TN Smokies.

Cades Cove Road Closure – Alternative Adventures
The road in Cades Cove is scheduled to be closed March 1 - May 21, 2010 for major improvements. Weather may affect these dates.

The road will be closed to all public use, including hiking, bicycling, and auto touring during the closure period. Trailheads along the road will be closed, including Cooper Road Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, and Rabbit Creek Trail. Although trailhead access from along the Loop Road will be closed, these trails will remain open and hikers can access them via connecting trails in the area. Download a park trail map to view area trails.

Rich Mountain Road, Forge Creek Road and Parson Branch Road will not be accessible during the closure. This will affect trailhead access/parking for Indian Grave Gap Trail, Gregory Ridge Trail, Gregory Bald Trail, and Hannah Mountain Trail.

The Cades Cove Campground, picnic area, horseback riding stable and campground store will be operating as normal. Bicycle rentals will not be available from the campground store during the period when the Loop Road is closed.

While Cades Cove is temporarily closed, there are many alternative adventures to enjoy such as a self-guided tour of Tremont, Little Greenbrier School, The Walker Sister’s Cabin, Elkmont Summer Community, the Heritage Museum in Townsend, the Little River Railroad Museum and the scenic Foothills Parkway.

For a complete list of all adventures, visit “The Do” section of
Tammi Ford EVP Communications Blount Partnership

Please bookmark other informative websites:,,
Community Calendar, Blount Chamber Calendar