All posts by Caroline Sullivan

Smokies Scavenger Hunt 2017

Grab your favorite group of people and get ready to explore the Great Smoky Mountains like a true adventurer. This weekend (March 24-25, 2017) marks the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont's annual Smoky Mountains Scavenger Hunt, an exciting event for nature lovers and pathfinders alike.

Fun For All Ages

Since 2010, outdoor enthusiasts and explorers of all ages have teamed up every year to try and snag the winning title and their name on the Hunt Hall o’ Fame plaque. Teams include a range of different kinds of people, from groups of friends and coworkers, to families of children and adults. Some groups dress alike or wear matching team t-shirts to show everyone they mean business!

It's a little different than your typical scavenger hunt in that you're not actually taking things from the park; it's more about collecting information and photos, not physical items. Scavenger hunt rules encourage teams to be very careful about their impact on park resources. Different tasks are worth a different amount of points. For example, you might get the chance to snag a selfie with a park ranger, or take a pencil and paper to get a tombstone rubbing. Perhaps you can identify a certain carving in a certain pew at a certain church in Cades Cove. The questions engage people on the trail and encourage participants to explore the park, including new and unknown places.

A Race To The Finish

There are about 75 questions to complete in a 25 hour time period. Starting Friday afternoon by 3:30 PM, each registered team will receive the list of questions via email. Teams require a digital camera with a flash memory card that they can hand over to the judges at the end of the hunt when they meet back at Tremont no later than 4:30 PM on Saturday.

A Gathering of Nature Lovers

While the scoring is under deliberation, all the teams can enjoy a hot meal and a nice evening gathering under the pavillion. Some small randomly drawn door prizes are distributed among teams that competed, as well as some special prizes to recognize certain achievements. All teams must have completed the hunt and be onsite at the event during the giveaway to receive the prizes, so don't be late!

Jennifer Jones, President & CEO of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, says this is really meant to be a fun, low-stress event, and a unique opportunity to get to explore parts of the park that people may not have seen before. This year it takes place during the first weekend of spring, so what better way to celebrate the wonderful season?

To compete in this exciting event, you must register online and fill out a hunt waiver. Registration is $50 if completed by Thursday, March 23 and $60 if you register day-of. All proceeds benefit programs at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. You can check out the hunt rules and more information on the event website.

Glass Bottom Boats Launch Over Ripley’s Shark Lagoon

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in nearby Gatlinburg has opened up another window to a wondrous underwater world with its newest attraction. The aquarium recently launched its Glass Bottom Boat Adventure, giving visitors of all ages a chance to set out over the calm waters of the Shark Lagoon and get a new view into the habitats of thousands of creatures teeming below.

Travel Under The Sea

Ripley’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure puts just 3-inches between visitors and the aquatic inhabitants of Shark Lagoon. The 16-foot boats feature a large pane of glass in the center of each vessel’s floor – allowing passengers to peer into the water below to observe the creatures swimming in the reef underneath.

Shark Lagoon

Nearly 85,000 animals reside in the Shark Lagoon, according to information from Ripley’s Aquarium. Visitors will have a chance to see 75 unique species from tropical Atlantic and Caribbean reefs swimming about the Lagoon, including: Green Moray Eels, sawfish, nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks and even a sea turtle. As the boat travels across the lagoon, knowledgeable guides narrate the scenes below and share facts about the creatures below.

The attraction is the only one of its kind in Tennessee and the only similar attraction indoor attraction is at the sister Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Boats launch approximately every 20 minutes and each ride accommodates approximately 10 guests.


  • What: Glass Bottom Boat Adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
  • Where: Traffic Light #5 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg.
  • When: Open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
  • How Much: Tickets are $29.99 for adults and $15.99 for children.
    The Glass Bottom Boat Adventure is not included in the cost of aquarium admission.
  • More Info: Visit the Ripley's Aquarium website to learn more.

Don’t be a landlubber! Make Ripley’s watery wonderland part of your Smoky Mountain experience! Looking for things to do you’ll only find in Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains? Explore our Pigeon Forge attractions and start planning your next adventure!

March 2017 Hot Deals

Check out these great deals and discounts on cabins, hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Pigeon Forge this March!

Patriot Getaways

Winterfest Special: Use code WIN17 when you book your stay for 2 nights and get the 3rd night FREE! Must reserve free night at time of booking. Includes holidays. Requires a minimum of 3 nights stay. Applies to certain properties.

Claim Now!

Terry Kay Cabin Rentals

Specializing in comfortable dog friendly cabins with great amenities for the beloved pooch in your life. Many have fenced yards or special zones just for dogs. For the month of March stay 3 nights and get the 4th night FREE! Holidays excluded.

Claim Now!

American Mountain Rentals

Stay 2 Nights, Get the 3rd Night FREE! Take a long weekend in March and the third night is on us! Simply apply promo code A32FREEWKND to your online booking or call our Xplore Team at (877) 805-7794 to make your reservation now! Valid only only for stays between 1/1/17 to 3/31/17 and booked by 3/29/17. This offer is only valid for new bookings and cannot be used on existing bookings. Blackout dates and home exclusions may apply. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other offers.

Claim Now!

Lakefront Cabins

Spring specials! 15% OFF a 6 night minimumn stay. Or get 10% OFF a 4 Night minumum stay. Valid between March 3 and April 20 excluding Easter Weekend.

Claim Now!

Whispering Pines Condos

Stay 3 Nights for the price of 2 when you vacation with us within the month of March! Book by calling us at 800.429.4361 or book online with Promo Code: WOW17. New reservations only. Some restrictions may apply. Receive free tickets to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg attractions with your booking.

Claim Now!

Bear Crossing Condos

Stay 3 Nights for the price of 2 when you vacation with us within the month of March! Book by calling us at 800.429.4361 or book online with Promo Code: WOW17. New reservations only. Some restrictions may apply. Receive free tickets to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg attractions with your booking.

Claim Now!

Cedar Lodge Condos

Stay 3 Nights for the price of 2 when you vacation with us within the month of March! Book by calling us at 800.429.4361 or book online with Promo Code: WOW17. New reservations only. Some restrictions may apply. Receive free tickets to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg attractions with your booking.

Claim Now!

Fireside Chalets

Conveniently located near the unique shops, outlet malls, entertainment, theaters, fine dining and attractions of action packed Pigeon Forge. Springtime Special for March is pay for 2 nights and receive a 3rd night FREE! Call 1-877-774-4121 while supplies last!

Claim Now!

Hemlock Hills Cabin Rentals

A family-owned, family-operated rental company with Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins equipped with all the extras you’re looking for in a great vacation rental. March special! Offering the 3rd night FREE! Warm up in one of our beautiful cabins and relax after the holidays.

Claim Now!

Our Smoky Mountain View

“Our Smoky Mountain View” is a luxury log home in the Great Smoky Mountains! This lavish cabin is located in Legacy Mountain Resort. The resort has wide, paved and well maintained roads. Stay seven nights and get your eight night FREE for the month of March!

Claim Now!

Music Road Resort

This March 1 – April 30, stay 3 nights and choose one of our activities like $50 dining cards, tickets to a rides, attractions, or mini-golf! Stay 4 nights and choose 2 activities, stay 5 nights and choose 3 activities, or stay 6+ nights and choose 4 spectacular activities! Call 1-877-443-3163or visit for full list of the Spectacular Spring Break Package activities, and the package terms and conditions. Offer valid March 1 – April 30, 2017. Must book package directly with Resort.

Claim Now!

River Plantation RV Resort

Experience camping in stunning open-air scenery combined with warm Southern hospitality. River Plantation RV Resort is your ideal natural environment mixed with delightful customer service in Sevierville, Tennessee. This March get 15% OFF the entire stay!

Claim Now!

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad can offer 10% OFF Nantahala Gorge or Tuckasegee River excursions by mentioning promo code TNFRIENDS when calling to book 800-872-4681 OR book online at and entering promo code on the payment screen. Not valid on non- profit train events, Saturdays in October, fundraisers, adventure add-ons (rafting, zip lines, jeep tours), licensed specialty events and special events trains.

Claim Now!

Greystone Lodge On The River

At the foot of the stunning Smoky Mountains, across the street from Ripley's Aquarium, in the heart of downtown and just a short drive to all the fun and entertainment of Dollywood, our hotel is the ideal location for your spring break get-a-way! Save 20% when you stay 3 or more nights March 10th thru April 17th! Call (800) 451-9202 and use code 3NG20 to get this special offer. Not valid with other discounts or promotions.

Claim Now!

Great Outdoors Rentals

PAY FOR 2 GET 50% OFF 3RD NIGHT! PAY FOR 3 NIGHTS GET 4TH NIGHT FREE, Excludes Holidays. Experience a new way of relaxing with Hot Tubs, Mountain Views, Internet Access, Jacuzzis, Fireplaces, Game Tables and much more. We also offer Pet Friendly accommodations. Come check us out our many specials today and book your reservation online 24/7.

Claim Now!

Smith Creek Moonshine

FREE SHOT GLASS - Free shot glass with purchase of any jar of Smith Creek Moonshine. Limit one (1) per visit. Not valid with other offers or discounts.

Claim Now!

Spring Break 2017 Giveaway

Springtime is just around the corner and that means it's time to plan your Smoky Mountain getaway! wants to help you and your friends have the best spring break ever with a stay in the Smokies courtesy of Patriot Getaways. And while you're here, we'll hook you up with some of the best things to do in Pigeon Forge, including passes to Ripley's Aquarium Of The Smokies as well as other Ripley's attractions, a $50 gift certificate to Dick's Last Resort, movie tickets at Governor's Crossing Stadium 14 Cinemas, and even a set of our favorite merchandise from Pepper Palace.

All you have to do is like us on Facebook and share this post for your chance to win! The winner will be drawn on February 28, so don't miss your chance! Check out the details for the entire winning package below.

Patriot Getaways: 2 Night Stay

American Patriot Getaways is the area’s leader in providing quality chalet and cabin rentals in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN. With 300 unique properties to choose from you’re guaranteed to find the perfect log cabin home or chalet for your next Smoky Mountain getaway.

Governor's Crossing: 4 Movie Tickets

Governor’s Crossing Stadium 14 Cinema is the premier luxury theater in Sevier county. Amenities include Dolby 7.1 audio, luxury seating featuring leather recliners, and large format presentations in the 40,000 watt SXS auditoriums.

Dick's Last Resort: $50 Certificate

Eat. Drink. Laugh. Service with sarcasm and buckets of great grub! Dick says “Hope yer hungry, Sucker!” And is serving up everything from lip-smackin, ribs to buttery fresh crab legs.

Ripley's Aquarium: 4 Tickets

Marvel at every creature of the ocean without getting wet! From playful penguins to fierce-looking sharks, this amazing aquatic world is educational and fun…the highlight of downtown Gatlinburg.

Pepper Palace: Gift Set

Pepper Palace encourages a fun and fiery environment for everyone. We believe that food should be memorable with taste that consumes you inside and out creating a Spice Life experience! "The Planet's #1 Hot Shop" Pepper Palace is known as a “One-Stop-Shop” for everything spicy.

Impossibilities Of Magic: 2 Passes

Impossibilities is a magic and mind-reading show starring Magician Chris Collins and Mentalist Erik Dobell at the Space Needle in Gatlinburg. Are you looking for an evening of family entertainment in the Great Smoky Mountains? You’re looking for Impossibilities.

4 Winter Hikes to Enjoy in the Smokies

The beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains draws folks to Pigeon Forge all year long – not just when the weather is fair. Winter weather turns the mountains and hills around Pigeon Forge into a veritable wonderland and winter hikes in the Smokies are a perfect way to experience all the beauty the region has to offer this time of year.

Ready to plan your cold weather adventure? Here are four winter hikes you can enjoy in the Great Smoky Mountains during your next Pigeon Forge vacation.

1. Laurel Falls Trail

Named for the beautiful Mountain Laurel shrubs that produce beautiful springtime blossoms, Laurel Falls is truly a sight to be seen year-round. Laurel Falls Trail takes hikers right to this glorious landmark, with a wooden walkway crossing the stream and the base of the fall’s upper section. Long stretches of below-freezing weather turns the falls into a natural wonder, as the frozen water cascades create a crystal castle.

Like this water I’m falling for you 😂

A photo posted by Jerry McEachin (@jerry_mceachin) on

The Laurel Falls trail is only 2.6 miles round-trip and paved, but can be steep in parts. Wet weather and ice can make the trail slippery, so caution is advised during winter weather hikes.

*TIP: It takes about two hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Plan on spending more time on the trail if you plan to stop for photos: You’ll find many Instagram-worthy photo ops along the trail.

2. Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald

Want to take in a breathtaking sight? Hike to Andrews Bald along the Forney Ridge Trail. This hike starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot and gives hikers a chance to take in postcard-worthy winter views of snowcapped Smoky Mountain peaks. A final rise through a forest will bring you to the grassy Andrews Bald area, giving you the perfect place to pause and reflect.

The best thing about hiking trails is, if you take enough turns, they never end! #GSMNP

A photo posted by Gatlinburg, Tennessee (@visitgatlinburg) on

It’s a 1.8 mile hike to Andrews Bald, with 1,200 feet in elevation changes.

*TIP: Want to make your hike memorable? Before you head out, fill a Thermos with hot chocolate and stash it in your backpack. Sharing a few sips with a loved one as you take in the views at Andrews Bald will likely make the experience even sweeter.

3. Alum Cave Trail

Beautiful views of icicle formations are a worthy payoff for a challenging winter hike on Alum Cave Trail. The trail begins by crossing over Walker Camp Prong and Alum Cave Creek on log bridges, leading hikers through an old-growth hardwood forest – which is teeming with life even in winter.

You’ll find the Alum Cave Bluffs about 2.3 miles from the trailhead. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, moisture from the ground freezes to form icicle formations forming frozen stalactites –creating a stunning scene you’ll remember for life. You will experience an elevation change of 1,200 feet as you hike to Alum Cave Bluffs, making a steep trail and challenging terrain. Additionally, the trail follows the edge of a ridge in sections. Make sure you’re wearing rugged shoes and are ready for a climb before you set off!

Watch out for deadly icicles ☄

A photo posted by smilescart (@smilescart) on

*TIP: Alum Cave Trail is undergoing restoration and may be temporarily closed some days during the week. Please call the National Parks Service at (865) 436-1200 or click over to for additional information before you plan your weekday hike.

4. Porters Creek Trail

Porters Creek Trails is the perfect family friendly winter hike: It promises great views, offers a moderate challenge, and the 4-mile round-trip trek to Fern Branch Falls is enough to wear the kids out before dinner. Porters Creek Trail is located on some of the park’s lowest terrain, so you can count on it being open year round – even when snow and winter weather have forced upper-elevation areas closed.


A photo posted by Laura (@laurak921) on

The first mile of Porters Creek Trail is actually an old gravel road, so it is wide and easy to travel. After this, the trail turns into a dirt footpath. Fern Branch Falls are about two miles down the path and drop off on the left side of the trail. Porters Creek with also take you through the Elbert Cantrell farmstead, which was settled around the turn of the century – giving you the perfect opportunity for a history lesson as you take in the woodland mountain scenery.

*TIP: Remember to dress for the elements when you’re heading out for a winter hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. Keep in mind that a hat is a hiker’s thermostat and is an essential part of your cold-weather outdoor gear. Dressing in layers will also help you stay warm, and always remember to make your base layer a moisture-wicking garment.

Winter hikes let you see a different side of the Smokies and give you an opportunity to explore and make lasting mountain memories. Make a winter hike in the Great Smoky Mountains part of your next Pigeon Forge vacation.