All posts by Caroline Sullivan

Things To Do For Father’s Day In Pigeon Forge

If you’re looking to plan a day of appreciation and fun for that special father figure in your life, look no further. Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountain area have tons of options for a group getaway on Father’s Day weekend.

Treat Him To A Spa Day

Treat dad this year with some of the best quality pampering in Pigeon Forge. Take him to the spa for a day, or maybe even book a romantic weekend for two. RiverStone Resort has great spa packages so you can choose the activities and relaxation that's just right for dad. Whatever package you decide on, you can’t go wrong with this kind of spa treatment.


Looking for a different kind of stay? Check out more Pigeon Forge hotels on the parkway.

Plan An Outdoor Adventure

For the outdoorsman, consider a camping trip or just a day hike on one of the Smokies’ many beautiful trails. With 850 miles to choose from, you’re guaranteed to see some gorgeous scenery and really take in that fresh Smoky Mountain air. Or perhaps you’re feeling a bit more adventurous; if that’s the case, plan a white water rafting trip on the Big Pigeon River.


Get your adrenaline pumping on a group trip, or for the more experienced, enjoy a kayak excursion individually. The surrounding communities offer equipment rentals for whatever adventure you decide. Check out our attractions page for more information on booking a rafting trip.

Fontana Trestle Train

Back by popular demand, the Fontana Trestle Train will be celebrating with BBQ & Brews on the Saturday before Father’s Day. The ride will include slow-cooked BBQ in Sweet Baby Rays sauce, smoked chicken quarters, and beer or root beer tastings showcasing local breweries. Family friendly seating is available so the whole crew can enjoy the trip. Find all the details on the event page.

Fontana Trestle Train

Go For A Round Of Golf

Treat dad to 18 holes of golf on one of the beautiful courses at the Sevierville Golf Club. The gorgeous club is located in the rolling foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Start with fine tuning your short game at the driving range, and catch a nice break with the lunch specials at Mulligans.

Sevierville Golf Club

Grab A Sweet Treat

Unleash the sweet at Maddog's Creamery & Donuts. With their full selection of ice cream, soft serve, homemade donuts, and funnel cakes, Maddog’s has the best selection of sweet treats in the Smokies. Check out their menu of delicious items here.


Do Dinner & A Show

Comedy, drama, and even magic: Pigeon Forge offers a show for every entertainment craving. Tickle his funny bone with some homespun humor at The Comedy Barn or enjoy a more interactive performance at the Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show. If he’s a music man, stop by Country Tonite Theatre or the Smoky Mountain Opry.

Shows & Theaters

Father’s Day is just around the corner, so it’s time to start planning your gift to dad. Keep Pigeon Forge at the top of your list and you’re sure to have a great time with the whole family. For more ways to organize your itinerary, take a look at 5 free family activities in Pigeon Forge.

July 4th In Pigeon Forge | 2018 Events

July 4th in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is a day packed with fun activities the whole family will enjoy. It's a great time of year to plan your summer vacation. Don't miss these incredible events happening on the 4th of July in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!

July 4th Parade in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is known for having the First Independence Day Parade in the Nation. Come celebrate the annual 4th of July parade in downtown Gatlinburg starting just a minute past midnight on Wednesday, July 4th. There are nearly 80,000 people that come out watch year to see the show. For more than 40 years, the parade has honored our nation’s veterans & other U.S. military heroes with this classic, small town American parade.
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Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival 2018

The annual Patriot Festival is an experience you will want to take the whole family to! The event kicks off on the 4th of July at noon with a free Kids Carnival along with food vendors start the festivities off. From 1:30pm – 9:30pm starts the free entertainment including games along with performances by Electric Avenue & headliner Craig Morgan. Then, at 9:45pm the fireworks showcase begins!
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Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta

The Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta race starts at noon at the Christ in the Smokies bridge and ends at Ripley's Aquarium. There are two categories: Trash (not hand-made) and Treasure (hand-made). Awards will go to the top 3 in each category. Additionally, the “Judges Choice” award will go to the most creative raft. Awards will be given to the oldest and the youngest participant.
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Gatlinburg 4th Of July Fireworks

Don't miss Gatlinburg's 4th of July Fireworks finale show at 10 PM in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg! This 20 minute fireworks show earns rave reviews and it’s a great way to finish a perfect 4th of July in the Smokies. Be sure to arrive early to find parking and get a great spot for viewing this popular nighttime celebration.
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Start planning to spend July 4th in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg today. Browse our selection of cabins and hotels to find the perfect place for your family's summer vacation.

Best Of Pigeon Forge 2018 Nominations

It’s time to nominate your favorite businesses for the Best Of Pigeon Forge 2018! Fill out your choices in the form below to nominate businesses in each category. When the voting period begins on June 4, you will be able to vote for your nominees. After filling our your nominations you must enter your email (to filter out bots and spam) at the end of the form to submit your choices. Got questions? Check out the Best of Pigeon Forge FAQ below the nomination form. You can also take a look at the results from last year by clicking here.

Synchronous Fireflies in the Smokies

synchronous fireflies in the smoky mountains

When You Can See Them: June 7-14, 2018

You might have seen fireflies flickering their lights after dark before, but have you ever seen them synchronize with each other? There are at least 19 different species of fireflies that live within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Synchronous Fireflies are one of them. These are one of the rare species in the world known to synchronize their flashing patterns.

Important Dates for 2018:

  • Friday, April 27 at 12:00 PM: Lottery for Vehicle Passes opens
  • Monday, April 30 at 8:00 PM: Lottery for Vehicle Passes closed
  • Wednesday, May 9: All lottery applicants will be notified that their application was successful (and they are awarded a vehicle pass) or unsuccessful (and they were not awarded a vehicle pass)
  • Thursday, June 7 – Thursday, June 14: The park will provide shuttle service to the viewing area
Enter The Lottery

Why Do the Fireflies Synchronize?

No one really knows why the fireflies flash together. One theory is that males are competing and they all want to be the first to flash. Or, another theory is that if the males all flash at once they will have a better chance of being noticed, so that the females can make comparisons between them.

Experiencing This Natural Phenomenon

During this peak firefly display period, you will have a chance to see this amazing display of natural beauty. Great Smoky Mountains National Park organizes a shuttle service that will take you from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Elkmont Viewing area. This is where a huge population of synchronous fireflies can be found.

The first shuttle leaves the main parking lot at around 7pm. The shuttles will start to return from Elkmont later in the evening when they are full, which will likely be around 9:30pm and they will continue to run until everyone has returned.

The viewing area at Elkmont consists of small paved areas and walking trails and the park rangers will be in the area in order to provide information.

Winning Tickets Via the Lottery System

In order to ride the shuttle and view the fireflies, you must acquire a pass. The number of parking spaces and the capacity of the shuttle is limited. Due to the limited number of spaces, the parking passes will be distributed via a lottery.

It is free of charge to enter the lottery and it will open on Friday, April 27th at 12:00 PM. After the lottery closes, the winners will be chosen and the results announced soon after. This year the winners of the lottery will be charged a $20 reservation fee to cover the cost of awarding the passes, viewing supplies, and nightly personnel to manage the event. A $2 (cash only) round-trip fee will be collected when boarding the shuttle at Sugarlands Visitor Center. If you win a parking pass, there will be no rain checks, transfers or refunds.

In 2017, the park distributed 1,800 vehicle passes, which includes 1,768 regular parking passes (225 per day). [Source]

In order to use the parking pass the lottery winner must be within the vehicle and must present their photo identification before the vehicle will be admitted to the parking area. Only one application can be completed per household. This is a fair way of giving everyone a chance to obtain a pass for this very high demand event.

Top Picnic Areas In The Smokies

A picnic in the Great Smoky Mountains is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You’ll experience nature, tranquility and delicious food in new ways. Here are 5 picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to help you plan your next day out.


There’s no question why many folks consider picnicking at the Chimneys one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Here you’ll experience breathtaking views while listening to the gentle roar of a nearby creek. Located near Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Chimneys Picnic Area is open until 8 p.m. during the summer months (May-August) and at dusk the rest of the year. Pack your picnic ready or cook on one of the grills provided here. Restroom facilities are available.

Metcalf Bottoms

Nestled along the Little River, Metcalf Bottoms is another of the best picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains. Most of Metcalf Bottoms picnic area is open year round, so it’s perfect for taking advantage during the cooler months. Rent the pavilion here in advance from the National Park Service or take advantage of the provided tables. Metcalf Bottoms is located in the Wears Valley area off of Lyon Springs Road.


Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Greenbrier picnic area is one of the park’s greatest treasures. Here you’ll find a pavilion that seats 70 and can be reserved in advance for your next gathering. Situated along the Little Pigeon River, you’ll find beautiful views of wildflowers here all spring and summer. The Greenbrier picnic area is open year-round and is near the Porters Creek Trail and Ramsey Cascades Trail.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is one of our favorite areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here you’ll find breathtaking mountain views year-round. This picturesque valley features a picnic area right off the main loop where you can enjoy a picnic any time of the year. Cades Cove also offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. You might spot deer, groundhogs, turkeys, skunks or even a bear during your picnic in Cades Cove.

Big Creek

The Big Creek Picnic Area is located just over the state line in North Carolina, but it’s well worth the drive. This cozy picnic area only features 10 sites, but it promises beautiful views and breathtaking scenery. Open April-October, the picnic area closes at dusk. Amenities include charcoal grills and restrooms with flush toilets and cold running water.

When you’re picnicking in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s important to remember to respect the nature around you. Clean up after your picnic by disposing of all trash and cool charcoal ashes in the receptacles provided. Do not interact with or feed any wildlife you see during your picnic, especially bears. Feeding bears can cause them to become day active and teach them to leave the safety of the back country.

All Picnic Areas In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Picnic Area Location Open/Close Dates Number of Sites Pavillion
Big Creek Gatlinburg, TN March 30 - Oct 28 10 None
Cades Cove Townsend, TN Year Round 81 None
Chimneys Gatlinburg, TN March 11 - Nov 28 68 None
Collins Creek Bryson City, NC March 30 - Oct 28 182 Seats 70
Cosby Cosby, TN March 23 - Oct 28 35 Seats 55
Deep Creek Bryson City, NC Year Round 58 Seats 70
Greenbrier Gatlinburg, TN Year Round 12 Seats 70
Heintooga Cherokee, NC May 26 - Oct 10 41 None
Metcalf Bottoms Gatlinburg, TN Year Round 122 Seats 70
Twin Creeks Gatlinburg, TN March 30 - Oct 28 Pavilion Only Seats 150

Ready to pack up for your Smoky Mountain picnic? Learn more about things to do in the Smokies and make the most of your time in the mountains!

Are Dogs Allowed in the National Park?

You’ll find tons of pet friendly lodging in Pigeon Forge and people love to travel with their dogs. But are dogs allowed in the National Park? The simple answer is yes, but only in designated areas. Here’s what you need to know about bringing your dog to the Smoky Mountains.

Can I hike with my dog in the Smoky Mountains?

You’ll find two dog friendly trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park:

  • The Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee Trail. Both short walking paths allow you to hike with your dog in the Smokies.
  • The Oconaluftee Trail is a 1.5 mile one-way trail that starts at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. You’ll walk along the outskirts of Cherokee, N.C. It has a few small hills and promises views of the Oconaluftee River.

Before you and Rover lace up your hiking shoes, you’ll need to know the following:

  • Your dog will need to be kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times when you’re in the Smoky Mountains.
  • You are required to pick up and properly dispose of all pet waste while you’re in the park. Simply bag it up and toss it in a trash receptacle.

Where are dogs allowed in the Smokies?

Good news! Leashed dogs are allowed in picnic areas, campgrounds and along roadways in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But do not bring your dog to any other parts of the national park. You could get a ticket and fine from park ranger. Dogs are not allowed in the park for a handful of reasons, many of which are in place to protect you and your pet.

  • Wildlife in the park could transfer diseases to your dog.
  • Your dog could become prey to large animals in the Smoky Mountains like coyotes and bears.
  • Barking could disturb the tranquility of the park.

It is also important to note that pets are allowed in the many Tennessee state parks around the Great Smoky Mountains. Ready to make your dog part of your Smoky Mountain vacation? Explore pet friendly lodging in Pigeon Forge and plan your getaway today!

Music In The Mountains Spring Parade

The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a celebration of the rich musical heritage of the Smoky Mountains. Previously known as the Dolly Parade or Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, this event highlights the Pigeon Forge theaters and incredible singers, dancers and actors from all over the city that entertain visitors at the Pigeon Forge theaters nightly.

music in the mountains spring parade

Musical History

The parade also highlights our musical heritage that has played a major role in the development of modern country and bluegrass music. The music of East Tennessee is defined by country and bluegrass artists and has roots in Appalachian folk music. This artistry will be displayed in the Music in the Mountains Spring Parade along with local high school marching bands, local celebrities, floats, majorettes, horses and more!

New Grand Marshal

For the last 32 years, this popular parade drew over 50,000 spectators that would line the Pigeon Forge parkway to see Dolly Parton lead the parade route and wave to her fans from her themed float as the Grand Marshal of the Dolly Parade. Dolly has passed her torch to the new Grand Marshal for 2018, The Iron Man, Cal Ripkin Jr. Cal Ripkin is a multi-record holding American baseball player, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and co-founder of Ripkin Baseball.

The Ripkin Experience in Pigeon Forge is a local youth baseball facility in Pigeon Forge open to 7u – 12u age groups for practice, camps and tournaments.

When Is The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade?

The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade takes place May 4, 2018. It will begin at 6 pm and will enter the Pigeon Forge Parkway near traffic light #6 and head north towards Sevierville to traffic light #3. The parade will take up the northbound lanes of the parkway and all traffic will be diverted to the southbound lanes. This parade is free to everyone and is a family event. Plan to come early to get the best seats on the parkway.

Free parking for the parade is available at the LeConte Center Municipal Lot or Patriot Park in the Old Mill Area. For the best parade viewing, book one of our Pigeon Forge hotels on the parkway and enjoy the parade from the comfort of your own balcony and take advantage of the free parking.

Best Smoky Mountain Spring Vacations 2018

There are so many things to do in the spring in Pigeon Forge, TN. Hiking, parades, fishing, rafting and more are what make the Smoky Mountains the best spring vacation.

A Mountain Quiltfest

March 20-24, 2018

Celebrate the art and heritage of quilting at 2018’s A Mountain Quiltfest. Quilters from all around will come together in Pigeon Forge for this five-day long ultimate quilting event, where they will have the opportunity to attend classes that based on their individual skill level & technique.


Spring Car Shows

March – May

Pigeon Forge car shows draw enthusiasts from all corners of the southeast and beyond, making events like the Corvette Expo, Ponies In The Smokies, Spring Rod Run, and Chevy Classic Roundup some of the most anticipated springtime activities of the season.

Car Shows

Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament

April 7-8, 2018

Play a part in the fun and excitement of Gatlinburg’s annual Spring Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament. This event is perfect for everyone, including adults, children and visitors of all ages. Over 10,000 trout will be stocked in over 20 miles of Smoky Mountain streams.

Trout Tournament

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 24-28, 2018

Gatlinburg’s annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an experience that offers something for all ages. As winter finally fades away and the colors of spring begin to sparkle throughout the Smokies, this five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites people to participate in fun outdoor events.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Rafting Season Begins


Whitewater rafting is an adventure for the whole family. The Pigeon River is dam-controlled with scheduled water releases from Memorial Day through Labor Day giving adventurers the perfect rapid conditions from a float to a more thrilling whitewater adventure.

Music In The Mountains Parade

May 4, 2018

Formerly referred to as the Dolly Parade or Dolly Parton’s Homecoming, Pigeon Forge’s annual springtime parade will have a new name this year. Cal Ripken Jr., member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and chairman and cofounder of Ripken Baseball, will be the grand marshal for the 2018 parade, showcasing the rich musical heritage of the area and the variety of entertainment provided by the many popular local theaters.

Spring Parade

Wilderness Wildlife Week

May 8-12, 2018

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the world’s most beautiful places to take in everything the great outdoors has to offer. During the events at Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge, you’ll have a chance to learn about the fauna, flora and folks who call this rustic region home.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

The annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Gatlinburg, TN is truly an experience that offers something for everyone. As winter fades and the colors of spring begin to sparkle throughout the Smokies, this five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites people to access to some of the nation’s leading botanical experts as well as Appalachian wildlife authorities.


Events at the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage range from wildflower, wildlife, and human history walks, to motorcades, photographic tours, and indoor seminars. The professionally guided walks go from moderately easy to very strenuous hikes. The majority of hikes are less than a mile, and the many indoor activities at Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg include seminars, presentations during the day and special presentations in the evenings that explore the region’s rich natural and cultural resources.

When Is The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage?

The 2018 Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage takes place April 24-28. Tours showcase the abundant varieties of wildflowers, plants, ferns, mosses, trees and shrubs, as well as birds, reptiles and amphibians – all native to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Highlights include:

  • Guided hikes & wildflower walks
  • Edible mushroom walk
  • Black bear & wild hog walk
  • Photography & gardening workshops
  • Motorcades & scenic drives in the Smokies
  • Birding workshops and sketching
  • Butterflies in Cades Cove
  • Salamander foray
  • Nighttime bat walk & owl prowl
  • Medicinal plant walk

History of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage began in 1951 when Gatlinburg’s city manager asked officials of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the University of Tennessee botany department to collaborate on a wildflower festival. The Gatlinburg Garden Club also co-sponsored the event, feeling it would be very successful.

All programs are held rain or shine. The Pilgrimage headquarters is at Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee where participants pick up pre-registration packets, register on-site, attend evening programs, and meet for van departures. Plan on coming into town for the event this year? Check out our plethora of lodging in the Smoky Mountains, and take a look at the event calendar to fill up your schedule with fun things to do in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg.

Wildflower Pilgrimage