Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage: Not Just About Flowers

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 2024 Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage takes place May 1 - 4. 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
  • Smoky's Salamanders: From Peaks to Seeps
  • Nighttime bat walk & owl prowl
  • Lore of the Herbs of Appalachia in the Smokies

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.

Event Info

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.

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