When vacationing in Gatlinburg, it’s imperative that you discover activities and things to do the entire family will enjoy. Gatlinburg is home to an immense amount of interesting and one-of-a-kind attractions for kids and adults alike. From hands-on exhibits to extreme adventures, your family will have plenty of Gatlinburg interactive attractions to choose from while vacationing in the Smokies.

The interactive attractions in Gatlinburg let you experience the best family fun and engage in all that Gatlinburg has to offer. Some of our favorite Gatlinburg interactive attractions include:

 

Gatlinburg Interactive Attractions: Know Before You Go

Before you put on that ziplining harness or put the go-kart pedal to the metal, make sure you read our quick advice:

Understand Age, Height, and Weight Restrictions
Some Gatlinburg interactive attractions have specific age, height, and weight requirements due to the nature of the activity. Know these measurements and rules before you go!

Follow All Attraction Rules
Some of the interactive attractions Gatlinburg has to offer can get quite extreme! For your safety and the safety of other participants, make sure you follow all attraction rules and policies.

Know the Context of the Attraction
Since Gatlinburg offers plenty of interactive attractions to choose from, some are geared towards an older audience. Make sure you fully understand what the attraction is before letting kids participate.

Get Your Tickets From Reserve Gatlinburg
With so many Gatlinburg interactive attractions to enjoy, you can easily burn a hole in your wallet. To maximize your vacation fun and also minimize your spending, check out the ticket discounts available from Reserve Gatlinburg.

Which Gatlinburg Interactive Attractions Will You Experience?

Choose from Reserve Gatlinburg’s selection of interactive attractions for a vacation you’ll never forget. From zipping through the skies of the Smokies to racing at go-kart tracks to playing a round of putt-putt, the interactive attractions in Gatlinburg give you plenty to do… the only thing needed is you!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Hiking to Grotto Falls is a unique experience as it’s the only waterfall in the Smokies you can stand behind.  Plus, the location of Grotto Falls trail is minutes out of Gatlinburg off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, so make it the first stop on a day trip into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Ready to learn more about hiking to Grotto Falls?  Read on.

Grotto Falls Trail

Trailhead

To access the trailhead for the Grotto Falls trail, turn onto Historic Nature Trail/Airport Road at Traffic Light #8 in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Make your way to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  The parking lot for the trail is located on the left hand side of the road, about 5 miles from Traffic Light #8. 

The Hike

The length of the hike is relatively short–2.6 miles roundtrip–and is considered an easy one as the elevations gains are minimal.  To reach Grotto Falls you’ll follow the Trillium Gap Trail for most of the way.  Many large hemlock trees can be seen during this hike, which meanders though a beautiful old-growth forest.  Well-worn and easy to follow, the trail to the falls crosses four small streams (without any foot bridges) so be sure to wear waterproof shoes.  Around mile 1.2 hikers will notice a small cascade, with Grotto Falls coming into view just beyond this point. 

Grotto Falls

Once you reach Grotto Falls, climb behind the waterfall and bask in the shady and cool retreat the waterfall provides.  Tumbling 25-feet, the falls are an enjoyable place to visit not only for the views but for the exploration available.  Where else can you walk behind a waterfall and enjoy the perspective from the other side?  It truly is a unique experience and well worth the short hike.

Springtime Surprise 

If you visit in May, you’re in for a real treat.  A variety of wildflowers will be in bloom, including white violets, yellow trillium and Dutchman’s breeches.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Can hear those sleigh bells ringing? The holidays are right around the corner, and you can celebrate with festive things to do in Gatlinburg during Christmas. To discover all that’s happening in this Smoky Mountain town this season, read on.

Things to Do in Gatlinburg during Christmas

Trolley Ride of Lights
Through January 31, 2017, you can hop aboard a Gatlinburg Trolley to see the Winter Magic Light displays.  The guided, enclosed excursions leave from traffic light #5. Then, they travel through downtown and Highway 321. Multiple tours leave nightly at 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm. Cost is $5 per person.

Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Bundle up for the 41st Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Downtown Gatlinburg. The larger-than-life parade features dozens of marching bands from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, George and Alabama, whimsical balloon characters, more than 100 floats, and, of course, Santa Claus. The parade is held December 2 at 7:30pm. Generally speaking, it’s best to arrive early for a prime viewing spot.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
Over four million lights decorate Dollywood. Accordingly, park goers can enjoy a breathtaking display of holiday lights, along with spectacular holiday entertainment. During your visit, watch Carol of the Trees, which dazzles with synchronized lights and holiday music to transform Rivertown Lake into a seasonal symphony. Then, enjoy The Parade of Many Colors. Featuring floats adorned with bright lights and interactive characters, this nightly parade quickly wins over the heart of visitors.  You can also meet Rudolph and Friends at Holly Jolly Junction, and watch spectacular shows like It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas in the Smokies.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Known as the “world’s largest drive-through, fully synchronized, LED Christmas light and music show,” this experience is a highlight of the Christmas season. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is located at the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium at 3540 Line Drive. The light display is open from November 4, 2016 through January 8, 2017 from dusk to 10pm every night (later on weekends).

Biltmore Candlelight Christmas Evenings
Experience the grand tradition of the holidays at Biltmore Estate. The Christmas at Biltmore Celebration is scheduled for November 4, 2016 through January 8, 2017. America’s largest home is decorated with dozens of Christmas trees, hundreds of wreaths, bows and poinsettias, as well as miles of evergreen garland and thousands of ornaments. In addition, there is a massive 35-foot Fraser Fir tree will be adorned beautiful ornaments and presents.

Christmas Shows
Get into the spirit of the season with Gatlinburg Christmas shows. Family-friendly productions like Dixie Stampede ChristmasChristmas at Lumberjack Adventure and Hatifeld & McCoy Christmas Dinner Disaster are all popular holiday dinner shows. Likewise, Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry is a stunning show featuring the area’s largest living nativity, dancing elves, flying sugar plum fairies, Santa Claus and so much more. However, these are only a few of the shows that will delight your family this holiday season in Gatlinburg.

Ober Gatlinburg
Visiting Ober Gatlinburg is a an easy choice for things to do in Gatlinburg during Christmas. The Gatlinburg attraction is your home for all ski sports with tubing and skiing available. Furthermore, there’s an on-site ski rental shop and instructors on site. As a result, Ober Gatlinburg is able to cater to every visitors needs ensuring they have a spectacular time on the slopes.

Make these things to do in Gatlinburg during Christmas part of your holiday plans. The Smoky Mountains are waiting!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Are you one of the many people who’ve set their sights on a vacation in Gatlinburg? Millions of visitors flock to this mountain hamlet to explore The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, quirky downtown Gatlinburg and neighboring towns such as Pigeon Forge. If you’re short on time, though, and only have a weekend in Gatlinburg, I’m here to help.

Follow this guide touting what to do and where to go for a memorable weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Happy male traveler showing thumb up in summer mountains at sunset, point of view shot

Day 1

Explore the National Park

My absolute favorite thing to do in the Smoky Mountains? Explore the great Outdoors. With the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Gatlinburg’s doorstep, it’s a prime location for doing just that.

IMG_3296 Crockett Camp RSZ

Breakfast: Start your day with breakfast Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. This restaurant serves hearty portions sure to fuel your day of activity.

I recommend stopping by the Sugarlands Visitor Center to pick up any hiking maps and auto-tour guides (and maybe a souvenir or two!). Afterwards, it’s time to begin exploring.

Auto-Touring: At over 800 square miles, there’s a lot of ground to cover in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Accordingly, auto-touring is one of the best ways to see the sights. There are plenty of overlooks to stop at, providing pristine views of the park. Below are a few of the most popular auto-touring routes.

  • Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Cataloochee Valley
  • Newfound Gap Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

 

Dawn in the Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA.

Lunch: While you’re out exploring the National Park, there aren’t many places to stop for a bite to eat. I recommend picking up a to-go lunch so you’re not lost in the woods without a snack. Calhoun’s Restaurant will box up barbeque to-go. Alternatively, you can also stop by the local grocery for sandwich fixings, or hit up Subway.

Hiking: So many trails, so little time. This is always my struggle while at the National Park, as I want to do it all. When you only have a weekend in Gatlinburg, I’m sure you’ll think the struggle is real too. So, to make the most of your time I’ve highlighted a few of the most rewarding hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

 

Dinner: After a busy day of exploring, your belly will be rumbling. Treat yourself to one of the finest dinners in Gatlinburg at the Peddler Steakhouse. The food is superb, and the scenery is sublime.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA townscape in the Smoky Mountains.

Day 2

Experience Gatlinburg Attractions

On day 2 of your weekend in Gatlinburg, it’s time to experience some of Gatlinburg’s best attractions.

Breakfast: A visit to Gatlinburg isn’t complete without a pancake pit stop. For breakfast, dine at the Pancake Pantry. Just be prepared for a wait, as this place is very popular.

people are going on horse through forest

Horseback Riding: Sugarlands Riding Stables hosts guided trail rides through the Smoky Mountains, which is a unique way to see the sights just like the early settlers did.

Gatlinburg Sky Lift: For a bird-eye-view of the scenery, take an open air chair lift ride with Gatlinburg Sky Lift. As you ascend 1,800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain, you’ll gain access to some of the most breathtaking views of Downtown Gatlinburg.

Lunch: For a quick and delicious lunch, you can’t beat the Smoky Mountain Brewery. From calzones to burgers, this Alpine lodge-style eatery will win your taste buds over. Likewise, if you didn’t pick up a to-go lunch from Calhoun’s the day before, you should stop in for lunch today.

Gatlinburg Sky Lift RSZ (11)

Ripley’s Aquarium: Home to a variety of exhibits exploring life under the sea, families can spend hours viewing tropical fish, coral reefs and interactive displays. There’s even penguins living here!

Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster: Up next is a ride aboard the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster. Relatively new to the Gatlinburg attraction scene, this mountain coaster puts you in the driver seat—literally. You control how fast you go on this silent track, which twists and turns through scenic forests and wilderness.

Loco Burro Facebook RSZ

Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina/Facebook

Dinner: Loco Burro is a lively place to eat at night, especially if you can score a table on the rooftop. Twinkling lights, fire pits, live music and views of the Parkway set the scene. Of course, the large portions of fresh Mex and strong margaritas are a big draw too!

After dinner, be sure to visit a distillery or two for samples of moonshine. Ole Smoky Moonshine and Sugarlands Distillery serve some of the finest ‘shine this side of the Mississippi! Then, finish the night by going to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle. From it’s vantage point, the entire hamlet of Gatlinburg twinkles.

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Day 3

If you’re lucky enough to have a 3 day weekend in Gatlinburg, it’s worth taking some time to hop over to nearby Pigeon Forge. The towns, while similar, offer different ways to experience Appalachian culture. Highlights of Pigeon Forge include:

The Island: Home to the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, Margaritaville, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and over 30 other rides and attractions.

Dollywood: A family-friendly theme park with over 40 rides and attractions.

The Old Mill: A fully operational 1830s grist mill anchors the Old Mill, which is home to multiple shops and a one-of-a-kind homestyle restaurant.

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Where to Stay

During your weekend in Gatlinburg, I recommend staying near the Parkway. This way, you’ll never be far from all the fun! Below are some of the best places to stay in Downtown Gatlinburg.

  • Bearskin Lodge on the River
  • Old Creek Lodge
  • Hilton Garden Inn

Get Ready for a Wonderful Weekend in Gatlinburg

With this helpful guide detailing what to see and do in Gatlinburg, you’re ready for an action-packed weekend in Gatlinburg. Be sure to check out our events calendar to take advantage of seasonal events and festivities. You never know what might be brewing in the Smokies!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Autumn is one of the most scenic times of year to hike in the Smoky Mountains.  The bright colors of fall are painted across mountains and valleys, creating a setting that beckons one to explore.  With over 500,000 acres comprising the Great Smoky Mountains National Park choosing where to hike and sight see can be a bit overwhelming.  Use this helpful list of the best fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains to get a head start on your journey.

Fall hikes in the smoky mountains

Best Smoky Mountain Hikes to See Fall Foliage

Albright Grove Loop Trail
Trail Location – Cosby
Distance – 7 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

An excellent example of a hardwood forest, Albright Grove is one of the most diverse forests in America. Hiking here during the fall offers a rich blend of different colors and foliage. Plus, come of the oldest and tallest trees in the Smokies are found along the way.

Alum Cave Flickr CC hikes in the smoky mountains

Alum Cave Trail: Flickr/Daveynin

Alum Cave Trail
Trail Location – Gatlinburg
Distance – 5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderately Strenuous

Hikes in the Smoky Mountains don’t get much better than Alum Cave Trail. With an elevation of almost 5,000 feet, Alum Cave Trail offers outstanding views of the Smoky Mountains. Sweeping views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge to the west and Myrtle Point to the Northeast give hikers quite the reward.

1280px-Leaf-Colors-at-Newfound-Gap-NPS1 RSZ hikes in the smoky mountains

View from the Appalchian Trail

Appalachian Trail
Trail Location – Clingmans Dome or Newfound Gap Road
Distance – Varies
Difficulty – Moderate

I recommend hiking the 7.5 mile section of the Appalachian Trail located from Clingman’s Dome to Newfound Gap.  Canvassed with color, the peaks and valleys you pass through are a true highlight this time of year.

Roaring Fork 163730579 RSZ

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a favorite route for fall color

Baskins Creek Falls
Trail Location – Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Distance – 3 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Easy

Hike to Baskins Creek Falls to enjoy a canopy of fall foliage complemented by a two-tiered, 40 foot waterfall.

639px-Littleriver Wiki hikes in the smoky mountains

The Little River Trail follows the river of the same name: By Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons

Little River Trail
Trail location – Elkmont
Distance – 4.9 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

History and outdoor beauty combine at the Little River Trail. The entire length of the trail hugs a river of the same name, with a slow elevation gain making it an easy climb.

1024px-Sterling-from-cammerer-nc1 hikes in the smoky mountains

Mount Sterling, looking south from the Mount Cammerer lookout: By Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons

Mt. Cammerer
Trail Location – Cosby
Distance – 12 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

If you’re up for a challenge the 12 mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Mt. Cammerer is a fantastic fall hike. The summit offers exceptional views of peaks and valleys; Some say they’re the best in the National Park.

Mountain ridges glow with autumn color, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hikes in the smoky mountains

Mountain ridges glow with autumn color, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mt. LeConte
Trail Location – Newfound Gap Road
Distance – 11 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

Mt. LeConte rises 6,593 feet, making it the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. The reward at the top are endless views. In addition, the hike can be combined with Alum Cave so you get two experiences in one.

Fall 001 Pixabay RSZ

A walk through the woods doesn’t get prettier than this!

Old Settlers Trail
Trail Location – Greenbrier
Distance – 17 miles one way
Difficulty – Moderate

Old homesteads and a diverse collection of flora and fauna make the Old Settlers Trail a unique fall hike.

Porters Creek Trail Facebook hikes in the smoky mountains

An old homestead on Porters Creek Trail: Robyn Barbee Malone/Facebook

Porters Creek Trail
Trail Location – Greenbrier
Distance – 4 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

A variety of scenery, including historic sites, waterfalls and a meandering stream, create an easy yet rewarding Smoky Mountain hike.

Smokies

Even driving to the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains is beautiful

Sugarland Mountain Trail
Trail Location – Clingmans Dome Road
Distance – 7 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

The Sugarland Mountain Trail follows the ridge between Clingmans Dome and Little River Road. Peaceful and pristine, the forest here features a wonderful walk through the bright leaves of fall.

The Mountains are Calling

Get outside this autumn and see the splendor of Mother Nature.  The entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just minutes away from Gatlinburg, so you can easily access the best fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

Be sure to headquarter yourself inGatlinburg, Tennessee for easy access to all trails.  River Terrace Resort, Glenstone Lodge, Old Creek Lodge and Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort are a few nearby lodging options.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Pigeon Forge to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

When visiting Biltmore Estate, you step back in time to a bygone era. The surroundings transplant you to a world filled with luxurious opulence complimented by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate, which includes a 250-room French Chateau, is as impressive today as it was when it was built over 100 years ago. There are an abundance of things to do at Biltmore Estate. Throughout the grounds, there are self-guided tours of the breathtaking Biltmore House & Gardens as well as Antler Hill Village—featuring the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy, Village Green, and Farm.  In addition, there are outdoor pursuits offered so your day can be as busy or as relaxing as you like.

Plan your visit by following my guide to the best things to do at Biltmore Estate:

ToursPigeon Burg Work Trip (85)RSZ1

Biltmore Estate admission includes a self-guided visit to Biltmore House. Before you stroll through America’s largest home, be sure to admire the astounding architecture of the estate. The massive lawn is rolled out like a red carpet to the doors of this impressive home, and creates an ideal foreground for photos. Inside the home, following a marked route interspersed with knowledgeable guides, you can admire the artwork, clothing and décor from the Gilded Age. Plan 1.5-2 hours inside the home, depending on your pace. Guided tours are offered as well, specializing on the Biltmore House, Estate grounds and winery. Cost for these tours are $20 per person, on average.

Dining

Pigeon Burg Work Trip (93)_RSZOne thing is certain: you won’t go hungry to while visiting Biltmore Estate. Culinary offerings are a delicious part of the Biltmore experience. With over 15 places to drink and dine, the selections cater to refined palates and casual eats and everything in between. A farm-to-table mindset is at the center of the Biltmore dining, with fresh produce and meats from Biltmore Estate featured on menus, as well as award-winning wines from the Estate. For an elegant dinner, The Dining Room is a fine choice. Experience expertly prepared cuisine with world-class service inspired by the Vanderbilt’s. White linen tablecloths, Vanderbilt china, and crystal add to the luxury of savoring carefully executed meals. For southern cuisine like barbeque, The Stable Café is recommended while those who wish to sip wine and share plates The Village Social is an excellent place to gather.

Shopping

Biltmore_Estate_Asheville_NC_(007)George Vanderbilt traveled the world extensively, curating the collectibles you now see on display within Biltmore House. While appreciating the treasures of the Vanderbilt Estate you’re bound to be inspired. Find your own unique keepsakes at the charming estate shops. Antler Hill Village shopping includes a mercantile, outdoor outfitters, home décor shop and wine store, while the Biltmore House and Gardens offers a Christmas shop, bookstore, a Gilded Age-souvenir shop, toymaker and treat shop, as well as gardener’s place.

Outdoor Activities

This 8,000-acre estate is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The things to do at Biltmore Estate involving outdoor activities range from fly-fishing excursions to horseback riding to carriage rides and more. Browse through the pastimes below to get an idea of the adventures available:

Biking

There are many miles of biking trails to choose from, so you can traverse a well-marked woodland trail for a challenging ride or leisurely ride the paved trail along the French Broad River.

Biltmore EstateFly-Fishing

Try out fly-fishing or hone your skills at this Orvis Endorsed Fly-Fishing School.  Learn the basics of fly-fishing and casting, including equipment, casting, presentation, landing the fish, water safety, and knots from expert guides.

Hiking

Explore the grounds of Biltmore Estate on your own via their extensive network of hiking trails.  Lace up your hiking shoes, pack some water and trail map, and take advantage of the nearly 22 round-trip miles of trails.

Biltmore Horseback Riding

Guided horseback rides and private trail rides are offered, both of which explore the meandering meadows and lush forests of this Asheville estate.

Canoe Trips

From April to October you can float down the gentle French Broad River that winds through Biltmore Estate.  It is a peaceful, scenic way to soak up the outdoor charm of the area.

As you can see, the things to do at Biltmore Estate are extensive. You could easily spend a whole weekend at Biltmore Estate too, which is why The Inn at Biltmore Estate is a popular place to stay. When you stay at The Inn you never have to leave the gorgeous grounds of the estate and have the Vanderbilt’s stunning estate at your doorstep.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Are you the outdoorsy type? I most certainly am. When I visit a destination like Gatlinburg, the first thing I pack are my hiking shoes. With over 800 miles of hiking trails available, the best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains is hitting the trails and experiencing their beauty yourself. The area offers a variety of trail types to, from easy to strenuous, so you’re sure to find one that will fit your activity level. 

I recommend stopping by the Sugarlands Visitor Center before your hike to pick up a hiking map. It’ll give you an overview of the different trails available, as well as a quick overview of the trail type, distance and what to expect on your hike. Plus, the maps are only $1 which is incredibly cheap for all of the information they provide.

After a quick visit there, I decided Rainbow Falls was the perfect addition to my September vacation in Gatlinburg. Here’s what you need to know about hiking at Rainbow Falls:

Distance: 5.6 miles roundtrip
Type of Hike: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 3,820 feet

Trailhead: From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail/Airport Road. Follow this road .7 miles until you reach Cherokee Orchard Road. You’ll travel about 2.2 miles on Cherokee Orchard Road, going past the Noah “Bud” Ogle homesite to the Rainbow Falls parking area, with the trailhead at the edge of the main parking area. If the main parking area is full, there is a second parking area .1 miles down the road.

Overview: The first part of the hike will surround you with lush foliage and the shady canopy of the forests. The boulder-strewn pathway makes the uphill hike strenuous at times, but the sights and sound of trickling LeConte Creek, which cascades down the mountain ridge, makes the effort more than worth it. Crisscrossing up the mountain, you’ll traverse the creek several times by way of log foot bridges, which are great photo opportunities. These log foot bridges are located at mile 1.7 and mile 2.4. The Rainbow Falls hike follows a series of switchbacks that are highlighted by wildflowers, endlessly tall trees and views of the Great Smoky Mountains. At times, you feel like you aren’t covering much ground but as you cross LeConte Creek for the third time Rainbow Falls comes into complete view. I had to get an up-close look at the waterfall, which receives its name from the rainbows produced from its mist on sunny afternoons, so I navigated the rocks for a closer vantage point. There were also some great photo opportunities with a closer perspective. Rainbow Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smokies and well worth the hike.

Time: The journey down the mountain was much easier and went by much quicker than the journey to Rainbow Falls. All in all, though, allows yourself around three hours for the hike.

Note: The temperatures do get cooler as you reach higher elevation. During my September visit, it was also very humid which created a damp environment. Be sure to check the weather the day of your hike and layer your clothes appropriately. Bring water with you as well. You will NEED it.

If you’re ready for more once you reach Rainbow Falls, you can continue your hike onward to Mt. LeConte. It is an additional 3.8 miles (one way) so only add this to your hike if you have planned your outing in advance. There is a lodge at Mt. LeConte, but it requires reservations, and can be sold out several months in advance.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Scenic_Helicopter_Tours_(007)The Great Smoky Mountains are a stunning sight welcoming over 14 million visitors a year.  Many visitors choose to tour the National Park by auto-touring, hiking or even horseback riding.  However, one of the best way to see the grandeur of the Smoky Mountains is with a helicopter tour.  You’ll get a birds-eye-view of mountains, valleys and the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  Fly above the rolling mountains as you see the natural beauty of the area come to life as you soar above it. 

Gatlinburg helicopter tours are available through:

  • Scenic Helicopter Tours
  • Sevier County Helicopter Rides
Both companies offer variety of flights, so you can choose the sights you’d like to see during your helicopter tour.  Flights range from 2 miles to 90 miles.  Sights include the French Broad River, the National Park, Douglas Lake, Bluff Mountain, Clingman’s Dome and Mt. LeConte.  Reserve a flight today to see the Smokies in a whole new way!

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Hen Wallow Falls is a relatively pleasant hike through hemlock and rhododendron forests leading to a 90-foot waterfall. The hike to the falls is 4.4 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty.  Located in the Cosby section of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Hen Wallow Falls is located off the Gabes Mountain Trail. 

Hen Wallow Falls CC1_OPT

Hen Wallow Falls
Photo Credit: joevare/flickr

Trailhead: Park in the designated hiker parking area at Cosby Picnic Area (near the entrance to Cosby Campground). Then backtrack on foot approximately 100 yards along the road to the signed start of the Gabes Mountain Trail.
Once you hit the trail you’ll start ascending towards the northern section of Snake Den Mountain.  The trail, which is rugged at times, passes through beautiful forests, with hemlocks and yellow poplars creating a nice, shady canopy.  After passing over Rock Creek, hikers will reach Messer Gap.  From here continue heading straight, but just past this junction look to your left.  An old rock wall from a homestead can be seen.
Hen Wallow Falls_CC

Hen Wallow Falls
Photo Credit: Brian Stansberry

Around the 2 mile mark you will begin the descent on a side trail which leads to the base of Hen Wallow Falls.  A wooden sign is posted at the turn of the side trail, making it easy to find.  Hen Wallow Falls is only two feet wide at the top but expands to almost 20 feet at its base.

At 90 feet, Hen Wallow Falls ranks among the tallest in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Only Ramsey Cascades and Mingo Falls are higher.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

This summer you can experience a true wonder of nature in the Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg. For one week only, June 2-9, 2015, a rare species of synchronous fireflies blink in unison, creating quite the light show. The viewing are is located at Elkmont and the show begins around 9:30pm.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of only two places in the world where you can witness this phenomenon. It is an extremely popular event, so Elkmont pedestrian and vehicle traffic is prohibited from 5pm June 2-9. 2015. In order to view the fireflies you’ll need to ride the Gatlinburg Trolley service. For a $1 roundtrip, the trolley will pick you up from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, nightly from 7pm-9pm, and return guests after the show. The last trolley return time will be 11pm.

If you plan on attending the Synchronous Fireflies event in the Smokies, keep in mind:

  • Cover flashlights with red or blue cellophane as to not distract or disrupt the fireflies or other visitors.
  • Lawn chairs, blankets, food and water is allowed.
  • Cooler, pets and alcoholic beverages are NOT allowed.
  • Cameras are permitted but please turn your flash off.

 

Experience the beauty of this natural wonder in June. It’s sure to be a highlight of the summer!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Gatlinburg to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.