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January 14, 2019

Gatlinburg Goes for World Record in Number of Scarecrows

Did you know that Gatlinburg is set to attempt a world record for having the most scarecrows in one display?  The record has been held since 2014 by an English city, Burton-upon-Trent, which is innkeeper John’s birthplace!  Cincinnati held the most recent U.S. record.  John also lived there.  If Gatlinburg succeeds, we think John could hold a world record for living in the most cities that held the record for scarecrows!  Sounds like we will have an exciting fall 2019!

The current world record is 3,812 scarecrows all in one display.

Will Gatlinburg be able to bring the record back to U.S. soil?

The Battle for the World Record

Burton-upon-Trent’s record is 3,812 scarecrows in one display.  Photos of their scarecrows can be seen at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-28956395.  The population of Burton is approximately 76,000.  The display was erected on the National Forest Adventure Farm.  According to the director, visitors brought many of the scarecrows.  Some even made them on-site.  In fact, guests added more than 100 scarecrows every day.  Seeing thousands of scarecrows in one place is a stunning visual.  Some of the mannequins had plain white cloth heads.  Meanwhile others bore the faces of celebrities.

Jim Downs, director of events at the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, says that local businesses are encouraged to purchase scarecrows.  Other ideas include having a scarecrow drive.  Individuals could make a scarecrow in exchange for a donation to a local charity.  Or residents could donate scarecrows.  The population of Gatlinburg is about 4,100.  Will being so much smaller than Burton impact our chances?  According to an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Gatlinburg began the effort in the fall of 2018.  Many local businesses displayed scarecrows and visitors were charmed.  For example, Anakeesta had about 35 scarecrows, and The Holler had nearly 60.  The two tallest scarecrows so far are 9-foot ones in downtown.  In 2019 the efforts will intensify.  The organizers feel that whether they ultimately succeed or not, they are doing something positive for the community.  For more information, contact Jim Downs at [email protected]  

November 5, 2018

Five of the Best Activities in the Great Smoky Mountains

Today’s guest blogger http://www.trip101.com shares five of the best activities to enjoy in the Great Smoky Mountains.  

Perhaps the most renowned mountain range in North America, the Great Smoky Mountains border North Carolina and parts of Tennessee, and offer a virtually unlimited selection of world class outdoor activities.  Opportunities abound across the “Smokies,” an iconic portion of the Appalachian Mountains, where diversified forest ecosystems thrive among untouched and protected spaces alike. From spruce-fir forests to river valleys, the Great Smoky Mountains offers a proven solution for outdoor adventure in the American southeast. Check out our top five activities worth pursuing in the Smoky Mountains, to fill your travel itinerary with easy, lifelong memories.

1. Clingmans Dome

Dedicated hikers and lovers of awe-inspiring sights and sounds will fall easily in love with Clingmans Dome. Welcome to the highest mountain peak in all of the Smoky Mountains, with an elevation of more than 6,600 feet. Venture to the peak of this coniferous environment, for sweeping, uninterrupted

Clingman's Dome is a great activity.

The observation deck of Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains.

panoramas of the surrounding landscapes, together with a simply unmatched sense of accomplishment.

Clingmans Dome is halfway in North Carolina and halfway in Tennessee, and provides hours of hiking enjoyment to dedicated travelers. Drive Clingmans Dome Road, and then take to a rather steep pathway up to the summit itself, fitted with an observation tower for extended viewing enjoyment. When visibility is at its best from the top of Clingmans Dome, you can see for more than one hundred miles in all directions, and into seven individual states. Take in a picture-perfect sunrise or sunset from the peak, and cross-country ski to the destination come wintertime.

2. Cades Cove

Located in Tennessee, well within the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove qualifies as a staple site in the southeastern portion of the United States. The original home to decades-old settlers, Cades Cove is today beloved for its easy access and scenic wildlife surroundings. The historical element of the site alone is enough to satisfy qualifications for the National Register of Historic Places.

A geological “limestone window” defined by dated erosion, Cades Cove is home to rock formations that are more than 400 million years old. Take note of the fact that you must plan ahead if you plan on visiting Cades Cove, given the fact that it is the single-most visited location within the confines of the National Park itself. Home to Cherokee natives, European settlers and now generations of satisfied travelers, Cades Cove offers the unique synthesis of panoramic landscapes and educational immersion alike.

3. Mount Le Conte

For a truly unique Smoky Mountains experience, you need to stop by Mount Le Conte. The pride of Sevier County, Mount Le Conte offers you access to the highest peak housed entirely within the state of Tennessee. Better yet, on the way to the summit you will have ample opportunities to experience more than 5,000 feet worth of forest. The sandstone and the shale that comprise large portions of the

Buckhorn Inn offers views of Mt. LeConte.

Mt. LeConte offers spectacular views.

mountain are easily 450 million years old, if not more.

Annual snowfall at Mount Le Conte totals nearly forty inches per year, so if you plan on visiting this site during the winter you would be advised to dress accordingly. Interestingly, Mount Le Conte is also renowned for its lodge near the summit itself, so if you’re looking for some award-winning hospitality along your way to the mountain’s peak, that’s an opportunity worth pursuing. If you spot a train of llamas trekking alongside of you, don’t be alarmed: llamas deliver supplies to the lodge three times a week during peak operational months. Intermediate hiking conditions and frequent opportunities for photos make the hike up Mount Le Conte worth every second of your investment.

4. Andrews Bald

From the bottom of the mountain to the summit, you can expect an elevation gain of nearly 900 feet, coupled with lasting opportunities for photos and fresh, outdoor air alike. If you’re looking to reach Andrews Bald, you’re going to want to embark on the nearby Forney Ridge Trail, which eventually delivers you to your destination. Well-maintained hiking endeavors and stone steps pave the way to the summit itself, part of a park-wide manicured effort to keep this location easily accessible to all guests.

Andrews Bald is the destination for you if you’re looking to bring the entire family along for the ride. Again, this hike is an all-time favorite among dedicated Smoky Mountains hikers, so you’re going to want to get an early start, and prepare to accommodate other hikers en route to Andrews Bald itself. All in all, the hike’s popularity witnesses to its worth, as a family-friendly, worthwhile endeavor in the Great Smoky Mountains.

5. Roaring Fork

A drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a wonderful activity.

Water stream flowing along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

With a name like Roaring Fork, you know the experience is worth your investment. A stream that cuts through the Great Smoky Mountains in the Volunteer State, Roaring Fork today is the home of both a historic district and a nature trail of the same name. Straight from the Little Pigeon River, the Roaring Fork stream is a must-see in the Great Smoky Mountains. Take the trail direct to the stream, along the way experiencing waterfall background, ample opportunities for relaxation and the chance to take life at a pace comfortable for you. Activities include touring historic sites.  Historically preserved cabins, mills and more will greet satisfied hikers upon arrival, making Roaring Fork an ideal outing, especially for those individuals looking for a quick immersion into local lore.

The Great Smoky Mountains Abound with Family-Friendly Activities

No matter the corner of the Great Smoky Mountains in which you elect to spend your time, the massive acreage allows you to capitalize on authentic outdoor adventure, at a moment’s notice. From the waterfalls of the Andrews Bald trek to the limestone structures of Cades Cove, There’s an outdoor endeavor at the Great Smoky Mountains that can comfortably accommodate anyone’s individual preferences. Provide the entire family with the outing at the Great Smoky Mountains that they deserve, with any one of these five activities virtually guaranteed to deliver lifelong memories outdoors in Tennessee and North Carolina! If you are looking for more destination guides and accommodation reviews, hotels and vacation rentals, check out http://www.trip101.com

June 18, 2018

Anakeesta Offers Magic in the Mountains

We have just discovered Anakeesta!  As busy local innkeepers, we rarely take the time to enjoy the many attractions that appeal to our out-of-town guests.  We are so glad that we recently had the opportunity, thanks to the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, to explore our area’s new aerial theme park.  Anakeesta is a Cherokee word referring to high ground.  It literally means “place of the balsams”.  The word also refers to the massive rock formation that encompasses many of our local mountain peaks:  Charlie’s Bunion, Chimney Tops, and Mount Kephart.  The aerial park is designed to be a mountain playground for all ages.  Bob and Karen Bentz and their family bought more than 55 acres of pristine mountain land in 2014 and proceeded to create their vision.  They are environmentally sound stewards and the attraction offers a family-oriented experience.

What to Do at Anakeesta

The Anakeesta walk through the trees offers beautiful views.

The canopy walk is 40 to 60′ from the forest floor.

We entered via an open-air four-person chair lift.  The other option is an enclosed gondola with a capacity of six.  The ride up 600′ to the summit was beautiful!  We were enchanted by the canopy walk through the trees.  A series of 16 connected sky bridges, 40 to 60′ above the forest floor, offered spectacular views.  While we did not try it out on this visit, we enjoyed watching others on the dueling zipline.  There are several options for dining.  We chose to try out the Cliff Top Grill and Bar.  We enjoyed lingering over our drinks on the outdoor pavilion and admiring the mountain peaks that were the backdrop to our dining experience.  

The south side of the park is located in an area that was badly scorched by the 2016 fire, the most devastating in the state’s history.  A memorial walk pays tribute to the brave men and women who fought the fires and to the resilience of those impacted by the tragedy.

As we strolled to the chair lift to back down the mountain, we admired the cute shops and vowed to come back soon.  For more information, visit http://www.anakeesta.com