You haven’t had the true Smoky Mountain experience unless you get off the Pigeon Forge Parkway and into the woods.  There is so much splendor to see in the over 500,000 acres comprising The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  With so many areas waiting to be explored it’s hard to decide which sights to include on your trip.  However, these five Smoky Mountain sights that are truly exceptional highlights of the area.

Check out these five must-see Smoky Mountain sights.

Cades Cove - Smokies

1) Cades Cove

An-11 mile loop surrounds the meandering valleys and climbing mountains of Cades Cove.  Preserved as a reminder of the 19th century, there are historic barns, log cabins and churches in all their wild glory.  Wildlife is abundant in the area so keep an eye out for deer, turkeys, and even bears. 

On top of Clingmans Dome at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

2) Clingman’s Dome

At an elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Smokies.  It’s also the third highest east of the Mississippi River, earning it a place on our list.  A half-mile paved trail takes you to an observation tower, where on a clear day you can see over 100 miles in each direction.


3) Roaring Fork

Options abound at the Roaring Fork nature area.  You can drive the 6-mile one-way loop and view the rushing mountain streams and cascades, glimpses of growth forests, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings.  Trailheads for Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls are found here, too.  Rainbow Falls is a top Smoky Mountain experience and one of the most rewarding hikes you can go on. 

Water Fall, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

4) Deep Creek

Hikers, mountain bikers and fisherman flock to Deep Creek.  An area known for its many waterfalls and streams, the setting creates a lush, green paradise just waiting to be discovered.  View beautiful Deep Creek Falls, and then head out on one of three hikes:  Whank Falls (0.6 mile), Three Waterfalls Loop (2.4 miles), and Deep Creek-Indian Creek Loop (4.4 miles).  Mountain bikers can take advantage of one of the few park trails where bicycles are permitted.  Anglers can cast their reel and see if they can catch a Smoky Mountain trout.

Dawn, from Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, USA

5) Newfound Gap Road

The mountains of the Smokies created a landscape difficult to traverse.   At an elevation of 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The route was first created in 1932, but it’s a lot easier to trek today. Travel this road to sightsee and marvel at the many mountains, variety of forests, deep valleys and spectacular scenery only available in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Without a doubt, the Newfound Gap Road Overlook is one of the best Smoky Mountain sights–especially at dawn. 

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.

Step back in time, to a place where early settlers made their home and nature has been unaltered by modern day. This is Cades Cove Smoky Mountains. Showcasing scenery specific to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the wild nature of the lands and history of the area calls to many. To discover all there is to see and do at this nature preserve, read my guide to touring Cades Cove Smoky Mountains.

Visiting Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

Primary access to Cades Cove is via an 11-mile, one-way loop. This route is the same general path used by the farming community of Cades Cove Smoky Mountains circa 1900. Note that bicyclists can also use this auto-tour path. Also, be sure use the roadside pullouts to take pictures and view wildlife. Generally, the traffic moves fairly swiftly so you can take in the scenic sights without needing to pull over every time.

Cades Cove Smoky Mountains Auto Tour

While auto-touring Cades Cove, you’re treated to the splendor of nature as well as untouched history. Before you go, be sure to pick up a Cades Cove tour pamphlet at the park entrance. It’s an in-depth look at the rich cultural offerings in the area, as well as details on each historic site. In all, there are over 80 historic buildings in the park, ranging from cabins to churches to barns and grist mills. To give you an idea of the offerings, here are a few highlights.

IMG_3611 Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

John Oliver Cabin: John Oliver arrive in Cades Cove Smoky Mountains in 1820 and bought the land his cabin sits on in 1826. His descendants lived in the cabin over the course of the next 100 years, until the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established.

IMG_3672 Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

Methodist Church: Can you believe this church was built in 115 days for $115? J.D. McCampbell completed the task in 1902, replacing a log building that had served as the church since the 1820s.

IMG_3748 Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

John P. Cable Grist Mill:  Built in the 1870s, the grist mill at Cades Cove still stands at its original site. Even more extaordinary—it is still operational.

Browse through the full slide show above to view even more of the incredible scenery found at Cades Cove.

Wildlife Viewing at Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: Cades Cove is known for its white-tailed deer, turkey and bear population. The open valleys of the cove make wildlife viewing easy. Just be sure to never get too close, especially with bears. This is not a zoo and these animals are, indeed, wild.

Recreation at Cades Cove Smoky Mountains

As previously mentioned, biking riding is available at Cades Cove. Rent a bike at the Cades Cove Campground Store (Adults: $7.50/hr, Children $4.50/hr.) The loop road is closed to motor vehicles until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. It’s the perfect time to see the rugged beauty of nature—all while getting a workout! Another recommended activity is hiking to Abrams Falls. The five-mile roundtrip hike meanders along a Creekside ridge before arriving at the picturesque falls. At a height of 20-feet, it might not sound impressive but the large volume of water more than makes up for it. It’s truly one of the best waterfall hikes in the Smokies.

Now that you’ve seen all that Cades Cove has to offer, I’m sure you’ve added it to your upcoming Pigeon Forge vacation. Once you visit, you’ll fall in love just as so many others before you.

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.

Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains is a beautiful time of year.  The mountains and valleys are painted with stunning colors that light up the Smokies.  Curious about when you should visit Pigeon Forge to see the magnificent Fall colors?  Use our Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage peak color guide for helpful tips on when to go and what to do. 

The color in the National Park is varied as there are over 100 varieties of native trees, creating a kaleidoscope of color. As early as mid-September, you’ll be able to see color changes in trees above 4,000 feet, with the peak colors present at middle and lower elevations between mid-October and early November.

Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage


Fall in the Smokies begins in September, with the emerging changes occurring above 4,000 feet. Red, orange and yellow colors can be seen on sourwood, dogwood, maple, sassafras and birch trees.  Drives recommended for September viewing are Parsons Branch Road, Newfound Gap Road and Clingmans Dome Road.

Suggested hikes for seeing the Smoky Mountain foliage in September
Andrews Bald
Mt. LeConte
Albright Grove

Suggested auto tours for foliage in September
Parson Branch Road

Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage


Early October

Be the beginning of October the mountains of the Smokies are awash in brilliant color.  To see the bold yellows of the American beech and yellow birch to the rich reds on mountain ash, pin cherry and mountain maple trees, the viewing is best on roads including Newfound Gap Road, Heintooga Ridge Road, Foothills Parkway and Rich Mountain Road in Cades Cove.

Suggested hikes for seeing the Smoky Mountain foliage in early October
Sugarland Mountain Trail
Appalachian Trail
Clingmans Dome
Newfound Gap Trail

Suggested auto tours for foliage in early October
Newfound Gap Road
Heintooga Ridge Road
Foothills Parkway West and East
Rich Mountain Road

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


In mid-October, the Great Smoky Mountains are about a week away from peak color of the lower elevations.  However, the valleys and higher elevations are at a peak.  They are painted with bold reds from black gum, dogwoods, sumac and sourwood trees and golds from the tulip tree, black walnut, birch, beech and hickories.   Recommended scenic drives include Cove Creek Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Foothills Parkway and Newfound Gap Road.

Suggested hikes for seeing the Smoky Mountain foliage in mid-October
Lower Mount Cammerer
Baskins Creek Falls
Little River
Old Settlers
Porters Creeks Trails
Sugarland Mountain Trail
Low Gap Trail
Appalachian Trail
Mt. Sterling Trail
Goshen Prong Trail

Suggested auto tours for foliage in mid-October:
Newfound Gap Road
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Balsam Mountain Road
Cove Creek Road

Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage

Late October

The peak colors are very impressive in late October.   From low to high elevations, the marvelous colors of fall can be seen through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It is not unusual to see autumn color last through the mid-November.  Suggested drives are Blue Ridge Parkway, Foothills Parkway and Heintooga Ridge Road to Balsam Mountain. 

Suggested hikes for seeing the Smoky Mountain foliage in late October
Rainbow Falls Trail
Alum Cave Trail
Rich Mountain LoopChestnut Top Trail
Smokemont Loop
Kanati Fork
Sutton Ridge Overlook

Suggested auto tours for foliage in late October
Blue Ridge Parkway
Foothills Parkway
Balsam Mountain Road
Heintooga Ridge Road
Newfound Gap Road

Plan a Pigeon Forge Fall Foliage Vacation

Reserve a Smoky Mountain vacation today to experience the beauty of Pigeon Forge fall foliage. There are a wide range of Pigeon Forge vacation packages available or you can create your own package.  Either option allows you to see the splendor of the Smokies in all their beauty. 

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.

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.


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.

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 Pigeon Forge, so you can easily access the best fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

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.

Every other year, my family gets together in Pigeon Forge for a family reunion. With 50 of us and counting, we found that hotels are not ideal for a group of our size. Instead, a Pigeon Forge cabin vacation is the perfect solution.

Pigeon Forge offers many types of cabins, from cozy a cabin for a couple on their honeymoon to massive cabins able to host 50 or more people.

Before you start planning your trip, use this guide for a spectacular Pigeon Forge cabin vacation.

Pigeon Forge Cabin Vacation

Research Your Cabin Options

In life, a little research can go a long way. The last thing you want is to blindly reserve a cabin, only to find it doesn’t meet your expectations.

Hearthside_Cabin_Rentals_(011)Consider the following factors before making your cabin reservation:

The Season
— Pigeon Forge experiences a surge of tourist traffic during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. If you plan to visit the area during these busy months, book your cabin well in advance. Otherwise, you’ll have a limited selection of cabins to choose from.
Necessary Amenities
— Does your cabin need to have specific accommodations? Many Pigeon Forge cabins are wheelchair accessible, pet-friendly, offer Wi-Fi, and include other amenities. If you have questions about cabin amenities, a quick call to the company or owners will provide your answer.

Your Budget — Establishing a budget is the best way to find a cost-effective cabin. Shop around for cabins that fit your budget and offer the necessary amenities you need for a wonderful vacation.

Cabin Location — Some cabins are tucked back into the serene and calm woods of Pigeon Forge with long travel times to attractions. Families looking for quick access to Dollywood and other attractions should consider the location of their cabin before making a reservation.

Bluff_Mountain_Rentals_(021)Your Car — During one Pigeon Forge cabin vacation, our cabin was at the top of a steep hill with a long gravel driveway. The larger, more powerful vehicles made it up the driveway just fine. My little sedan, however, did not. Before booking, consider the type of car you own and the terrain traveled to access the cabin. The cabin company can provide this information if is not online.

Cabin Reviews — Before booking your Pigeon Forge cabin, hear what others have to say about the cleanliness of the cabin, the customer service provided by the company, and any other opinions from previous travelers. Remember to take reviews with a grain of salt. What may have been an awful experience for one traveler, may be completely fine for you. By booking your cabin through Reserve Direct, you can read reviews from travelers who have recently stayed in one of Pigeon Forge’s many cabins.

Once you’ve found a great cabin for you and your family, it’s time to decide if cabin vacations are best for you.

The Advantages of Vacationing in a Pigeon Forge Cabin

Staying in a cabin can provide a wealth of benefits for your family or group.

Pigeon Forge cabin vacation porchCost — Whether you’re traveling with your significant other or a large group of people, you will find that cabin vacations are a cost-effective option. Many travelers prefer cabins to hotels because of the low cost for luxury amenities.

Included Amenities – All Pigeon Forge cabins include incredible amenities. The cabins I’ve stayed in have included full kitchens, hot tubs, stocked game rooms, indoor movie theaters (seriously), complimentary Wi-Fi, Jacuzzi tubs, and more. You won’t find all this in a similarly priced hotel room.

Privacy —By renting a cabin, you now have an entire house to yourself. The only people who can bother you are the people you chose to vacation with. Say goodbye to hearing the TV from the hotel room next door or little children running up and down the hotel hallways.

Downtime — When you have downtime in a hotel, you might watch TV, go for a swim if a pool is onsite, or buy an overpriced drink at the bar. When you reserve a cabin, there’s so much to enjoy inside and outside of the cabin. I’ve found that I enjoy the time inside the cabin just as much as I enjoy exploring Pigeon Forge.   

Quiet Time — Where else can you drink a freshly made cup of coffee while watching the sunrise over the mountains from the comfort of your rocking chair? Some of my favorite Pigeon Forge memories involve a cabin porch, a cup of coffee, and long conversations with family and friends. A hotel continental breakfast or bar doesn’t have the same allure.

The Disadvantages of a Pigeon Forge Cabin Vacation

As with any vacation lodging option, cabins do have their downfalls.

Hearthside_Cabin_Rentals_(020)Cooking Meals — Pigeon Forge cabins offer full kitchens complete with many cooking appliances. While the majority of travelers find this appealing, others find it to be a nuisance. If you would rather have meals prepared for you by professionals, you will be better off in a hotel.

Made a Mess? Clean It Up. — In a hotel, your towels and bed sheets are replaced daily. Cabins provide guests with washers and dryers, but a cleaning service won’t take care of your messes every day. It’s up to you and your guests to ensure the cabin is clean and tidy.

Limited Main Road Access to Attractions — If you prefer in the middle of the action, a hotel would be better suited for your Pigeon Forge vacation. Cabins take advantage of the quiet Smoky Mountain nature and tend to be away from the main roads.

Limited Cell Service — Depending on your cell phone provider, you may or may not have service at your cabin. While cabin companies and owners cannot control this, it’s good to be aware.

A Few Tips for the Road

Once you’ve booked your cabin, it’s time to hit the road and enjoy your vacation. Over the course of my many Pigeon Forge vacations, I’ve picked up a few tips that will make your cabin visit worthwhile.

Hearthside_Cabin_Rentals_(006)Plan Your Meals — Personally, I love to take advantage of the cabin kitchens. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can make a quick grocery shopping trip upon arriving to Pigeon Forge. Trust me, there’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal in a comfy cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains. Plus, you’ll save money by not relying on a restaurant for every meal and snack.

Stock Up on Cleaning Supplies — While many cabin companies and owners generously provide enough supplies for your stay, it’s in your best interest to be prepared. Supplies can be depleted fast when vacationing with a big group of people.

Bring Games and Activities — If you’re traveling with friends or a large group of people, game nights in the cabin are the best. Bring outdoor activities such as a soccer ball or lawn game to keep the fun going.

Remember Your Cabin Address — In the off chance that you become lost, it’s good to always remember your cabin address.

No matter the cabin size you reserve, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your Pigeon Forge cabin vacation if you follow this guide.

The quaint town of Pigeon Forge is known for its family friendly fun. Between the outdoor activities available at The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and attractions teeming with entertainment it’s easy to please the whole family on your vacation – including your children. If you’re searching for the best things to do in Pigeon Forge for kids read on.


Kids hiking in the mountains in Italy. Little girl and boy sitting on the grass and looking at the Italian mountains.

Explore the Smoky Mountains

There are over 500,000 acres to explore in the Smokies, and almost as many ways to make the experience uniquely yours. Several easy hikes, such as Laurel Falls, give you a glimpse of the beauty of the mountains while not being too strenuous for the kiddos. Plus, they usually have more energy than mom and dad anyway! You can also hitch a ride on a horse at outfits like Sugarland Riding Stables. Giddy up and take to the trails on a gentle mare to see some of scenic sights of the Smokies.

River_Romp_Tubes_and_Kayaks_Rentals_(002)Make a Splash Rafting or Tubing

You might think white water rafting is too much adventure for your kids. Don’t worry, though, as Pigeon Forge rafting companies offer a trip on the lower Pigeon River ideal for families. The 5 ½ mile rafting trip runs about 50 class I and II rapids, with one class III at the very end. With calm waters, and just enough rapids to make a splash, kids ages 3 and up can go on this float. Another super fun thing to do is tubing the river. River Romp and River Rat offer affordable ways for families to enjoy old-fashioned river tubing. Along the way you’ll find swimming holes and rope swings. So. Much. Fun.


Families with kids of all ages will find something to love at Dollywood. There are roller coasters like Wild Eagle ideal for big kids, and traditional fair rides for little ones at the Country Fair section of the park. Make sure you visit during the Great American Summer Festival for even more kid-themed fun. The Smoky Mountain theme park has extended operating hours during this festival and features nightly fireworks, special shows and fun geared just for kids.

DOLLYWOOD_S_SPLASH_COUNTRY_(002)Dollywood’s Splash Country

Cool off during your vacation at the only waterpark in the Smoky Mountains. Add aquatic adventure to your day on attractions like RiverRush or take it easy and lounge in the lazy river. The Cacades are a favorite of kids as the lagoon area has over 25 interactive water features. Get ready for a splash battle! The 35 acres of water park fun is the perfect way to cool off on a hot Tennessee day. From mild to wild thrills, Splash Country is a place where families can dive into summer fun.

Become a Junior Ranger

Kids ages 5-12 can become a Junior Ranger on their Pigeon Forge vacation. Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at any park visitor center. Complete the activities in the booklet then return to the visitor center, talk to a ranger and receiver your Junior Ranger badge. The Junior Ranger badge is available any time of year. In every season but winter Junior Ranger programs designed especially for children are offered as well.

Ripley_s_Aquarium_of_the_Smokies_(021)Ripley’s Aquarium

Immerse yourself in the aquatic wonders of Ripley’s Aquarium. Even though you might be miles from the sea this attraction deftly navigates the waters of our world, highlighting a variety of species and exotic sea creatures. My favorite element is the Shark Lagoon, which includes a 340-foot underwater tunnel. Hop on the glidepath through the tunnel and gawk at the stingrays, sawfish, tarpons, sharks, eels and more. Interactive and educational exhibits challenge children while keep their interests. Be sure to touch a stingray and pose with a penguin during your trip.


Kids of all ages find WonderWorks to be engaging, entertaining and educational. Dubbed an amusement park for the mind, the attraction lets you experience an earthquake and hurricane, design your own roller coaster, explore outer space, ride an extreme 360 bike and so much more. There’s even a ropes course and laser tag course where families can challenge each other.


Are any of your kids Harry Potter fans? Then MagiQuest is for them. Using a magic wand visitor’s journey through an interactive magical adventure. Various challenges, puzzles and brave feats let you advance through levels, gaining skill and knowledge along the way. Plus, you can purchase your wand and keep it for return visits to MagiQuest locations across the nation. It remembers everything you accomplish so you can keep playing for years!

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.

Autumn is one of the best times to hike in the Smoky Mountains.  Laurel Falls, which is an easy 30 minute drive from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a popular trail and attraction.  The distance of the hike is fairly short at 2.6 miles round trip, rated low on the degree of difficulty scale and can be completed in about 90 minutes.  Plus, during your hiking excursion you’ll see the 80-foot high Laurel Falls – magnificent sight to see, especially following a recent rain. 

Trailhead Access for Laurel Falls:  Head east into Gatlinburg towards the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  Turn right onto Little River Road and continue for 3.5 miles.  Parking for the trailhead is on the right. 

The Hike: Since Laurel Falls is one of the most frequented sights in the Smokies, the National Park Service has paved the trail.  As such, the path is frequented by families with small children and strollers.  If you arrive early you’ll miss the crowds but you can easily navigate the trail despite the stroller traffic.

Laurel Falls_185113678When you began the hike, the trail follows Little River Road.  Rising slowly until it begins to double back along the mountain ridge giving hikers impressive mountain views.  The final portion of the trail ascends to the falls and has some steep drop-offs.  If you do bring your kids, keep an eye on them and always follow safe hiking practices.  Throughout the hike, you’ll pass by pine oaks, maples, tulip trees and dogwoods, as well as the namesake of the waterfall – the mountain laurel bush.  Soon enough, though, Laurel Falls appears in all its glory.

Laurel Falls consists of an upper and a lower section, divided by a walkway known as Laurel Branch which crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls.  After you soak up the views of the cascading 80-foot falls you can choose to continue on another 2.7 miles to the old fire tower atop Cove Mountain.  Plan on spending five hours hiking, total, if you add this extra loop to your adventure.

A few things to keep in mind during your Laurel Falls hike.  The parking area does fill up quickly, especially during summer, so arrive early to beat the crowds.  For photographs of the falls, avoid the lower portion of the trail on weekends.  Generally, this area is too crowded to get the shot you want.  Hike a bit above the falls for other photographing opportunities.  Plan your hike for early in the morning or late in the day, too, for the best photo-shooting conditions. The shade of the day will produce much better pictures than ones captured at high noon.

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.

Attention all nature enthusiasts! Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is hosting Wilderness Wildlife Week May 18-22, 2016. This event features eight days of free activities designed to connect Pigeon Forge visitors with the great outdoors.

Guiding lightThroughout the week there are more than a dozen seminars, lectures and hands-on workshops. Visitors will be able to learn from more than 100 experts during these events. There are also more than 50 guided hikes and walks planned, designed for all levels of expertise and intensity.

Locations for guided hikes  and excursions include:

  • Abrams Falls
  • Andrews Bald
  • Albright Grove
  • Cades Cove
  • Charlies Bunion
  • Cosby
  • Elkmont
  • Grotto Falls
  • Mt. LeConte/Alum Cave


Laurel Falls_185113678You can check out the full hiking schedule by clicking here.

The photography contest continues in 2016 as well. Categories include:

  • Amateur
  • Professional
  • Wildlife
  • Landscapes/Seascapes
  • Youth & Young Adults (ages 17 and under)
  • Great Smoky Mountain Landmarks
  • Nature’s Wonders in Black & White


You can enter the photo contest here.

During the class and seminar portion of the event, you can learn about varied subjects such as bears in the Smokies, bird watching, the elk reintroduction project, the Smokies’ logging history, fire towers in the Smokies, close-up photography, trout fishing and birding by ear. Several programs are designed especially for children. The Kids Track is full of activity-based workshops, providing a fun-filled way to learn about nature. Review the Wilderness Wildlife schedule and plan your week now.

The headquarters for Wilderness Wildlife Week will be located at the LeConte Center. This event is the perfect way to explore the Smoky Mountain Wilderness as there is a full schedule of outdoor recreational activities planned that highlights the rustic beauty of the Smokies.

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.

Greatsmokymtns_iStock_000013293422XSmallIf you’re looking to get away for Labor Day, consider the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. These two beautiful cities are tucked into the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offer an exciting mix of indoor and outdoor activities. With a splendid selection of shopping, shows, attractions and outdoor adventures, a getaway for Labor Day in the Smokies is the perfect way to enjoy your time away from work.

When you first arrive in Tennessee, you’ll notice the rolling mountains and blue skies that go on forever. You’ll also notice several signs pointing your way to shows like the Dixie Stampede and Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show. Pigeon Forge shows are very popular, and with good reason. Whether you enjoy dinner and a show, a little bit of rock ‘n roll or a bit of country, there is a show to fit your style. New shows to the scene include Smoky Mountain Opry, Blast From the Past and Imagination on Sand.

Hatfield___McCoy_Dinner_Show_(007)Attractions in Pigeon Forge offer a mix of fast paced excitement and interesting exhibits. For those looking for speed this Labor Day, visit Lazerport Funcenter, NASCAR Speedpark and Speed Zone Go-Kart Tracks. A more leisurely way to experience the area is by visiting Scenic Helicopter Tours. This Pigeon Forge attraction takes visitors up, up and away, where they soar above the clouds to beautiful areas such as Douglas Lake and the Foothills.

Gatlinburg is home to a myriad of Ripley’s attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Aquarium and Ripley’s Moving Theater. These exceptional attractions offer a little bit of something for everyone, and something no one will want to miss. Other things to do in Gatlinburg include a rafting adventure. Several outfitters run the Pigeon River; a few of our recommendations include Smoky Mountain Outdoors and Rafting in the Smokies.

The_Track_(012)With the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you’ll certainly want to explore your beautiful surroundings. Several outdoor activities and scenic spots are at your doorstep, including Clingman’s Dome, Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap Overlook, Cades Cove and Grotto Falls. You can also go horseback riding in the Smokies and visit historic homesteads and mills.

Of course, when you get away for Labor Day it’s important to have a nice place to stay. With two great cities so close together, you’ll have your options wide open. Lodging in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg provide quality yet affordable facilities. There are motels, hotels, cabins and condominiums to choose from. Cherokee Lodge, Margaritaville Hotel, RiverStone Resort, Oak Tree Lodge, and Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort are just a few of the places to stay in the Smokies.

This Labor Day Weekend, treat yourself to something a little bit country and a little bit city. With such a great combination of activities to choose from, you’ll be glad you visited the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains for your Labor Day Getaway!

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.

nps-logoDid you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2014?  If so, you’re one of the 10 millions to do so.  This is the fourth time 80 years the park welcomed such a large number of guests, and the first time since 2000.

In 2014, 10,099,275 visitors enjoyed the national park, an 8% increase over 2013. The numbers were spurred by strong July and August visitation as well as the highest October visitation in 27 years.

Increased visitation also led to increased camping in the park. Front country camping at all of the park’s developed campgrounds increased to 287,164 up 13.7% over 2013. In addition, backcountry camping also increased significantly with over 86,153 visitors (11.3% more than 2013) spending a night at one of the park’s backcountry campsites or shelters.

“We are honored to welcome so many people to the Smokies to enjoy America’s most visited national park,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “As we prepare to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, we look forward to continuing to protect the resources of this special place and provide opportunities for discovery as people experience the park along a trail, river, or scenic roadway.”

Visitation was up nearly every month in 2014. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has welcomed over ten million people in one year four times: 1987, 1999, 2000, and 2014. The highest annual visitation on record was set in 1999 when 10,283,598 people visited the national park.