Cabins in Pigeon Forge OPEN FOR BUSINESS after Gatlinburg Fires!
Almost everyone in the United States watched with horror as fire engulfed the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee last November. While the devastation was immense, it was not enough to defeat the hardy people of these mountains. Instead of sinking in despair, the residents of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN fought back and the area is once again thriving and ready for this year’s tourist season. Cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge are thriving and yes, there are changes, but for the most part, the Smoky Mountains and surrounding area are open for business and can’t wait to welcome you back.
The wildfire that raged through the area last year burned more than 17,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It cost 14 lives and destroyed numerous homes and businesses in the Gatlinburg area. Gatlinburg survived. The business district is intact and those visitor favorites such as the Space Needle, Ripley’s Aquarium, Ober Gatlinburg and the many theaters are open and operating at full capacity.
Open For Business
If you love the Smoky Mountains and the wonderful people of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the best thing you can do to help is to visit. Don’t let fear keep you away. Your favorite shows are still there and you can get your fix of watching cowboys rounding up longhorn cattle and buffalo at the Dixie Stampede or marvel at the skills of the players in the Lumberjack Adventure.
Lodging is plentiful in the area. Almost all of the mountain cabins that serve as vacation lodging for visitors survived and are in good shape for this season. There are even some great pet friendly cabins in pigeon forge tn so you can bring Fido along for the Smoky Mountain fun.
The truth is that while the fire was devastating, most businesses in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg didn’t even miss a beat. This is a testament to the resilience of these mountain people.
Gatlinburg Wants Your Business
At one time during the fire, the entire mountainside behind the Gatlinburg Inn was on fire. This is the city’s oldest hotel and one of its most popular. Built in 1937, it sits on the Gatlinburg Parkway and guests have included Lady Bird Johnson and Liberace. It is known as the place where the song “Rocky Top” was first written and it is open for visitors.
There is very little evidence of the fire remaining in Gatlinburg. Some shops and businesses suffered smoke damage, but all are back in business and ready to serve their customers.
Even the Arromont School of Arts and Crafts will hold workshops and classes this summer. The fire took three of the school’s buildings, but that isn’t stopping this artistic community.
Fortunately, the heart of Gatlinburg’s Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community saw very little damage. This collection of shops, studios and galleries is located along the Tennesee Heritage Loop, an eight-mile experience that allows visitors to see and purchase works from some of the best artisans in the country.
While Gatlinburg had some fire damage, the fire never got close to the Pigeon Forge Parkway which is the heart of this town’s tourism. All businesses are open and operating.
So Does Pigeon Forge
Dollywood, one of the premier tourist destinations in the country, opened for business on the first weekend in December. All other entertainment venues and attractions are open for business and hope visitors come in droves this summer.
Locals will tell you there is no visible difference in the area. Everything looks just like it did before the fire. This means families who have been visiting the area for generations can still throw rocks into the same creeks and fish in the same rivers. They can raft and swim and hike just like always. They can camp in the national park and there is not even a ban on campfires.
For the entire area, residents and local officials alike are emphasizing that they are open and welcome visitors. The area’s primary industry is tourism so getting people to visit is how this area will recover completely.
Recovering From An Interrupted Season
The wildfires started in November of last year, smack dab in the middle of the Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration. This annual holiday festival attracts visitors from all over the world. When the fires began, some businesses had to shut down and people evacuated. The city reopened on December 9th and visitors once again began flowing in.
While the Christmas Parade held during the Gatlinburg Winter Magic was canceled, all other events scheduled for the Smoky Mountains Winter Magic Tunes & Tales went on as scheduled. These included storytelling, free entertainment, and caroling both Friday and Saturday nights. The town kept all the Christmas displays lit and the event went on as planned.
On New Year’s Eve, more than 50,000 visitors were in downtown Gatlinburg to see the Ball Drop and the fireworks show. This visitor support is so important to keeping the area’s tourist industry strong and growing.
Visitors to the Smoky Mountains area will find new attractions to try. There are also new places to dine and new lodging options available.
Anakeesta, an outdoor adventure attraction opened this summer. Visitors can take a gondola or chairlift from Chondola Station to Anakeesta Mountain. There, they can test their skills at the Aerial Adventure Park. The entire complex covers 72 acres and includes shopping and dining in Firefly Village on the top of the mountain and another shopping complex right next to Chondola Station. Visitors can also enjoy a tree canopy walk, a mountain coaster, and scenic overviews. For the more adventurous, a racing zip line is available. There is also a fun children’s playground.
New lodging includes several new inns that are located within walking distance of the Gatlinburg Parkway. Choices include the Holiday Inn Express, the Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn, and Fairfield Suites. There is a new Margaritaville Resort, along with a Landshark Restaurant scheduled to open next year.
New options for dining include the Gatlinburg Brewing Company, Farmer’s Burger Barn, and Maddog’s Creamery and Donuts. Also scheduled to open this summer is Mama’s Farmhouse.
Planning Your Trip To The Great Smoky Mountains
As summer begins to heat up, it’s time to start planning your trip back to the Great Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge stand ready to entertain and delight you and your family. There are so many things to see and do in this beautiful area, so here are some of our recommendations.
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede
Known as the best place to eat in the Smokies, the Dixie Stampede is an evening of fun, laughter, and song. During the show, visitors can delight in the fun-filled competition and cheer on their side. They will enjoy a feast of good Southern food while watching the incredible Color Me America show. This patriotic and uplifting show was written and recorded by Dolly Parton and is sure to bring a tear to more than one eye in the arena.
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures
This is another dinner and show and is good for all ages. The show is about Dolly’s family story and visitors get a wonderful insight into her childhood and upbringing. Visitors can root for their side, either the Owens or the Partons as they relive the Mountain Family Contests.
Guests are also fed a mouthwatering array of food featuring fried chicken, pulled pork, and homemade biscuits. If you’ve never had a down-home country meal, you’ll delight everything on the table.
Voted Show of the Year and the Best Live Country Show in America, Country Tonite is two hours of high-energy entertainment. Country artists blend dancing and humor as they perform today’s country hits and great country classics. The entertainers are chosen from all over the United States and perform hilarious skills and toe-tapping music.
One of the unique characteristics about Country Tonite is that this is the only show in the area that features youth performers. This makes it a one-of-a-kind experience.
Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies
In Gatlinburg, visitors can view more than 10,000 aquatic animals. The aquarium is home to marine animals from all over the world. There are also more than 350 different species of wildlife on exhibit and tourists can walk through the Ocean Realm, the Tropical Rain Forest, the Shark Lagoon, the Coral Reef, the Sting Ray Bay, and the Gallery of the Seas.
Children and adults alike will enjoy petting a sting ray and crawling through the Penguin Playhouse underwater tunnels while marine creatures swim and dive overhead. In keeping with Ripley’s reputation for displaying oddities from all over the world, the aquarium also has sea nettles and cuttlefish, two of the strangest sea creatures alive.
Soul Of Motown
Not everything is about country music in the Smokies. The Soul of Motown is an energetic tribute to some of the best of the Motown legends. Visitors will find themselves moving to the music of these groups including The Platters, The Temptations, Harold Melvin, The Drifters, The Commodores, The Blue Notes, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Guests end up dancing in the aisles as they are taken back in time to the grooving dance moves and music of Motown.
This attraction is upside down from the start! Visitors experience a variety of natural phenomena and try their hand at defeating Nature’s best. Guests visiting the Quake Cafe experience an earthquake that is 5.3 on the Richter scale and withstand powerful winds in Hurricane Hole.
If they are brave enough, they can lay on the Bed of Nails which contains almost 4,000 real nails. Visitors can try their hand at landing a space shuttle, scaling a rock wall, and designing and riding their own roller coaster. The entire experience is interactive and provides an incredible experience for all ages.
If your family is competitive, try out Laser-Tag. Friends and families alike compete against each other or as teams in this black light maze. They have fun trying to outshoot, outplay and outlast their opponents.
Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram
This is one of the best ways to see the entire area and is fun for all ages. The trams leave from downtown Gatlinburg every twenty minutes and the view from the tram is breathtaking. Each car holds 120 passengers and an attendant. Visitors can take the tram to enjoy the views or to reach other attractions and activities.
Dollywood Theme Park
No visit to the Smokies is complete without a stop at Dollywood. This is a world-class theme park featuring great shows, fun rides, and an incredible waterpark. Guests can soar through the air, splash through an afternoon or eat their way through a several course dinner and never leave the park.
Depending on when you visit, you can enjoy one of the many major festivals hosted at Dollywood throughout the year. In the spring, the Festival of Nations celebrates international dance, music, and song. In late May, the Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival pays tribute to the history and heritage of bluegrass in the mountains. Guests can also enjoy the superb smoked barbeque while they listen to incredible bluegrass music.
In the fall, the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration features visiting crafters and free concerts. Christmas is a special time in the Smokies and the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood features four million lights, amazing food, and an incredible Christmas Show.
Pigeon River Activities
During the summer, guests can enjoy white water rafting on the Pigeon River. While floating down the either the upper or lower parts of the river, guests can enjoy incredible views as they meander along the borders of the Cherokee National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, and the Smoky Mountains National Park.
For the really adventurous, the Zipline Canopy Tour offers an aerial view of the river, Family Adventure Island and the spectacular fauna and flora of the mountains. Zip lining is an exciting way to see the area and will be an experience of a lifetime.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN are excited about the summer tourist season. Everything is open and visitors are welcome to enjoy the beauty and adventure that awaits them in the Great Smoky Mountains!