Did you know that in 2012 Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported visitation of some 9.6 million people? That once again makes our own backyard the most visited national park in the country. Second place? The Grand Canyon, with a paltry 4.5 million.
Whether your next trip to the Smokies involves staying in a hotel, motel, condo or Tennessee rental cabin, we hope that you find time to make an excursion into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, you can make your travels safe and avoid unnecessary headaches by following these five suggestions from the National Park Service.
A couple of weeks ago, we took a quick look at five Gatlinburg attractions that everyone should put on their vacation itinerary at one point or another. This week, we'll be looking at five Pigeon Forge attractions that rank near the top of the scale. Of course, there are so many great attractions in Pigeon Forge that it's really hard to single out just five, but this will at least get you started narrowing down the vast selection.
What's the old saying? "So much to do, so little time to do it." That expression is usually very fitting when it comes to planning vacation activities. There are so many choices and only so much time (and money) available to squeeze them in. This week, we'll offer a few recommendations for prioritizing Gatlinburg attractions. Of course, the town is packed with great attractions, but here are a few you should consider shuffling to the top of your list.
Designed by three-time Masters and British Open winner Gary Player, Bent Creek Golf Course-located in the Cobbly Nob area of the Great Smoky Mountains-blends in seamlessly with the majestic landscape in which it is situated. Since 1972, Bent Creek has been a Gatlinburg area golf destination thanks to a front nine that's nestled in a mountain valley and a back nine that provides challenging mountain play. The course can appear deceptively simple at first blush, but most who take it on find it to be all they can handle.
Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee have no shortage of options when it comes to vacation lodgings. There are literally hundreds of choices in hotels and motels, cabins and chalets and even condominiums. However, one type of accommodations that often gets overlooked is the bed and breakfast inn. The Smokies area has some of the finest bed and breakfasts in Tennessee, so here are a few reasons that a B&B might be a good selection for your next trip here:
For many people, autumn is a favorite time of year. The air is crisp and pure, and even though most of the leaves have fallen for the season, there are still plenty of reasons to head outdoors for some fun and physical activity. Here are a few suggestions to consider when making travel plans to the Smokies this season.
Designed and built in the early 1970s, this 18-hole course and its accompanying resort amenities are a scenic destination for anyone looking to relax playing golf in the Smokies. Located 40 miles east of Knoxville on a Douglas Lake peninsula, the par-71, 6,700-yard course itself provides golfers with a test of their skills and patience, yet it also gives them the opportunity to score well on each hole. The landscape consists of Bermuda fairways, large bent grass greens and four tee positions on each hole to accommodate any handicap. Rolling hills, challenging bunkers, lakes and streams all come together to challenge golfers while at the same time providing captivating scenery.
Don't let the name fool you; you won't find it in Gatlinburg. You'll actually find this golf course in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Can't explain that one, but we can tell you that the 18-hole course is an oasis in the middle of the city's tourism bustle. The layout consists of challenging, beautifully maintained holes and occupies a section of rolling woodlands that also treats its golfers to great views of the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, Gatlinburg Municipal Golf Course underwent a half-million-dollar renovation in 2007, which involved rebuilding greens and reworking the fairways. The result: a rating as Tennessee's Best Muny Course in the August 2009 issue of Golf Digest and a challenge to a golfer's skills that is also easy on the eyes.
Since 1965, this municipal golf course in Blount County, Tennessee, has been home to 27 holes of challenging, scenic play on the peaceful side of the Smokies. Measuring a total of 9,525 yards, the 27 holes are divided into three nine-hole courses-white, red and orange. The sloping grade of the holes takes advantage of the foothills' rolling terrain, and the Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens help make the course an emerald jewel against the backdrop of the mountains. The presence of water hazards and sand bunkers adds to the challenge level.
This golf course in Townsend, Tennessee, offers challenging golf action and breathtaking mountain scenery and is just a short drive from Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The course is known for its narrow fairways and blind shots, which make it a true test, but golfers are rewarded with outstanding views of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. The Laurel Valley Country Club course measures 5,753 yards from the longest tees, and 70 is par for the course, which has a rating of 68.6 and a slope rating of 120. The course was designed by Edmund B. Ault, ASGCA and opened to the public in 1989.
Patriot Hills Golf Club in Jefferson City, Tennessee, is actually the sister club to nearby Dandridge Golf & Country Club, giving players yet another choice of scenic golf courses near the Great Smoky Mountains. Generally, the course was designed to be a little more challenging than the Dandridge course. Yardage ranges from 4,974 to 6,710 depending on your choice of four tee placements. The par-72, Jerry Hodge-designed course combines Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens and gives players scenic views of English Mountain and the major peaks of the Smokies beyond. The course rating is 72.4, and the slope rating is 126.
River Islands Golf Club, located near Sevierville, Tennessee, has been named one of Golf Digest's top ten Tennessee courses on multiple occasions. Generally, it is considered one of the more scenic golf courses in the Smokies. Built in 1991, this 18-hole, Arthur Hill-designed course ranges from 6,300 to 7,001 yards, depending on your choice of tees. With well-manicured Zoysia fairways and a links-style layout that borders the scenic French Broad River, the course is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a challenge to a golfer's skills. In fact, several small islands in the middle of the channel (hence the course's name) actually come into play on holes 3 through 16 and on 15 and 16. The signature hole, number 3, is a 195-yard par 3 requiring a precision shot from an elevated tee to an island green. Overall, the fairways are open and rolling, while the greens are moderately sloped and elevated.
This municipal golf course in Sevierville, Tennessee was opened by the city for public use in 1994 and was formerly known as Eagles Landing Golf Club. The course benefits from its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, which provide majestic scenery for golfers.The course is adjacent to a major thoroughfare, U.S. Highway 66, the Wilderness Resort, and the Sevierville Events Center.
You should consider it a crime if you visit the Great Smoky Mountains this spring or summer and don't actually go into the Great Smoky Mountains. You'd be surprised how many folks see the sights in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge or Sevierville but don't go anywhere near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't let yourself and your family become one of “those people.”