Tucked among the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee like a Great Smoky Mountain black bear nestled in its winter den, Gatlinburg has a rich historical heritage. Gatlinburg drew its first settlers, the Ogles of South Carolina, in 1807. Today Gatlinburg’s cabin rentals allow visitors to experience the same natural beauty that lured those early settlers, whose descendants still call the town their home. Continue reading
People make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons. One of the best reasons to make a resolution for 2012 is to have an opportunity to do something this year that is out of the ordinary. One special resolution that you can make is a resolution to find some way to relax more. One way to do that is to take a weekend trip to a cabin in Gatlinburg TN. Continue reading
The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is one of the most romantic places in the world and if you and your partner have been promising each other a quiet weekend away,Timber Tops cabins in Gatlinburg has everything you need to make your Gatlinburg getaway perfect. Whether you are looking for a romantic 2 bedroom chalet in Pigeon Forge or a large rustic lodge in Gatlinburg to host your wedding, Timber Tops cabins has it all. Continue reading
Did you know that the Smoky Mountains has a natural phenomenon that occurs only one other place in the world? For a couple of weeks in early summer in mid June (4ththru the 12th), a rare species of fireflies come into the Smoky Mountains to do synchronized blinking. This species has an internal sensor that lets them know when another firefly is lit. The fireflies can be lit for up to 6 seconds, it creates a wave of blinking lights that is absolutely amazing to see. The only other known location that this happens is in Southeast Asia.
Fireflies are beetles. They take from one to two years to mature from larvae, but will live as adults for only about 21 days. Their light patterns are part of the adulthood mating display. Each species of firefly has characteristic flash pattern that helps its male and female individuals recognize each other. Most species produce a greenish-yellow light; one species has a bluish light. The males fly and flash and the usually stationary females respond with a flash. Peak flashing for synchronous fireflies in the park is normally within a two-week period in mid-June.
The production of light by living organisms is called bioluminescence. Many species of insects and marine creatures are capable of it. Fireflies combine the chemical luciferin and oxygen with the enzyme luciferase in their lanterns (part of their abdomens) to make light. The chemical reaction is very efficient and produces little or no heat.
No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Competition between males may be one reason: they all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps if the males all flash together they have a better chance of being noticed, and the females can make better comparisons. The fireflies do not always flash in unison. They may flash in waves across hillsides, and at other times will flash randomly. Synchronicity occurs in short bursts that end with abrupt periods of darkness.
How can you see them? There are Gatlinburg trolleys that go to Sugarlands VisitorCenter to pick up visitors every 20 minutes starting at 7:00pm. They run June 4th thru the 12th. The fireflies usually start lighting up around 9:30pm. It costs $1.00 per person to ride the trolley. It takes you to the Little River Trailhead at Elkmont. The last trolley back leaves at 11:00pm. No private vehicles are allowed into the Little River Trailhead after 5:00pm, unless you are staying at the campground.
Here are the rules;
- Bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on, a flashlight that is covered in red or blue cellophane to minimize white lights, keep them pointed down and turn them off when you get to your destination.
- Carry a backpack with any refreshments you may need.
- The only amenities available are portapotty’s.
- No pets or alcoholic beverages are allowed.
- If you want to take pictures, don’t use a flash and set your aperture to f11 and take a long exposure on a tripod to get a nice glowing picture.
- Park rangers and volunteers will be around for questions, guided walks and assistance.
- Don’t forget the last trolley leaves at 11:00pm
Cades Cove was once a remote place in the Great Smoky Mountains. Nature abounds here and the loop affords spectacular views of the mountains and fields. Many deer call the Cove home, and many people have seen bear here as well. One of the few ways through the Smokies and into the cove was along Indian trails. Some of those trails were improved into roads. One of those trails was called, appropriately enough, Cades Cove road. The name was later changed to Rich Mountain Road. By either name the road was one of the main routes through the Smokies between Tuckaleechee and Cades Cove.
Rich Mountain Road is about a third of the way around the Cove. It is a one way dirt road that is about 12 miles long that ends up back in Townsend. There are a couple of nice views of the Cove along the drive and can be a good shortcut to get back to civilization. There is another road to explore out of Cades Cove called Parsons Branch Road. This is a one way primitive road that cuts through pristine forest with opportunities to see wildlife and wildflowers as well. There are areas where the creek cuts across the road and some nice waterfalls. It comes out on 129 in the middle of The Dragon.
Though Cades Cove was generally a self sustaining community, pioneers bought things from Maryville such as medicine and remedies such as Camphorated oil, catnip tea, Castor oil, Epsom salts. As time went by, general stores sprang up in Cades Cove where medicine, seeds, sugar, kerosene, yard goods and hardware supplies. Products could be purchased with money or by trading products such as eggs. Still, the larger town of Maryville had a more appealing selection and so the trips from the Cades Cove continued. Many times families would sell chestnuts which grew everywhere in Cades Cove in the 1800’s. Disease eventually killed the trees.
“Kate’s Cove” was the name of Cades Cove originally, after an Indian chief’s wife. The Cove drew the Cherokee Indians back to the area again and again because of its abundant wildlife and good hunting. Later, Cades Cove’s wildlife drew European descent frontiersmen to make it their home. They and their offspring cleared the fertile valley floor and built farms to sustain them. The pioneer’s families lived in Cades Cove for many generations before the cove became part of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Today, Cades Cove is still as full of wildlife as before but draws not hunters, but millions of Smokies visitors.
The Cove has been preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to look much the way it looked in the 1800′s. Once home to a small mountain community whose settlers came from mainly from Virginia, North Carolina and upper eastTennessee, Cades Cove is today the largest open air museum in the entire GreatSmoky Mountain National Park.
There are many primitive buildings to enjoy as you go around Cades Cove, including two churches, some beautiful homestead cabins, corn cribs, various mills, a smokehouse and barns. It has all been preserved the way it would have been back in the 1800’s. Today, the Cove boasts a large campground, stables for riding horses, an amphitheater, a large gift shop and bike rentals. The Cades Cove loop is 11 miles long and runs along a beautiful valley in a loop with mountains surrounding it. It is a favorite for many families and people enjoy the hiking and biking and nature viewing opportunities. It is a great way to take a peek at what life would have been like 200 years ago