From sunsets to craft fairs, there’s beauty in the mountains of Gatlinburg
When the Tennessee hills turn into the Smokies, the curves in the road get sharper and you’re forced to slow down. The leisurely drive offers something that interstate travel often can’t—a view. Look out your window and you’ll discover lush greenery haloed by morning fog, sloped peaks that stretch for miles, and curious wildlife—and there’s no better place to soak in the beauty of East Tennessee than Gatlinburg.
Though the hiking trails are well known, you can also explore the scenery without ever leaving your car. Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a five mile loop through the hard-wood forest, past rushing streams, and by well-preserved, historic cabins. Nearby, alongside Roaring Fork creek, Ely’s Mill is a piece of “Old Gatlinburg.” Built in the late 1920’s, you can find local crafts, antiques, and seasonal honey at the mill.
One of the most stunning scenes is the drive to Newfound Gap. The road—a stretch of 31 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—takes you through the Sugarlands and right to the North Carolina border. Over the driving tour, you’ll climb over 3,000 feet, passing hiking trails and photo-worthy sights along the way. Stop just south of Newfound Gap for a hike to Clingman’s Dome. It’s a steep walk, but the payoff is a 360º view of the Smokies from the highest point in Tennessee.
The city’s natural beauty inspires its vibrant arts and crafts scene. The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is located on an eight mile loop designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. Along the stretch of road alone, there’s over 100 working artists and craftsmen. With talented carvers, weavers, watercolor artists, casters, soap makers, potters, silversmiths and more, there is an abundance of unique gifts to peruse.
If the fresh mountain air sparks your creativity, you can sign up for Create Your Own Classes. The classes offer a hands-on experience with crafts like glass blowing and pottery. The best part? You get to take your creations home with you!
Twice a year, in the summer and the fall, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair takes over the downtown Gatlinburg Convention Center. Over 200 skilled craftspeople share their work, plus there’s live music on each day of the event. You can easily spend a full day exploring the fair and discovering your new favorite artisan!
After a day of sight-seeing and shopping, you can settle into a cozy cabin that is just as scenic! Nestled in the trees, the quiet cabins offer the ultimate relaxing experience. There’s no better way to start your morning than sipping on a cup of coffee while looking out over the hazy mountain sunrise.
Fulfill your childhood dreams at the Treehouse Grove at Norton Creek. The eight treehouses are located right by Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With wraparound balconies, you can become truly immersed in the flora and fauna.
Camp LeConte Luxury Campground, just four miles from downtown Gatlinburg, offers campers, safari tents, “vintage” campers, RV hookups, and so much more! The campground has a heated pool and a playground. There is also a convenient trolly stop at the campground to take you to and from downtown.
Whether it’s photo-worthy views or heirloom-worthy crafts, what you discover in Gatlinburg will stay with you forever. Plan your visit and make a lifetime of memories—The Mountains are Calling.