Summer in the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains really come into full bloom during the summer months. Appalachian vistas as far as the eye can see are on display and really draw in visitors far and wide to the region. It's at this time that the surrounding East Tennessee hills are covered in a dense, lush Appalachian foliage made up of many plant and tree species unlike anywhere else in North America. The
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is, without a doubt, in its most vibrant state between May and September. Therefore, it's no surprise that during the months of May through August tourists flock to the area more than at any other four month period during the year.
Native animal species such as deer, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, and the black bear can all be seen during these months by hikers and campers alike. It's quite a sight to been seen in the summer with activity between the animals and plants in full display for everyone. Visitors to Tennessee can take in scenes like these by foot (there are hundreds of walking and hiking trails featured within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries), by car (there are numerous scenic drives such as the one along the famous Newfound Gap Road), and by water (take in a white-water rafting adventure or kayak down the picturesque Little Pigeon River).
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while it may be the star of the show, certainly isn't East Tennessee's only draw during the summer months. The locales of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend join in on this all-natural seasonal celebration of Appalachian life. During the year Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville join hands to co-host area-wide events and celebrations of festival proportion. One of these regional gatherings so happens to be the Smoky Mountain Springfest Festival. At the beginning of June, the Springfest Festival is wrapping up with grand finale events in each of the aforementioned Smoky Mountain cities.
While we're on the topic of festivals, summer begins in Gatlinburg with the entertaining MountainFest Festival. MountainFest is a tribute to the rich heritage of Smoky Mountain culture. The celebration kicks off in early June starting with mountain music performances and Smoky Mountain artisans displaying and selling their work. It certainly draws a crowd seeing these arts and crafts made right before your eyes. The skills and knowledge obtained by these craftspeople are passed down from generation to generation. Of course, a celebration of Smoky Mountain culture like MountainFest just wouldn't be complete without a sampling of the area's delectable cuisine! During the festival's entirety, local culinary favorites like onion-topped fried taters, deep fried beans, cornbread and fried green tomatoes are available to taste and purchase at the event. Be prepared to be blown away by these local favorites!
Pigeon Forge meanwhile, offers its own take on the summer with a number of special events for Smoky Mountain tourists to experience. Dollywood, though not a special event, is usually the first stop for visitors during the summer with its many roller coasters and theme park attractions. Named after East Tennessee's most famous native citizen, Dolly Parton, Dollywood takes summer-time fun to a new level with the ever-growing KidsFest Festival. KidsFest is an action-packed family celebration that offers a number of attractions with young children in mind. Some of the most popular KidsFest attractions include: the SpongeBob Square Pants Turbo Action Ride, the Big Cats and Magic Show, the Clifford the Big Red Dog Stage Show, and the Miss Penny & Patches the Scarecrow Show.
Something else that has also come personify Pigeon Forge is its celebration of classic cars through such events as the Grand Spring and Fall Rod Runs and the Shades of the Past celebration. In all, Pigeon Forge plays host to more auto-events and festivals than any other location in the Appalachian region. During the summer months the city of Pigeon Forge is also home to the Southern Nationals Association Camaro, Chevelle, and Nova Nationals, the Smoky Mountain Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge event, and the Chevy Classics Show. So really, if classic cars are your cup of tea, then Pigeon Forge in the summer is the place to be!
As June turns to July, Pigeon Forge residents perpare for one of the nation's largest 4th of July celebrations and fireworks displays. Dubbed the Patriot Festival due toits locale in Pigeon Forge's Patriot Park, festival goers can expect bluegrass music performances, an All-American food festival, a military salute, a performance by the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus and more! The grand finale of course is marked by an incredible fireworks display that one must see in person. A majestic Great Smoky Mountain backdrop makes these fireworks pop like no other. It's a sight you have to see for yourself!
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge's popularity and notoriety might be on the national level, but other Smoky Mountain and East Tennessee destinations are just as beautiful and available for exploration! Sevierville, known to some as the Smoky Mountain gateway city adds to the summer-time flare of the area with events such as the Tennessee Smallmouth Fishing Seminar and special summer-time shows at Governor's Palace in downtown Sevierville. Townsend, Tennessee, also gets on the festival tour with the Townsend Trout Fest and its own 4th of July celebration. Other cities such as Cherokee, North Carolina add their own Smoky Mountain flavor with summer events like the Great Smoky Mountain Trout, Wildlife & Heritage Festival, the popular Gourd Festival, and the Maggie Mountain Bingo Bonanza.
Summer is a special time of year in the Great Smoky Mountains. Once the Smoky Mountain Springfest festivities wrap up, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville kick their summer time celebrations into high gear. Pigeon Forge's Patriot Festival and Gatlinburg's MountainFest Festival mark two of the highlights of the Smoky Mountain summer season. In reality, they just serve to augment the stunning foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the summer bloom. Opportunities for outdoor recreational make summer in the Park one of the most popular times of the year to make a getaway to the Smoky Mountains. The lure of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend and Sevierville festivities just serve to add even more value to the prospect of an exciting summer-time Smoky Mountain escape.