Category Archives: Fall

Newfound Gap Road to get more extensive renovation at the end of 2010

Here’s another good story.  It might cause some traffic delays at the end of the year, and into upcoming years, but it sounds like it will be well worth it.  The Newfound Gap road will be renovated (it sounds like many of the areas beside/near/under the road mainly) beginning at the end of 2010.  They will wait until the end of the fall tourist season.  They plan to repair some of the barriers and other aspects of the road from Gatlinburg to Newfound Gap. 

While traffic isn’t a good thing, I’m glad to be able to report to you so many improvements in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently.  You can find a little more info at the story below.–smokies-gaproad,0,2652615.story\


***This post brought to you by  When you are in the area, this is where you want to stay.  I was just talking to my next door neighbor last night.  He told me he and his wife have only stayed in hotels/motels in Gatlinburg.  I told him that’s a shame.  If he spent a weekend in the Smoky Mountain Tower, he might decide to never go back to the hotel/motel routine.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had fun there too, but we feel like we have a home in the Smokies now that we’ve stayed at the Tower. Check it out***

I-40 CLOSED DUE TO ROCK SLIDE… Possibly closed for MONTHS


This is a big deal for those coming to the Sevier county area from the south.  I-40 in the Haywood County area of North Carolina has literally been shut down by the rock slide.  Dave over at is blogging about the latest.  Here is his blog page… .  It looks like this will close the road for possibly 3 months.  I suppose the GOOD news (if there is any) is that this is happening after most of October, one of the biggest months for the Smokies.  Also, the next 3 months are probably 3 of the lightest months for visits to the Smokies each year anyways.  I would recommend going through Cherokee and through the park to get to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.  Keep in mind though, the road can, and will, close if there is a good bit of snow on the road.  While that’s not a problem right now, it definately could be in the near future as it continues to get colder in the mountains.  My wife and I actually drive south through Cherokee/Maggie Valley or Cherokee/Dillsboro south when we go home from the Smokies.  It will take a little longer than being on I-40 around the park.  I’d imagine it will take even MORE time now that a larger number of people will be taking that route as a detour of I-40 now.  The bottom line is, just don’t worry about the TIME, and enjoy the view.  Once you get off the interstate, it is beautiful country mountain views pretty much the entire drive until you get to Gatlinburg. I would recommend driving up there during daylight hours if you can though, because the roads will not be as wide as taking the interstate.  If you aren’t used to mountain driving at night, it might be easier during the day. 


UPDATED: Snow update: Cataloochee Ski Area opens today…

UPDATE: I’ve had a guy asking me to update this page. is where this story came from.  They had the breaking news below on their website.  Now it says they ended up NOT opening due to warm temperatures.  You can see that from the link provided below, but I wanted to update here as well so it wouldn’t be so confusing.


Check out the webcam at Cataloochee ski area in Maggie Valley.  Snow cannon is blasting the snow right now.  They plan to open for the season today.   A copy of their “breaking news” on the opening is below…

Breaking News!!!
Well…the weather is here and we know you’re all beautiful and we hope to see each of you on Monday! You heard it right, we began making snow for the 2009/2010 snowsports season on Sunday, October 18 at 6:45am and with a weather forecast for lows in the 20’s for tonight, Cataloochee plans on making snow as long as temperatures permit on Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill and plans to kick off the 2009/2010 season at 1pm on Monday, October 19. to find out the latest on skiing at Cataloochee.

***We skied at Cataloochee last winter, and stayed at while we were there.  It was a blast, and we hope to do it again this year.***


A quick post… Not much snow, but there is a little snow in the Smoky Mountains now…. I saw some on the Cataloochee ski are webcam.

It is really foggy, so keep checking back to see it better!

I also saw a good bit of white at the Cold Mountain webcam…

Cold Mountain Webcam with snow

It looks like snow/water are all over the camera, so it’s not a great shot there, but check it out none-the-less.

Take a look at my live webcams page for updates of snow around the Smokies…


***A great place to stay warm (with the fireplace) while in the Smokies is . That’s our favorite place to stay when we’re in the Smokies!***

Our drive up to Clingmans Dome…

In the car, headed to Clingmans Dome

I’m continuing my blog posts about our trip last weekend in the Smoky Mountains.  This time, it’s our drive up to Clingmans Dome. 

Chimney Tops in the distance

One of the first sites you see after driving past the Sugarlands Visitor Center toward Clingmans Dome is the Chimney Tops mountain. 

Chimney Tops from the side

Above is sort of a side view of Chimney Tops.  Veronica and I hiked up to the very top the last time we were to the Smokies without the kids.  The very top is as close to climbing a sheer rock face without ropes as I ever want to get.  But it was well worth the hike. 

The "knot" tunnel

This is the tunnel my family now refers to as the “knot” tunnel.  If you’ve ever listened to the audio tape they sell at the visitors centers that gives you a driving tour of the road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  As the story goes, when they were building the road, they had some extra road left over.  They decided to just tie it into a knot to use up the extra road.  The girls get a kick out of that every time we drive through.

The drive continues

We continued our drive down the road, and through some of the best scenery in America…

Mountain view

As you can see, we had clouds most of the time during this trip…

Trees of the Smokies

The only problem with driving is, sometimes you don’t get a chance to fully appreciate the trees.  But it was a bit cool, so we decided not to stop until we got to Clingmans Dome.

More trees of the Smokies

You can see a little color in the trees, but clearly, there is more color to come this season.

Clingmans Dome parking area

Ok, we’ve made it to the Clingmans Dome parking area.  These are some of the best views in the Smokies.  I’ll post a full “Clingmans Dome Hike” blog soon:)  I hope you’re enjoying these trip report “posts” from the Smokies…

***If you’re planning a trip to the Smokies, plan to visit to find the place you want to stay.  You’ll love it as much as my family and I do!***

Our afternoon in Gatlinburg…

Sky Lift View

We spent a couple of hours in Gatlinburg this trip.  I’ve mentioned before, it seems like the more we visit the area, the less time we spend actually IN Gatlinburg.  But we do enjoy spending some time there.  We walked down the strip and took a ride up the chair lift.

"Fall" teepee

The irony of this fall decoration is, I assume they have teepees out there (this one behind the aquarium) are representing the Cherokee Indians.  Well, they didn’t really use teepees.  Oh well, they have teepees in Cherokee as well (tourists want photos next to them even if they are not authentic.)  Cherokee generally lived in cabins. 

Planting of Fall Flowers

I took this photo, because it seems like the flowers in the area are always bright and beautiful. It has been rare that you see them actually being planted.  It would be interesting to talk to the city workers who keep the plants fresh, because it appears they are constantly updating the plants in the city.

Coloring at TGI Friday

The girls had fun coloring to pass the time at lunch at T.G.I. Friday.

Passing time at TGI Friday

After lunch, it was down the parkway to the chair lift.

Chair lift

It’s always fun, and slightly scary when you sit with your child next to you on a swing made of pipe attached (by a small hook) to a wire being pulled directly up a mountain.

Heading up the mountain

But, there is nothing like the view from the top.  Sort of like life in general… you often have to do things that scare you to get to the best views in life.




View from the top

After the chair lift, the girls wanted to “go play with the big marble” at Ripley’s across the street…

Playing with a 10,000 pound marble

Then, to Veronica’s favorite candy store in Gatlinburg (she loved the sugar-free fudge)…

Aunt Mahalia's Candy Shop

It was time to check out once everyone had a little candy…

Checking out with candy

Finally, a last photo before heading back to the car… posing in front of Ripley’s Aquarium

Posing in front of Ripley's Aquarium


***This post brought to you by our favorite place to stay when we’re in the Smokies, .  It has some of the best views of the mountains.  Check it out!***

Our drive down the Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway view

When we go to the Smoky Mountains, we like to explore areas we’ve never been.  That’s how we found Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (if you’re laughing out loud wondering why someone would not know RFMNT exists, we also met a couple, THIS TRIP who visit Gatlinburg all the time… they were on their 10th anniversary trip, and they said they just discovered it as well.)

Foothills Parkway

We discovered a couple of things new during this trip.  One, as you can see above, is the Foothills Parkway.  Note the leaves on the ground (proof it’s fall:) While we’ve been on a little bit of the parkway in the past, I don’t think we’ve ever been on the parkway from Townsend to Look Rock.   I THOUGHT the fire tower at look rock was the brick tower that the Friends of the Smokies restored (Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower.)  However, even though I was wrong about that, on Saturday, our trip to Look Rock was worth it none-the-less. 

Look Rock Tower

The drive was a nice drive, and not too long.  When you have young kids in the car, they don’t want to be in the car for long stretches of time.  I think it was about 20 miles from Townsend, and almost always on beautiful roads.  It was quite foggy, so there wasn’t much of a view when we went up the tower… see below…

 Our view from Look Rock Tower

There were many, many beautiful photos just waiting to be taken…

Beautiful mushroom along the trail

I told my kids, sometimes being in the mountains makes me think God is bragging.  Gorgeous Vine in full fall color

My 10 year old rolled her eyes, but I think it might be true…

View from Look Rock Parking area

The photo above is from the Look Rock parking area.  There is a brick area to stand at and admire the beauty.  This is one view of that beauty.

More fall color in the Smokies

There were so many trees with beautiful leaves changing color…

Tree in the Smokies

The cloudy, foggy feel in the forest while we were walking through seemed like something out of a movie…

Cloudy day in the woods

Anyhow.. I hope you enjoyed this trip through the woods and to the Look Rock Tower.  This was only about an hour of our long weekend, and I’m only posting about 1/4 of the photos we took (we take too many photos.)

Canopy of trees

 I have a number of photos from just about everything we did this past weekend.  I’ll post them as a series of posts.  I know I love to see new pictures from the Smokies, so I assume you do as well.  There’s more to come.


***Some of our favorite pictures/times in the Smokies are spent at .  I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay there as much as we do.  Dave and his wife own the home, and they rent it out to their guests who love the Smokies.  You’ll see why we’ve stayed there several times when you stay at “the tower” :)***