Category Archives: pictures

Synchronized fireflies in Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains

The firefly show will be here for 2010 before you know it.  If you’re wondering what I mean by a “firefly show,” it’s a unique show that can only be found 2 places on earth. One is a place in Southeast Asia.  The other is right here in the Smoky Mountains  

These fireflies flash synchronously. They may flash in waves, or flash on and off together, or all go dark at once.  It sounds like an inspiring way to spend an evening.  

Scientists don’t know why or how it happens, but it does.  I suppose this is just another aspect of “Smoky Mountain Magic.”  Since they are only adults for about 3 weeks, this firefly show only lasts for a week or so, usually the 2nd week in June each year.  The show starts at around 9:30PM each night.  The park has a trolley service that allows you to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride up to the show in the Elkmont area. 

Believe it or not, these fireflies are just one of 14 different species of fireflies that live in the Smokies.

Here’s a post from my blog last year with a video of what you might see…

If you plan to see the show for yourself, below is a list of “Light Show Etiquette” from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website…

Light Show Etiquette
Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:

  • Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.
  • Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.
  • Point your flashlight at the ground.
  • Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.

You can also help protect the fireflies and their habitat:

  • Do not catch the fireflies.
  • Stay on the trail at all times.
  • Pack out all of your garbage.

Here is the park’s webpage on the fireflies…

If you like the photo above of the fireflies from last year, you can buy a copy on…

I will post much more on this topic as June approaches…


***This post brought to you by  Once you’re finished watching the relaxing show of the fireflies, you will want to relax and get some sleep before another great day in the Smokies.  The best way to do that is by staying at The Smoky Mountain Tower.  Check it out!***

DAY-1 Ski Trip in Maggie Valley…

Alright, we are finally back in the Smokies! We arrived at about 4AM (extremely late arrival is a long story) this morning at A Holiday Motel ( in Maggie Valley.  We slept for about 6 hours before getting out of the room at around 11AM this morning.  We were skiing at Cataloochee ( ) soon thereafter.  There was a snow storm moving into the area.  That’s good news, because that means lots of great powder. The bad news is, it snowed so hard, they had to close the slopes early.  We were planning to ski until they closed at 10PM, but they had to close at 4:30PM due to the extreme snow.  The snow is not a problem at the top of the mountain, but considering you have to drive back down the mountain, the snow-covered roads are the reason they had to close early.  We were just about the last people on the mountain before we left.

Now, keep in mind, on our way UP the mountain, just a few hours earlier, there were bits of snow on the sides of the road, but just a little white here and there.  As you can see by these photos we took on the way down the mountain, the entire area now looks like a winter wonderland.

Here’s a look at some fields on the way down the mountain.

Then, another of the cabins you see along the road down the mountain.

The Cataloochee folks tell us they expect lots of additional snow throughout tonight.  They plan to open at 8:30AM tomorrow, and will stay open until 10PM.  IF that happens, we plan to be there from open to close.  We’ll post more photos from tomorrow once we get back from the slopes.

Also, I wanted to let you know when we will be airing another “LIVE IN THE SMOKIES” episode of the Internet Talk Show.  I will be hosting a show on THIS Sunday morning from Maggie Valley.  I plan to have several guests on the show, including a representative from the N.C. Department of Transportation.  He spent several days last week at the site of the rock slide on I-40.  He’ll update us on the project. That “LIVE FROM THE SMOKIES” episode of the Internet Talk Show will take place this Sunday morning at 8:30AM.  I will post the show link here on the blog.  You can listen live, or listen to the show podcast later at the link.  Stay tuned!


***This trip to the Smokies is brought to you by and***

“Life on LeConte” blog…

I’ve found a new Smoky Mountains website to add to my list of “favorite sites.” It’s at

Doug McFall is the winter caretaker of LeConte Lodge.  He runs the blog from the lodge. 

I’ve always said that if I ever get the time/money to be able to spend extended time in the Smokies creating stories for the GoSmoky blog, I’d like to make small documentaries about various aspects of those mountains.  Spending some time up at LeConte Lodge during the snowy off-season would be one of the things I’d love to do a story on. 

Doug’s blog is basically his updates on life on the mountain.  The photos he has there are incredible.  I don’t know how much is due to his photograghic ability, or how much is simply due to the fact that the Smokies are extremely photogenic… especially when dusted with snow.  Just take a look at the photo below… it looks like a piece of artwork. Then again, it is.  God knew what he was doing…

I’d recommend you bookmark his site.  I’ve invited him to be on my online GoSmoky radio show, but right now management of LeConte Lodge doesn’t want him doing interviews.  That’s too bad for us and them.  I’ll bet Doug could tell us some great stories from the mountain, and more people could find out about what the lodge has to offer.

Enjoy his blog!!


***When you stay in the Smoky Mountains, stay where we stay, at  They support the blog. Check out the photos of the view from the tower now!***

Snow is in the area, skiing is great on the slopes!

View From Purchase Knob, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There’s a photo from the webcam at Purchase Knob in the National Park.  I love snow in the mountains.  You can see the live view by clicking on my live webcams link above, or just click here… . 
The snow means skiing is great right now on the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg and Cataloochee in Maggie Valley.  Both resorts are reporting close to 30+ incheas of snow.  Above is  a look at the ski mountain at Cataloochee this morning.  Looks like a blast on the slopes… is the direct link to see a live look at this webcam.   Click the following link for a look at live webcams at a number of southeast ski resorts..
Then, you can see snow in Gatlinburg at the Gatlinburg live webcam above the Space Needle.   Check it out.. control it yourself:)
This is a great time to visit the Smoky Mountains.  Not only is it beautiful, but there are fewer crowds, and places to stay are much cheaper. 
**You can also see some great snow photos from the website of our favorite place to stay in the smokies, the Smoky Mountain Tower… they have some great snow photos at the blog, **

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” :)***