Probably about once a year, our timeshare travels take us back to the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg. We never seem to tire of the area and all that it has to offer. We have been there in just about every season.
One year, we spent a week there in August, and then turned around and spent 4 more days there in September when a hurricane devastated Florida and we had to backtrack on our way down. When the 4 days were over, and the Florida resort told us to come on down, we hated to leave!
So what is so irresistibly alluring about the Smokies? Part of it, of course, is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With its beautiful trees, wildflowers, big boulders, streams, and waterfalls, it is nature at its best. Unlike most national parks, admission here is free. It is also the most visited of all the parks, though many will attest that the grandeur of the majestic Rockies is so much more enticing. But there’s something about the misty haze, the “smokiness” that surrounds the mountains that draws you back again and again.
For us, this adventure began some 25 years ago, when my principal mentioned that he’d heard it was a really neat place to visit. We set out with various children and relatives to stay 4 nights in a motel right at the town’s entrance. (It’s still there today, under a different name). We had a great time climbing up to Clingman’s Dome, hiking to waterfalls, and, of course, shopping in town. My niece fell in love with salamanders and my son and nephew frightened us all by climbing up in back of a waterfall.
My husband and I visited a few times after that, and when we purchased our first timeshare (Hilton) we needed to deposit our week into RCI or we would lose it, as it was so late in the year. We booked one of those weeks at Tree Tops Resort in Gatlinburg, knowing that it had a Gold Crown rating. We were so thrilled to be going back, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to buy a timeshare there. The resort backs right up to the park and sits right next to the Roaring Fork Creek. We have never been sorry. Of course, you may also be interested in checking out Gatlinburg vacation homes rentals by owner.
In addition to the park experience, this area offers something for everyone. Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg run together along the parkway leading into the National Park. There is all the commercial glitz with its mini-golf, bungee jumping, outlet malls, go-karts, mini-amusement park for tots, and, of course, Dollywood. Not only does Dollywood feature rides and shows, but there is also a wonderful water park called Splash Country.
In addition, there is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, a Wonderworks, an amazing Aquarium, and a just-opened Titanic Museum. If you’re looking for adventure, there is horseback riding, helicopter rides and white water rafting. The winter ski-lift, Ober Gatlinburg, provides rides up the mountain in the summertime.
For those who enjoy live entertainment, there are several shows featuring everything from comedy to gospel to acrobatics to country. Some of those featured now are Country Tonite, the Smith Brothers, the Blackwoods, Black Bear Jamboree, Dixie Stampede, Comedy Barn, Sweet Fanny Adams and Cirque de Chine. These shows (and many more) are all excellent, and reasonably priced. All are family-oriented.
Gatlinburg is home to the superb Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, featuring artists who have created everything from paintings and candles to bread dough ornaments and troll dolls. This historic 8- mile loop trail, established in 1937, is home to studios, cafes, galleries and workshops.
Restaurants abound, featuring fine dining to fast food. There are 4 Cracker Barrels in the immediate area, and a Bubba Gump’s in Gatlinburg. There are also several independent restaurants offering good Southern home cooking. Likewise, there are numerous hotels, cabins, timeshares and RV parks as far as accommodations go.
Something like 1/3 of the country’s population lives within a day’s drive of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. If you’ve never been there, we would urge you to add it to your list of future timeshare travel. It’s fun, educational, naturally beautiful and inspiring—we love it!