This week is Wilderness Wildlife Week, a weeklong celebration of the wildlife here in the Smokies. This is just one of many events held during WinterFest. Wilderness Wildlife Week features 9 days of nature seminars, interactive exhibits, guided hikes, and music by legendary performers. All events during Wilderness Wildlife Week are free of charge and open to the public. This year, the Music Road Hotel Convention Center will serve as headquarters. For more information, please visit mypigeonforge.com/wildlife.


Contrary to popular belief, black bears living in the Smoky Mountains do not truly hibernate. They enter long periods of sleep but occasionally leave the den for short periods if they are disturbed.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of just a few locations in the eastern part of the United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings.

During winter, bears find shelter in hollow stumps, tree cavities, and other safe places. Bears in the Smoky Mountains are unlike bears in other regions in that they often den high above the ground.

Check out this site for more information: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm.

There are just a few days left in your vacation from work and school, and before you head back you should take a day to relax in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A great place to take an individual or group shot photo is by the old style entrance signs as you enter the park from any direction. They are uniform in appearance, and pictures are a great way to remember your day of activities. This is a fun way to start a new tradition, every year when you visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park you can take your picture by the entrance signs to show how you and the park change year to year.

midnight-at-the-new-yearGrab your family and head over the Pigeon Forge for the 28th annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. Located in the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center, the celebration includes fireworks, dozens of lights, and its own New Year’s countdown.


* 3/4 cup cornmeal, stone or water ground, if possible
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup boiling water
* 3 tablespoons melted butter
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 2 teaspoons baking powder

Combine cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl. Stirring constantly, gradually add boiling water, keeping smooth; stir in the melted butter. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs until pale in color and thick. Add milk and beat to combine. Add milk and egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture with baking powder. Beat with an electric hand-held mixer or whisk to blend thoroughly. Turn into a generously greased 8-inch square glass baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350° for about 30 to 35 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Serve the spoon bread hot, with plenty of butter.
Serves 4 to 6.

In 2007, Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que was voted Reader’s Choice Best Family Dining in the Smokies. If you’re a little tired of all that turkey and ham after the holidays, take a break and have some delicious ribs, chicken, pork, and beef. Need some catering for your New Year’s event? Bennett’s is great for large and small groups dining with a menu full of Americas’ favorites. In Gatlinburg, it is located off River Road, and off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.


Visitors of all ages can marvel at the traditional mountain scenes, colorful winter displays which have been converted to LED. The north end of Gatlinburg received an injection of fresh exhibits and subtle enhancements, while most of the timeless displays visitors have grown accustomed to over the past 17 years were converted to LED.

Adjacent to the famous Parkway, River Road features a “magical” touch along the popular Riverwalk area, where the romantic arched walkway is enhanced by a pair of graceful 40-foot swans and several ornate floral representations to set the tone for romance in lovers of all ages.

The convergence of the Parkway and River Road forms the landmark downtown triangle that is transformed into a cluster of tall evergreens swirled in color, certain to become a popular photographic backdrop as visitors enter the above two sections on foot or via the Parkway. Smoky Mountain Romance touches are added in several display areas after the holidays, with wild animal scenes, winter forests and swirling trees accenting the season.

“With Gatlinburg Winter Magic, we will continue to glorify the winter landscape of Gatlinburg and the beauty of the mountains,” said Mr. Michael Anderson, co-owner of Jackson Mountain Homes. “You’ve not experienced winter until you see the lights of Gatlinburg again.” Gatlinburg Winter Magic has been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society.