A Recent Smoky Mountains Christmas Trip Report
Last week we enjoyed a Great Smoky Mountains Christmas trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It had rained a lot the night before so riding through the Great Smoky Mountains by way of I-40 headed west was a nice drive with some pretty scenery. The rain water was streaming down the rocks from high above and several areas displayed quite a waterfall show as we traveled west from North Carolina toward Tennessee. The rivers along I-40 where quite deep and the rapid flow of water over the rocks turned the usual meandering river into a whitewater rapids. With the leaves fallen from the trees on the mountainsides it was easy to see the different mountaintops and ranges in the distance with varying shades of gray. In the winter time you can see so much more scenery through the bare trees. I love seeing the houses with smoke coming out of the chimneys and drifting upward. It was cloudy and the views of the mountain ranges where especially beautiful. In the higher elevations you could look down and see the “smoke” settled in the valleys with the mountains peaks showing way above the cloud.
After reaching the Pigeon Forge area we headed to The Island at Pigeon Forge to see it decorated for Christmas. It was well worth the trip that first night. We walked around the shops and it was decorated with Christmas lights, wreaths and garland. Christmas tunes were heard as shoppers strolled around The Island. It was cold and the weather made it just right for a Smoky Mountains Christmas feeling.
The fountain at The Island was lite up for Christmas and the rocking chairs were full of people wrapped up in coast, hats and scarves, but enjoying the holiday festivities. The Wheel was lite up and the people were in line ready to board the enclosed and heated cabs, anticipated the festive skyline views of Pigeon Forge from high above.
The next morning started off with some trips to some favorite spots. Breakfast at The Apple Barn and Cider Mill General Store included a fried apple pie and coffee. Then some shopping at in the complex at the candy store, the winery and the candle store.
Another quick stop at The Incredible Christmas Place. It is full of what else-Christmas stuff! Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, laces, figures, bows, garland, snow babies, manger scene figurines, snow globes, music boxes, poinsettia, Christmas village settings and figurines and anything Christmas! Be sure to look up in the ceiling to see Santa, Santa’s sled and all his reindeer flying over head!
That afternoon a trip to Dollywood was planned. Christmas in the Smokies at Dollywood is a favorite holiday trip. The Christmas show during November and December are my favorite shows. Christmas in the Smokies and “Twas the Night Before Christmas are two of my all time favorite shows. I never get tired of these two shows. This year there were some minor changes from years past that added a new spark. An unexpected show cancellation threatened to upset my carefully planned days schedule to get it all in. But we got to see one of the outdoor shows featuring the Smoky Mountain String Band. This talented band was well worth sitting in the cold to listen to their beautiful Christmas song performances. I enjoyed it so much I bought their Christmas CD and listened to it most of the way home a few days later!
A trip up to Timber Canyon resulted in a huge Christmas Tree decorated with thousands of lights blinking and twinkling in perfect time to joyful holiday music. The path up to Timber Canyon was lined with hundreds of small Christmas Trees decorated in many different colored lights. It was a magical stroll through a Christmas winter wonderland.
My favorite food while at Dollywood is the cinnamon bread sold at The Grist Mill in Craftsmans Valley. The bread is baked fresh daily and is still warm when bought. On a cold afternoon after walking around Dollywood its fun to buy warm loaf of cinnamon bread with a container of icing and relax at a table to enjoy while people watching. And a cup of Peppermint hot coco with whip cream topping finishes it off perfect.
The area to the left of The Pines Theatre was closed off due to the construction of the new wooden roller coaster coming in 2016. Lightening Rod is “the world’s first launched and fastest wood coaster”. It is going to be the world’s fastest wood coaster. You can see the construction of the new coaster high above the trees over the area of Dollywood called Jukebox Junction.
A ride through Pigeon Forge at Christmas is fun. As you along the Parkway every few blocks you see the lighted decorations from the songs The Twelve Days of Christmas. Its fun to see the decoration progress from 12 drummers drumming all the way to A Partridge in a pear tree!
After leaving Dollywood a quick trip to the candy store across from the trolley park at Patriot Park resulted in a delicious bag full of milk chocolate bear claws. Oh my were they delicious. A base of milk chocolate, then a coat of caramel, then toasted pecans and topped off with more milk chocolate. A chocoholics dream come true!
The next morning as we left Pigeon Forge by way of 411 we took a quick sidetrip to see the Harrisburg Covered Bridge. We had seen the blue highway sign that directed travelers to the bride just 1.3 miles off the main highway. We followed the signs and within minutes we were at the bridge. Such a pretty site on a cold frost mountain morning. We stopped to take pictured, then drove over/through the bridge. We continued to follow the road around the bend and up the mountain till we saw a sigh for an overlook. And there it was – the magnificent long-range view of Mt LeConte way in the distance. What a site, what a view of pastureland, mountain, valleys, cattle, frosted grass and Smoky Mountains!
The trip home was again scenic as we traveled back through the Great Smoky Mountains. It was cold and the water dripping down the rocks on the mountainsides were frozen in many places. All those waterfalls days before had turned into frozen patches and icicles on the rocks. Weaving in and out between the looming mountains along the interstate was fun while listening to Smoky Mountain Christmas music.
At one of the rest stops there was a truck parked with a large load of fresh-cut Fraser fir Christmas trees! It was a special holiday trip to the Great Smoky Mountains this December. If you have never been to the Great Smoky Mountains during the Christmas season I would highly recommend it. Just be sure to take those coats, scarves and gloves! Merry Christmas to all!