Monday, November 29, 2010

New Developments in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tourism Industry

Well, it appears the tourism industry in the Smoky Mountains is strong enough to offer travellers more to do in 2011.  Just recently there was announcements of new restaurants, theaters, and attractions to appear in our area in the next year or two.  Let's take a look at some of the new spots to check out with your friends & family when visiting the Smokies on your next vacation getaway!

The owners of the Titanic Exhibit Museum are investing over $40 million in a new water attraction called "Water Magic!"  It is set to open in 2013.  Be sure to check out the Titanic on your next visit, as it is open now and is most impressive!

 Lumberjack Feud Dinner & Show opens in June 2011.  This will be an expansive new dinner show that will cover several acres with demonstrations & a 1,000 seat arena.  Some of the very best lumberjacks in the world will be performing there.  Lumberjack Sports International CEO Rob Scheer is building the theater in Pigeon Forge-Sevierville.  He operates a similar show in Ketchikan, Alaska.  Scheer believes the area's high tourist volume and history with logging will help make his venture successful.  So look forward to this exciting dinner show next Summer in 2011.

Gatlinburg has both the Mellow Mushroom and Dick's Last Resort coming to the area next Spring.  It will be in the former Lineberger's location in Gatlinburg at the intersection of 441 Parkway and Airport Road.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gatlinburg Attraction, Ski Resort & Amusement Park | Ober Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Attraction, Ski Resort & Amusement Park Ober Gatlinburg

Want a perfect activity to enjoy the Christmas holidays with your family? I strongly recommend visiting the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The tram ride, which is not unlike those in Austria & Switzerland, will take you from Light #8 Downtown Gatlinburg all the way to the top of Ski Mountain. It overlooks the City of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Be sure to bring your camera with you, so you will be able to take pictures of the sights & your family enjoying themselves!

Ober Gatlinburg has a Mountain Mall, Black Bear Habitat, Ice Skating Rink, Ski Slopes, Tube rides, & Cafe. There are so many other activities as well to ensure the entire family has more fun than they can handle. You can rent ski & skating equipment there, so no need to bring your own equipment. Snowboarding is also getting to be very popular & snowboards are now available for rent. For you novice skiiers out there, there are ski lessons available. You can purchase packages online or do it on arrival. Ober Gatlinburg is one of the most popular attractions in all of Tennessee, only behind Graceland and Dollywood.

It is a great place for Southerners to few the beautiful snowy mountain tops of the Smoky Mountains. If there is a warmer day, they have snow machines to help create a good surface for skiing, snowboarding, & tubing! There are multiple ski lifts so that skiiers will not have to wait in long lines. There is also night skiing available. Whether its a holiday, special occasion, or just a weekend getaway, you can not go wrong with a visit to Gatlinburg's Ober Resort. It's a Winter Wonderland!

Friday, November 26, 2010


You will love the Christmas Winterfest lights that decorate all of Sevierville starting on I-40, all the way through Route 66 Winfield Dunn Parkway.  A wonderful Christmas parade caps off a wonderful holiday season in Sevierville, the Northern Sister City of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  Sevierville’s Christmas parade will be held downtown beginning at 11 a.m. on December 4.  This year the parade will be a mix of the traditional entries and new ideas from this year’s first time participants.  The new entries include, Hoop Mood Teens, a hula hoop dance team from Sevierville Middle School.  A horse and carriage from Heritage Carriage Rides and a special float from the new Lumberjack attraction.  The traditional entries and crowd favorites will include area mascots, the antique yellow Blalock truck, majorettes and more!  The parade will conclude with the arrival of Santa Claus.  The parade route will start off from the First Baptist Church parking lot and travel west on Honey Street, right on Forks of the River Parkway, right on Main Street, right on Court Avenue and back to the church.

Sevierville’s 48th Annual Christmas Parade - A traditional hometown parade with baton twirlers, pageant winners, marching bands and floats leading up to the appearance of the Grand Marshal – Santa Claus! Parade begins at 11am and can best be viewed on Forks of the River Parkway and Court Avenue in historic downtown Sevierville, TN. 1-888-SEVIERVILLE (738-4378)

Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium  - The 2nd year for this Winterfest attraction features hundreds of thousands of synchronized LED lights in a drive-through attraction nearly one mile long. Special highlight – 70’ tall light tree! Fees apply for each vehicle. (Available December 2010)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Shopping in Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee!

Tourists brag about the options to show discount prices & name brands when they come to the Smoky Mountains! They definitely don't leave empty handed and without a smile.  Some of the top brands anywhere have multiple locations in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, Tennessee.  Brands like Brooks Brothers, Coach, Under Armour, Polo, Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Old Navy, Nike, Reebok, and many other retailers have locations here.

Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge, TN, has quickly become known as a shopping destination that offers a wide range of merchandise and price points from outlet center deals to one-of-a-kind art and quality antiques. This Thanksgiving, some of Pigeon Forge’s most popular shopping destinations are offering After-Thanksgiving sales, making this a great time to visit.
Tanger Five Oaks Factory Outlet Center is holding its annual After Thanksgiving Magic of Midnight Sale beginning at 12:01am on Friday November 26. All the stores at Tanger Five Oaks will offer Black Friday specials until 10pm on Friday with sales and specials running through the weekend. For even better deals, “like” Tanger Five Oaks on Facebook and get special messages about Deals of the Day from Nov. 22 – Dec. 24
As an added bonus, beginning at 12:01am on Friday November 26, the first 250 people to visit the Customer Information Center at Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Center will receive a $10 gift card compliments of Chase Freedom.
Another popular shopping destination is Smoky Mountain Knife Works. They will open its doors at 7am on Friday morning, with great deals on knives, kitchen accessories and bakeware. Their Black Friday sale runs Nov. 26 through Dec. 12.
Bass Pro Outdoor World’s five hour sale, from 6-11am on Friday morning, will also offer lots of great specials.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is conveniently located just off Interstate 40 Exit 407 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Within a day’s drive of over half the nation’s population, Pigeon Forge is annually visited by millions of people who enjoy the shopping, attractions, restaurants and shows this quaint town has to offer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Travel Tips for your Smoky Mountain Vacation in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, Tennessee

When you take a vacation there are always certain tools and information you must have when planning your trip.

That's why we put together our top vacation tips and travel tools to ensure your trips are most relaxing, memorable, and completely enjoyable.

We have compiled this list through our own research and experience as we've had wonderful vacations and had times where we wished we had done this, done that, or had certain travel tools to make our trip even better.

So, we'll save you some time, and dive right into our top vacation tips and travel tools...

**Southern road map including Tennessee. Jump into the digital age and try out a GPS device. Heck many rental cars come with them nowadays at no additional cost. They are great tools to have. If you decide not to go with a digital map, be sure to have some sort of paper map as you travel to and around your vacation destination.

**Luggage. Lol! Get your bags together & be able to pack the car or bring them to the airport without too much aggravation. Getting good luggage is a must and makes life much easier when traveling. Especially when flying as now they have a lot of extra fees and costs.

**Games, toys, magazines, iPods, and other things to keep everyone busy. These things are very easy to forget, but drives, flights, and delays can be quite long. Don't forget these items that will keep you satisfied as time passes.

**Cameras and video cameras. Taking great pictures of your vacation destination, family, landmarks, and other shots will leave lasting memories that you can cherish forever.

**A great travel resource. Whether you plan your trip using a professional or do it yourself (which is easier than ever), you will need to find a few great travel resources to help you along the way. There are a lot of great sites out there to get you started and help you find the best travel deals possible.

**A list! Yes, a travel checklist is a huge must when planning your trip. Plus you can sit down and iron out all the details before you go and make a list of the fun things you'll do when you reach your destination. This is probably one of the most important of the top vacation tips. Go over your list with the rest of the family & itemize for each person (if possible).

**Get your hands on a vacation guide. We always recommend a good Smoky Mountain vacation guide to use, so we'll do the same here. No matter where you're going, it is a lot more fun when you know the area!

**Make sure to have proper footwear for the activities you will be enjoying while on vacation (i.e. sandals, athletic shoes, formal wear for church or fine dining, high heels, etc).

**Bring your kids' favorite items so they stay preoccupied & happy. Ask them what they can do without on your special trip so you can travel as light as possible.

**How about some additional tools like Hiking trail maps, Traveler's cheques, tip advice, safety precautions, and more. We love being adventurous as well, but you don't want your vacation ruined by by some crook or incident trying to spoil your fun.

Did we forget anything? See why our top vacation tips, tools, and travel lists are so important? These tips are just a start on your way to paradise. Have a wonderful trip and use these top vacation tips and tools to the fullest!



You oughta go north somebody told us
'Cause the air is filled with gold dust
And fortune falls like snow flakes in your hands
Now I don't recall you said it
But we'd lived so long on credit
And so we headed out to find our promised land
Just poor Appalachian farm folk
With nothing more than high hopes
We hitched our station wagon to a star
But our dreams all fell in on us
'Cause there was no land of promise
And it's a stuggle keepin' sight of who you are
Oh and these northern nights are dreary
And my southern heart is weary
I wonder how the old folks are back home
But I'll keep leanin' on sweet Jesus
I know He'll love and guide and lead us
Appalachian memories keep me strong
Ya know I've been thinkin' a whole lot lately
About what's been and what awaits me
It takes all I've got to give what life demands
You go insane if you give in to it
Life's a mill and I've been through it
I'm just thankful I'm creative with my hands
Oh and these northern nights are dreary
And my southern eyes are teary
Don't I wonder how the old folks are back home
But I'll keep leanin' on my Jesus
I know he'll love and guide and lead us
Appalachian memories keep me strong
I'll keep lookin' to the Father
Keep our heads above the water
Appalachian memories keep me strong

Monday, November 22, 2010

Biking in the Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Tennessee & North Carolina)

Motorcycle enthusiasts love the Smoky Mountains & Blue Ridge Mountains as a scenic adventure of riding their bikes each year. Here are a few videos, links, & guidelines to review for those bikers out there who plan a 2011 visit. There are also biker-friendly chalets, log cabins, & townhomes out there that can accommodate you no matter the size of your group. You can even rent bikes in the Smokies. There is a motorcycle museum less than 1 hour away from Gatlinburg. There is also a Harley-Davidson Museum in Pigeon Forge (full-service dealership):
105 Waldens Main Street
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Phone: 865-774-3445

Come see us in the Smoky Mountains! It will be the road trip of a lifetime here in the Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge areas of Tennessee!

Other information provided by the National Park:
Motorcycle Safety

Every year park rangers investigate many motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately, a significant number involve fatalities.

Be alert: Animals may dart out from forest edges. Other drivers may pay too much attention to the scenery and cross over the center line into your travel lane or may suddenly stop their vehicles in the middle of the road to observe wildlife. Sleet and snow may fall on higher elevation roads during any month of the year. Rocks, tree limbs, or gravel may be strewn across roads after storms or high winds. These and other unforeseen conditions can lead to motorcycle accidents.

Suggestions for Motorcycle Riding

•Watch for vehicles straying over the center line.

•Stay alert for sudden stops or traffic slow-downs, especially around scenic pullouts or other congested areas.

•Wear brightly colored clothing or jackets to increase visibility to other motorists.

•Carry raingear.

•Be aware of road surfaces as you ride. Look ahead for oil spots, loose rocks, trees or tree limbs, and gravel or sand (gravel or sand is spread on roads for traction during snowy or icy weather).

•Watch for wildlife at the forest edge.

•Be alert for weather changes—unexpected rain, snow, ice, and hail can make park roads hazardous throughout the year.

•Secure your motorcycle and valuables when you are away from your bike.

•Shake the crowds! Explore some of the lesser used areas and roads.

State Laws Require:

•Wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet.

•Don't speed or pass on a double line—park rangers enforce traffic regulations.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Activities to do on your vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

There's no other family vacation destination in the US with more to offer than Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Whether its go-kart rides, horseback riding, river rafting, log cabin accommodations, shopping, water parks, rollercoasters, fishing, museums, Zorb, ziplines, car shows, or amusement parks...we have it all.  Don't forget all the winter activities like ice-skating, snowboarding, or snow skiing!!! Ober Gatlinburg & Dollywood offer tons of activities for kids of any age.

The Winterfest lights and outlet shopping are great ways to enjoy the pre-Christmas season!  Of course the ball drop from the Space Needle in Gatlinburg with fireworks is a New Year's Eve mainstay.  Log cabin rentals offer families the comfort of their own mountain home to have cocoa next to a picturesque fire, relax in a hot tub, stargaze from your outdoor deck, swim in your own private indoor pool, or compete at a game of pool or air hockey.  So, remember to consider this as your family's accommodations on your next visit to the Smokies!  We have everything waiting for you on a memorable trip with friends and family to Smoky Mountains, Tennessee!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Greetings from the Smokies!  Most people enjoy coming to the Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg area for its beauty, family vacation memories, and activity.  Others tend to come around Thanksgiving or thereafter for the amazing shopping & deals available to locals & tourists alike.  With access to so many different brands, types of gifts, as well as arts and crafts...why would you go anywhere else for your Christmas shopping?  Also the 10 million plus Winterfest Lights throughout our area are just another reason to drop in, for a weekend or maybe more!  We'll leave the light(s) on, so make plans to come see us this Season.

Shop 'till you drop in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. For those who like outlet shopping and great deals you've come to the right place.
Pigeon Forge features numerous outlet shopping malls and centers, most within walking distance from the Holiday Terrace Inn! Belz Factory Outlet Mall, Tanger Outlet Centers, Five Oaks Outlet Center, Walden's Landing, and Pigeon Forge Factory Outlet Mall offer unlimited shopping! From clothing to books, appliances to home decor, everything a shopper desires may be located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
In Sevierville, there's Tanger Outlet Five Oaks Shopping Center, Governor's Crossing shopping area, and Belk department store (opened in 2004).
Gatlinburg has many unique novelty shops, candy stores, and the Smoky Mountain Mall which is filled with different stores.
Find a cabin or chalet stay for a week, so you can do all the outlet shopping you want.

Why Come to the Smoky Mountains?
Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Townsend, Cosby and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee are wonderful destinations for your next family vacation, reunion, wedding or honeymoon. Dollywood, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, Ripley's Aquarium, Ober Gatlinburg, outlet shopping, theme parks, golf and exciting special events are just a few of the exciting things to do for entertainment while you are in the area.
Accommodation and lodging choices also abound with the wide selection of hotels, motels, log cabins and condo rentals and even campgrounds featured here. Don't forget to check out our discount coupons to attractions, restaurants, music theaters and lodging Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, TN and be sure to register to win a FREE getaway to the Smokies!!


The traditional Thanksgiving dishes really differ among families and even more so among regions of the United States. For example, there are families who bake a turkey and other families who fry one. There are some parts of the country that cant have Thanksgiving without sweet tea and other parts of the country that dont even drink the stuff! But, the following overview of traditional Thanksgiving dishes are ones that are popular pretty much across the board with a couple of specifications for different parts of the US. Remember, just because a food isnt listed here doesnt mean its not a traditional Thanksgiving food. And just because it is listed doesnt meant that it is a tradition in your family!
The most traditional food of all is the Thanksgiving turkey. There are myriad ways to cook it and season it, but almost all Americans consider turkey a mainstay for the Thanksgiving meal.
Although not as popular as turkey, many families serve a pink ham on Thanksgiving Day. This is usually served in addition to the turkey and not in place of. Some families like to have two different meats to choose from and really like the leftover sandwiches!
You cant cook a turkey without cooking stuffing or dressing! There are lots of different boxed and ready made stuffings and dressings you can purchase or you can make your own. When it comes to cooking your own there are so many family recipes that although it is all called stuffing and dressing it has so many different flavors that it might not seem like the same thing!
Sweet potatoes, also called yams, are another traditional Thanksgiving Day food. Some families cook the yams in syrup, others make a souffl or casserole with marshmallows on top, and still others serve baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar.
Cranberry Sauce

It is believed the Pilgrims had some form of cranberry sauce during the first Thanksgiving. And, the tradition continues today with cranberry sauces, chutneys, and more.
Mashed Potatoes
For many families, mashed potatoes are as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey!

Corn on the CobCorn on the cob is present at most Thanksgiving meals across the country. Some families may serve corn of the cob as well, but the point is that corn makes it onto the list of traditional Thanksgiving foods.
When it comes to vegetables and Thanksgiving there are many differences. Some parts of the country serve butterbeans, turnips, squash, collards, peas, and green beans while other parts of the country serve a green bean casserole, some kind of salad, or other vegetables.
Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie
As far as Thanksgiving dessert is considered pumpkin pie and pecan pie are two of the most popular desserts across the country. There are other desserts that are also popular like mince pies, pound cakes, apple pies, and more.
These are just a few of the most popular Thanksgiving traditional dishes across the United States. There is one thing for sure, though, and that is that each region of the country and even more so each family has their own traditions and favorite Thanksgiving foods.


  • Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, available in produce department
  • 4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped (save time and purchase celery already washed, trimmed and cut into sticks, this makes chopping fast work)
  • 1 medium to large yellow skinned onion, chopped
  • 3 McIntosh apples, quartered and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 cups cubed stuffing mix (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock, available in paper containers on the soup aisle


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 4 tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add bay leaf and add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet.
Butter 12 muffin cups, 2 tins, liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Remove the bay leaf as you scoop the stuffing when you come upon it. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin' muffins to a platter and serve hot or room temperature.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Black Bears around the Gatlinburg area (Facts & Info)

What do I do if I See a Bear?Bears in the park are wild and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death. Treat bear encounters with extreme caution and follow these guidelines:

If you see a bear remain watchful. Do not approach it. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.)—you’re too close. Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you, making loud noises, or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don’t run, but slowly back away, watching the bear. Try to increase the distance between you and the bear. The bear will probably do the same.

If a bear persistently follows or approaches you, without vocalizing, or paw swatting, try changing your direction. If the bear continues to follow you, stand your ground. If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Act aggressively and try to intimidate the bear. Act together as a group if you have companions. Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground). Throw non-food objects such as rocks at the bear. Use a deterrent such as a stout stick. Don’t run and don't turn away from the bear. Don't leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems.

Most injuries from black bear attacks are minor and result from a bear attempting to get at people's food. If the bear's behavior indicates that it is after your food and you're physically attacked, separate yourself from the food and slowly back away.

If the bear shows no interest in your food and you're physically attacked, fight back aggressively with any available object--the bear may consider you as prey! Help protect others, report all bear incidents to a park ranger immediately. Above all, keep your distance from bears!

More information about Black Bears provided by Wikipedia

Although they all live in North America, American black bears are not closely related to brown bears and polar bears; genetic studies reveal that they split from a common ancestor 5.05 mya.[10] Both American and Asiatic black bears are considered sister taxa, and are more closely related to each other than other species of bear.[10][11]
A small primitive bear called Ursus abstrusus is the oldest known North American fossil member of the genus Ursus, dated to 4.95 mya.[12] This suggests that U. abstrusus may be the direct ancestor of the American black bear, which evolved in North America.[10][13] Although Wolverton and Lyman still consider U. vitabilis an "apparent precursor to modern black bears",[14] it has also placed within U. americanus.[13]
The ancestors of American black bears and Asiatic black bears diverged from sun bears 4.58 mya. The American black bear then split from the Asian black bear 4.08 mya.[10][15] The earliest American black bear fossils, which were located in Port Kennedy, Pennsylvania, greatly resemble the Asiatic species,[16] though later specimens grew to sizes comparable to grizzlies.[17] From the Holocene to present, American black bears seem to have shrunk in size,[10] but this has been disputed because of problems with aging these fossil specimens.[18]
The American black bear lived during the same period as short-faced bears (Arctodus simus and A. pristinus) and the Florida spectacled bear (Tremarctos floridanus). These Tremarctine bears evolved from bears that had emigrated from Asia to North America 7–8 ma.[19] The short-faced bears are thought to have been heavily carnivorous and the FL spectacled bear more herbivorous,[20] while the American black bears remained arboreal omnivores, like their Asian ancestors. The black bear's generalist behavior allowed it to exploit a wider variety of foods and has been given as a reason why of these 3 genera, it alone survived climate and vegetative changes through and last ice age while the other more specialized North American predators went extinct. However, both Arctodus and Tremarctos had survived several other ice ages. After these prehistoric Ursids went extinct during the last glacial period 10,000 years ago, black bears were probably the only bear present in much of North America until the arrival of Brown Bears to the rest of the continent.


Some specimens may develop a white “crescent moon” mark on the chest. This white mark, which is constant in Asiatic black bears, occurs in only 25% of American black bears[30]
The skulls of American black bears are broad, with narrow muzzles and large jaw hinges. Females tend to have more slender and pointed faces than males. Their claws are typically black or grayish brown. The claws are short and rounded, being thick at the base and tapering to a point. Claws from both hind and front legs are almost identical in length, though the foreclaws tend to be more sharply curved. The hind legs are longer than those of Asiatic black bears. The tail is usually 4.8 inches (12 cm) long. The ears are small and rounded, and are set well back on the head. The soles of the feet are black or brownish, and are naked, leathery and deeply wrinkled. Black bears are highly dexterous, being capable of opening screw-top jars and manipulating door latches. They also have great physical strength, having been known to turn over flat-shaped rocks weighing 310 to 325 pounds (140 to 147 kg) by flipping them over with a single foreleg.[31] They move in a graceful, rhythmic and surefooted way and can run at speeds of 25–30 mph (40–50 km/h).[32] Black bears have good eyesight, and have been proven experimentally to be able to learn visual discrimination tasks based on color faster than chimpanzees and as fast as dogs. They are also capable of rapidly learning to distinguish different shapes, such as small triangles, circles and squares.[33]

[edit] Size

Cinnamon-colored black bear in Yellowstone National Park
Black bear weight tends to vary according to age, sex, health and season. Seasonal variation in weight is very pronounced: in autumn, their pre-den weight tends to be 30% higher than in spring, when black bears emerge from their dens. Black bears on the East Coast tend to be heavier on average than those on the West Coast. Adult males typically weigh between 125 and 550 lb, while females weigh 33% less at 90–275 lb.[34] The largest subspecies on average is U. americanus carlottae of the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska.[35] The biggest wild American Black Bear ever recorded was a male from North Carolina, shot in 1998, that weighed 400 kg (880 lb).[34] Adults are 4–6 ft in length, and 2.5–3 ft in shoulder height.[31] The North American Bear Center, located in Ely, Minnesota, is home to the world's largest captive male and female black bears. Ted, the male, weighed 950–1,000 lb (430–450 kg) in the fall of 2006.[36] Honey, the female, weighed 555.5 lb (252.0 kg) in the fall of 2007.[37]

[edit] Pelage

A white-furred Kermode black bear
The fur is soft, with dense underfur and long, coarse, thick guard hairs.[31] The fur is not as shaggy or coarse as that of brown bears.[38] American black bear skins can be distinguished from those of Asiatic black bears by the lack of a white mark on the chin and hairier footpads.[39] Despite their name, black bears show a great deal of color variation. Individual coat colors can range from blond, cinnamon, or light brown to dark chocolate brown or to jet black, with many intermediate variations existing. Bluish tinged black bears occur along a portion of coastal Alaska and British Columbia. White to cream colored black bears occur in coastal islands and the adjacent mainland of south-western British Columbia. Albino specimens have also been recorded.[40] Black coats tend to predominate in moist areas such as New England, New York, Tennessee, Michigan and western Washington. 70% of all black bears are black, though only 50% of black bears in the Rocky Mountains are black.[31]

Black bears are not true hibernators, but they do become significantly less active and go into a dormant state during the winter months. This is sometimes referred to as "seasonal lethargy." Black bears enter their dens in October and November. Prior to that time, they can put on up to 30 pounds of body fat to get them through the seven months during which they fast. Winter dormancy in Black Bears typically lasts 3–5 months.[22] During this time, their heart rate drops from 40–50 beats per minute to 8 beats per minute. They spend their time in hollowed-out dens in tree cavities, under logs or rocks, in banks, caves, or culverts, and in shallow depressions. Females, however, have been shown to be pickier in their choice of dens, in comparison to males.[42] A special hormone, leptin is released into their systems, to suppress appetite. Because they do not urinate or defecate during dormancy, the nitrogen waste from the bear's body is biochemically recycled back into their proteins. This also serves the purpose of preventing muscle loss, as the process uses the waste products to build muscle during the long periods of inactivity. In comparison to true hibernators, their body temperature does not drop significantly (staying around 35 degrees Celsius) and they remain somewhat alert and active. If the winter is mild enough, they may wake up and forage for food. Females also give birth in February and nurture their cubs until the snow melts.[43] During winter, black bears consume 25–40% of their body weight.[44] The footpads peel off while they sleep, making room for new tissue. After emerging from their winter dens in spring, they wander their territories for two weeks so that their metabolism accustoms itself to the activity. They will seek carrion from winter-killed animals and new shoots of many plant species, especially wetland plants.[44] In mountainous areas, they seek southerly slopes at lower elevations for forage and move to northerly and easterly slopes at higher elevations as summer progresses. Black bears use dense cover for hiding and thermal protection, as well as for bedding.

[edit] Dietary habits

Illustration of a cow elk being killed by a black bear, from The Natural History of Quadrupeds by Frederick Shoberl, 1834

Black bear taking a dead Salmon near Hyder, Alaska
Up to 85% of the black bear's diet consists of vegetation,[32] though they tend to dig less than brown bears, eating far fewer roots, bulbs, corms and tubers than the latter species.[40] Young shoots from trees and bushes during the spring period are important to black bears emerging from hibernation, as they assist in rebuilding muscle and strengthening the skeleton and are often the only digestible foods available at that time. During this period, they may also raid the nut caches of squirrels.[44] Black bears are fond of honey, and will gnaw through trees if hives are too deeply set into the trunks for them to reach them with their paws. Once the hive is breached, black bears will scrape the honeycombs together with their paws and eat them, regardless of stings.[38]
The majority of the black bear's animal diet consists of insects such as bees, yellow-jackets, ants and their larvae.[44] Black bears will fish for salmon during the night, as their black fur is easily spotted by salmon in the daytime. However, the white furred black bears of the islands of western Canada have a 30% greater success rate in catching salmon than their black furred counterparts.[45] They will prey on mule and white-tailed deer fawns in certain areas.[46][47][48] In addition they have been recorded preying on elk calves in Idaho[49] and moose calves in Alaska.[50] Black bears rarely attack adult deer, which are too swift, but have been recorded killing adult deer confined in wooden traps.[51] They may hunt adult moose by ambushing them as they pass by.[52] Black bears often drag their prey to cover, preferring to feed in seclusion and frequently begin feeding on the udder of lactating females, but generally prefer meat from the viscera. The skin of large prey is stripped back and turned inside out with the skeleton usually left largely intact. Unlike wolves and coyotes, black bears rarely scatter the remains of their kills. Vegetation around the carcass is usually matted down by black bears and their droppings are frequently found nearby. Black bears may attempt to cover remains of larger carcasses, though they do not do so with the same frequency as cougars and grizzly bears.[53] They may climb up to bald eagle nests to eat the eggs or chicks.[32] Black bears have been reported stealing deer and other animals from human hunters.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When considering a place to travel with friends or family, it seems like Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge always seems to pop up at the top of the list.  The beautiful scenery, attractions, shopping, & good food are all things to look forward to when planning a visit to the Smokies!  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the US.  So, it's natural to schedule a picnic, hike, or photography tour of the Park when I schedule vacation activities. 

Dollywood is the most popular amusement park in the South.  The kids enjoy the water rides, the teenagers enjoy the rollercoasters, and the adults love the live entertainment.  The zipline rides throughout the area are also popular.  During the Summer, most tourists & locals enjoy tubing or water rafting throughout East Tennessee.  During the Winter, feel free to experience Ober Gatlinburg's tram ride over the City of Gatlinburg, a wonderful indoor skating rink, or skiing the slopes at the very top. 

Winterfest lights also provide visual delights for your entire family during the Holidays.  Outlet shopping is perfect for pre-Christmas gift seekers.  Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Shopping Mall is one of the most popular outlet malls in the US.  Gatlinburg's Arts & Crafts Community is fantastic for people looking for a gift that is truly unique.  Paintings, pottery, glass art, & special crafts await you there. 

Log cabin rentals are a staple for families & friends looking for the best in accommodations!  The NY Times featured Gatlinburg, TN in their travel section for travellers looking for a mountain cabin experience.  Most log cabins offer full kitchens, fireplaces, deluxe bedding, rocking chairs, outdoor hot tubs, swimming pool access, and mountain views.  Truly unique cabins might offer indoor private swimming pools, saunas, pool tables, home theaters, or creekside views.  Either way you are sure to have a fun, amazing vacation experience on your trip to the Smoky Mountains!