Monday, January 31, 2011


 When visiting the Smoky Mountains, I always make it a top priority to hike the beautiful trails of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Some of the trails are more scenic and challenging than others, but it seems it always make it worthwhile to visit the Gatlinburg area after my successful hike.  Here's three trails that I would strongly recommend your family or friends try when visiting Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge on your next family vacation.  Of course, you could always try river rafting, zip lines, or horseback riding, but the Smokies were made famous by the love of hiking the National Park.  Bring plenty of water, a snack, and first aid kit when possible.  Try to hike with a friend and don't confront animals you see on the way.  It's their home and we want to respect their habitat.  Have fun hiking up the mountains of the Southern Appalachian Trail!  We'll see you in the Smokies...

Laurel Falls Trail - Described as moderate in difficulty, this 4-mile roundtrip hike rewards the hiker with a visit to one of the favorite waterfalls in the Park. This trailhead is very busy during the summer and weekends year-round. Access to the trailhead is via the Little River Road halfway between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont Campground. The hiker can travel an additional .75 mile beyond the falls to see an old-growth forest.

Alum Cave Bluff Trail (photo right)- From the Sugarlands Visitor Center, drive 8.6 miles east on Newfound Gap Road. There you will find two parking areas, where a gravel path leads to The Grassy Patch and the beginning of a 2.3 mile hike to Alum Cave Bluff. This moderately difficult hike is 4.6 miles round-trip or 5.1 miles on to LeConte Lodge. The round-trip to the cave bluff takes about 2 and 1/2 hours, but allow about 3 and 1/2 hours to LeConte Lodge. The Alum Cave Trail is the most popular and well-known route to Mount Le Conte. Features include Arch Rock, 1993 summer storm damage, Inspiration Point, Alum Cave Bluff.

Rainbow Falls Trail - The Rainbow Falls Trail is fairly challenging if completed all the way to Mt LeConte. Allow an hour and a half to Rainbow Falls and four hours to Mt LeConte. Hikers will gain nearly 4,000 feet in elevation by the time they get to Mt. LeConte. The Point of departure is at Cherokee Orchard Road - Turn at light #8 in Gatlinburg and follow the Airport Road 1 mile out of Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name will change from Airport Road to Cherokee Orchard Road. About 2.5 miles after entering the Park, Cherokee Orchard Road approaches the Rainbow Falls parking area. You will find the trail head at one edge of the parking area. Features of interest include the 2.8 mile point when you arrive at Rainbow Falls. At the 6.6 mile point you will come upon an Alum Cave Trail junction which leads left 0.1 mile to the LeConte Lodge.

Friday, January 28, 2011

10 Clever Quotes from the Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

  1. "It is never the fall that kills, it's the sudden stop at the end." - Mountain Guide's Handbook
  2. " The Beauty of the Mountain is hidden for all those who try to discover it from the top, supposing that, one way or an other, one can reach this place directly. The Beauty of the Mountain reveals only to those who climbed it..." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  3. Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain-tops are within reach. - John Muir
  4. Fear... the right and necessary counterweights to that courage which urges men skyward, and protects them from self-destruction - Heinrich Harrer
  5. "The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel." - President Theodore Roosevelt
  6. "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." - President Theodore Roosevelt
  7. "The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom." - President T. Roosevelt
  8. I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. It is cheerfully, musically earnest. I lie and relie on the earth. –Henry David Thoreau
  9. Stitched with silver-white
    The twilit mountain ridgeHolds the last spring light.
    –Kato Koko
  10. We should be clear about what happens when we destroy the living forms of this planet. The first consequence is that we destroy modes of divine presence. If we have a wonderful sense of the divine, it is because we live amid such awesome magnificence. –Thomas Berry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Apple Barn in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Cabin Rental Guests in our area tend to enjoy a few local favorites for their holiday dining or family reunion meals.  One of these special restaurants would be the Apple Barn in Sevierville, Tennessee.  The Apple Barn really is a barn, it was built back in 1910 and was part of the farm bought in 1972. The owners tell their story:  "We planted our first trees in 1976 and we plant more every year. Our orchard now numbers over 4,000 trees. We began renovating the old cattle barn in 1980, scrubbing it clean as a whistle, one board at a time. Structurally, we left it pretty much as it was, merely putting a clear sealer on the black walnut and wormy chestnut wood, and retaining the stables and feeding rack. The sturdy old barn began a new era as The Apple Barn in 1981.
Soon, we added a Cider Room where you can actually watch the variety of juicy sweet and tart apples being pressed into delicious cider in the fall. Folks say our cider is the best they've ever tasted! Requests for a glass on the spot led to opening the inviting Cider Bar, where folks can sample our sippin' cider hot or cold, while admiring the beautiful cherry and onyx back bar. Well, with all those apples we just naturally had to include the Apple Pie Kitchen, where we bake delicious treats like fried apple pies, apple doughnuts, and apple dumplins for eating there or taking home.
Over the past 20 years, with the support of an apple loving public, we have grown "like Topsy". With a lot of planning and thought, we have been able to present our unique applewood smoked hams and bacon; introduce our own very special apple butter from an old time mountain recipe; add the Candy Factory which produces original sweets, including old-timey favorites, handmade on century-old equipment; and develop recipes for making our own ice cream for "The Creamery" ice cream parlor, starring apple specialties.
Our expansion included the renowned original Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. It soon became apparent that if we wanted to serve everyone who wanted to dine with us, another restaurant was necessary. The Applewood Farmhouse Grill opened in 1995, along with the Apple Barn Winery, specializing in delightful apple and fruit wines.
Return to the Apple Barn, where it all started, and browse among the most enticing and unique array of gift items in the area, many of them themed to the mighty apple! The barn's General Store features a wide variety of handmade mountain crafts, food items, fit to grace a gourmet's table, home decorations and collectables. And of course, apples and cider, from which it all began."

The next time you book a mountain cabin, mountain chalet, or mountain villa in the Smokies, I recommend you try the Apple Barn Restaurant.  I love the Apple Julip and Apple Jam.  You can bring it back to the Gatlinburg cabin & enjoy it the next morning, waking up to the mountains!  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Large Group Vacations in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

A Perfect Destination Vacation for your Group

After you view the magnificent natural beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take time to lose yourself in the many activities of Gatlinburg. A world-class saltwater aquarium, five mile round-trip tram ride, lifelike dioramas and museums of the unusual provide hours of fun downtown. Our deep cultural heritage of arts & crafts thrives in over 100 galleries and shops clustered nearby. And the flavor of unique local restaurants and cafés scattered throughout Gatlinburg is unparalleled, as is the convenience of lodging along streams.

Gatlinburg has so much to see and do – no matter the age or interests of your family members, we promise a lifetime of wonderful memories for everyone!

You’ll want plenty of space for mixing and reminiscing, and optional activities from golf to fishing, shopping to sightseeing.  Every accommodation, attraction and restaurant has a person on staff to cater to your needs, and we’re ready to make the task of planning you reunion a whole lot easier!

Sense the inspiration that surrounds you in this natural haven, flowing from the misting mountains, the cascading streams and the exquisite landscape. This is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Surrounded on three sides by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg takes pride in its mountain heritage and the local culture of this gateway city to the Smokies. Small town goodness is everywhere you look – from quaint shops and unique art and crafts galleries to the walkable downtown area bustling with friendly faces, fun attractions and hometown restaurants. This is truly a place to relax, reconnect, and Reach Higher Ground.

5 to 8 bedroom Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals and Pigeon Forge cabin rentals are available for your next Smoky Mountain Reunion, Retreat or Corporate Event!  Large group lodging in and around downtown Gatlinburg is available with the top log cabin accommodations as an option for your stay.  Our Large log cabin rentals give you privacy and seclusion with mountaintop views or a great downtown location with convenience to Gatlinburg Attractions & Pigeon Forge Attractions with the sights and sounds of the Parkway.  Whichever large group rental you choose, we are sure you will enjoy fine amenities such as hot tubs, Jacuzzis, fireplaces, game rooms, free play video arcades, and spacious living areas.

Our cabin rentals are in the mountains or near the Dollywood Park for your enjoyment.  We have cabin rentals with indoor pool access or their own private indoor pools.  If you are interested in multiple games, rock climbing walls, or saunas...we have that too!  For the best in group accommodations, family reunions, or corporate retreats, try our large cabins in the Smoky Mountain area on your next destination vacation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Save Money on Your Electric Bill (Tips from Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

  1. Set thermostat to 68 or lower during the Winter. Above that, heating costs go up almost 5% per degree increase.  This is especially true in colder climates like the Smoky Mountains.
  2. Have a programmable thermostat installed so that it will keep boundaries set to curb extreme electricity use.
  3. Change air filters monthly in your residential or vacation home.
  4. Keep all vents & returns open for adequate air flow throughout the whole house or cabin.
  5. Insulate your outlets throughout your home or Tennessee chalet.
  6. Turn off your water heater if you're going to be out of town for an extended period of time.
  7. Set water heater temperature to 120.
  8. Switch to compact fluorescent light builbs & save up to 75% over incandescent bulbs.
  9. Keep curtains on the south side of the house or Smoky Mountain cabin & closed on the north side during the day to help keep the home warm.
  10. Use area rugs if you have hardwood or tile floors to keep your feet warm.
*Perform your own home energy audit online at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bird Photography in the Smoky Mountains

 Bird photography is one of the most popular genres of nature photography. This should come as no surprise since birding is one of the world’s most popular pastimes!

Birds, by their nature, live in the moment and many have spent a lifetime of moments enjoying them for what they are; harbingers of song and flight, beauty and grace. For many, photographing birds is an extension of a life-long admiration for these beautiful creatures that always entertain with their behaviors and delight with their songs. To see a pair of Golden Eagles scribing easy circles about the walls of Yosemite is, simply, grand beyond words. To hear a flock of Evening Grosbeaks fill the air with their song on a summer eve is one of nature’s most delightful concerts.

Bird photography is also a very challenging endeavor, requiring specialized skills and equipment – one does not simply pick up the camera used for family vacation photos and capture compelling avian images. On the same token, having the best possible photographic gear for the task does not ensure success either. It seems the most successful bird photographers are not only skilled photographic technicians, but also have a thorough understanding of avian behavior and habitat. Most importantly, they all have a deep love and appreciation for their subjects.
There are almost as many techniques for photographing birds as there are sheer numbers of bird species. The really serious bird photographers devise their own techniques and fabricate their own equipment, using everything from floating muskrat blinds for photographing waterfowl, to artificial lighting and backdrops for photographing hummingbirds, to erecting eighty-foot towers from which to photograph nesting bald eagles. Once you “know your subject” and begin following the ABCs of bird photography, you too will be able to do the same thing. It only takes practice before you will be making impressive images of our feathered friends.

There are photography workshops available in Townsend, Gatlinburg, & the Smoky Mountain Park areas throughout most of the year.  You can do wonderful birding and photography thoughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Vacations are Healthy For You! (Smoky Mountain Vacations)

Many people don’t take vacations often enough. And now with increasing frequency, when we do take vacations, we often bring work along with us, keeping ourselves essentially still in the work mindset we’re trying to escape. This is unfortunate for several reasons:
  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  • Vacations Promote Overall Wellbeing: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects' physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keep on giving.
The bottom line is that taking a good amount of time away from the stresses of daily life can give us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes.  While not everyone is able to take a vacation, for those who can take several days or a few weeks off for a trip, you might consider a mountain vacation rental for a romantic getaway or family vacation. You'll enjoy yourself, get out of your element, & getaway from your everyday work routine, so you can come back feeling ready for anything.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pigeon Forge Cabin Real Estate Company Helps Investors Find Deals!

“At Mighty Peaks Realty, We treat you like Family!” Our family-owned real estate company was founded, in 1998, because there was a strong need for an agency specializing in vacation rental expertise and investment consulting.  Our company has several sister companies that focus in vacation cabin rentals and chalet rentals in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley, & many other Smoky Mountain areas.  Cabin rental companies, like The Villas of Gatlinburg, Acorn Cabin Rentals, Top Cabin Rentals, and Aunt Bug’s Cabin Rentals, offer luxury cabin rentals, chalet rentals, and condo rentals in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, Tennessee area.  It’s natural that we set up a real estate shop to help investors find the best deals and best properties to maximize their return on investment.

Experienced investors know a skilled, knowledgeable, experienced real estate agent is one of the best assets a real estate investor can have when purchasing in our dynamic tourist & retirement market here in the Smoky Mountains.  A real estate consultant specializing in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, & Sevierville property can greatly benefit an inexperienced investor looking to purchase a cabin rental in our dynamic, but competitive marketplace.

Mighty Peaks Real Estate consultants have value that extends far beyond showing properties here in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.  They’re in the field every day, they know the best areas to purchase investment properties, and they know where the future growth and demand will be here in the Smokies.

A valuable real estate agent can coach their client and make sure they are buying and selling at the right price.  Obviously, the right price can only be dictated by the current market conditions in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas.  Mighty Peaks Realty continues to do daily market research to provide their clients with valuable information that will allow you to make the best investment decisions. It takes an agent like a vacation rental expert from Mighty Peaks Realty, to let you know what the hottest trends in vacation rentals are in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.  They’ll let you know what areas are in the most demand in the Smoky Mountains.  Mighty Peaks Realty knows where the overnight rental market is today, but more importantly they know where the vacation cabin rental market is going tomorrow and beyond.  Let us help you discover the right path to take in purchasing your dream home in the Smokies.  It just may be the best investment you ever make in your life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Biltmore Estate is a Destination Attraction

While booking a luxury cabin rental in the Smoky Mountains, I do recommend visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  You can be there in a little over an hour.  The Biltmore estate was built by the Vanderbilts in the 19th Century.  It is truly a remarkable home with incredible gardens, wonderful dining, & intriguing American history.  Feel free to plan your lodging in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, while spending one day in Asheville at Biltmore.  You'll want to stay in the Smoky Mountains because most of your other itenary will be completed in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.  Your family will want to travel to the Smoky Mountain National Park, Aquarium of the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg, Dollywood, et cetera. 

Discover the Wonders
of Biltmore

Plan your getaway to George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate. Mr. Vanderbilt created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life. Now, his descendants invite you to enjoy his legacy of hospitality. Your admission includes self-guided tours of the breathtaking Biltmore House & Gardens and the new Antler Hill Village—featuring the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy, Village Green, and Farm.
Play in our 8,000-acre backyard with an array of outdoor activities, indulge in one-of-a-kind shopping, and savor our restaurants' exceptional fare. Visit Biltmore in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC and let our gracious hospitality inspire you.

Biltmore House & Gardens

Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt's 250-room French château is a real life wonder. Enjoy a self-guided visit of Biltmore House that unveils a fresh look at how people lived and worked in America’s largest home. Also, explore the acres of beautiful gardens and grounds, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, during your visit.
A self-guided visit of Biltmore House & Gardens is included in estate admission.
In-depth audio tour and guided specialty tours are available for an additional cost

Monday, January 17, 2011


 Have you been looking for a unique wedding experience. Here is your opportunity to have a once in a lifetime wedding ceremony.The Entire Month of February, 2011 renew your wedding vows on the Grand Staircase. Experience the power of love during Titanic's tribute to romance and the lasting love of devoted couples everywhere. Held in elegant style on Titanic's Grand Staircase, every ceremony is presided over by the ship's captain. After renewing your vows keep your honeymoon going by staying in a luxury cabin. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Smoky Mountains have many artists that share their creations at shops that surround the area. Arrowmont School has another way of showcasing art in the 15th Sevier County Biennial Juried Exhibition. This exhibition features artwork from people who live and work in Sevier County. This is open to anyone that is 18 years and older and features over 100 works created by 54 artists. This is a great way to see the local talent that is hidden in the Smoky Mountain area. Bring the family out to see the wonderful artwork and maybe you can bring out the artist in yourself!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains: Come to Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

Complete Gatlinburg and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park Hiking Guide

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be a fun and rewarding experience as in other national parks. It is a great way to both see and experience the park.

More than 850 miles of hiking trails traverse the Great Smoky Mountains. They range from easy to difficult and provide half hour walks to week-long backpacking trips. The Appalachian Trail runs for 70 miles along the park's top ridge. Pets are not allowed on any trails except for the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Backcountry camping requires a permit.

With so many options, the Smokies offer a tremendous number of hiking opportunities. Mentioned below are a few of the most popular and/or exciting destinations. All trails are described in round trip miles.

Regular Hikes

•Alum Cave - 4.4 miles (Moderate Difficulty)

It includes Arch Rock, a natural arch, Inspiration Point, and the Alum Cave Bluff. Inspiration Point offers a spectacular view of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River's upper basin. The bluff resulted from Confederate mining of saltpeter during the Civil War. This trail continues to Mt. LeConte, and its beautiful viewpoints. Round trip distance from the parking area to LeConte is 10 miles.

•Andrews Bald - 4.4 miles (Moderate Difficulty)

This hike heads downslope to a bald. Excellent views open to the south, toward Fontana Lake, and in spring the azalea explode with color. This trail head is not accessible by car from December 1 to April 1.

•Charlie's Bunion - 8.0 miles (Moderate Difficulty)

Following the Appalachian Trail, this hike goes out to rocky crags along the State-line ridge. It has excellent views.

•Chimney Tops - 4.0 miles (Strenuous in Difficulty)

It is a steep climb to two rock spires 4,755 ft in elevation. From the top they provide a spectacular 360-degree view.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bring your pet this vacation! (Gatlinburg pet-friendly cabin rentals available)

Pet friendly Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins are easy to find in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg.  Our accommodations are perfect for anyone who is looking for pet friendly Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins, because we are located just between both of those towns, which makes it incredibly convenient to all the attractions, shopping and excitement of the area. 

We realize how important pet friendly Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins are for those who want to share their vacation memories with their beloved animals.  We offer luxurious surroundings and special amenities for our guests that include a resort swimming pool, a children’s playground, and a community pavilion for enjoying the great outdoors.

These pet friendly Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins have all of the comforts of home and so much more, including outdoor hot tubs, indoor spa tubs, game rooms with pool tables, fireplaces, fully equipped gourmet kitchens, washers, dryers and full linens, big screen televisions with surround sound, cable or satellite programming, private sundecks, charcoal grills, and private parking.

We provide the best pet friendly Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg cabins because of their proximity to wonderful adventures with your animal.  These towns are known as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park which offers picnicking, hiking trails, fishing, and many more adventures you can experience in nature.  

Let us help you plan your vacation by booking your custom package to include your accommodations and tickets to all of the best attractions in the area.  Come in the summer for the most opportunity to see every available attraction.  The Fall offers colors that overwhelm your senses when the leaves change.  Visit during the Christmas season to see the millions of lights displayed in the surrounding area.  Or take a secluded getaway in the winter months amidst the lightly snow-covered trees for a picturesque weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Super Bowl Chili Recipes from Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Chili Cook-off!)

Whether you visit for the Winterfest & Chili Cook-Off event or just want to make a special plate for your family during their vacation to the Smokies, we've got the recipes for you that will keep them screaming for more!  Try making a special pot for your family, the next time you stay in a log cabin in the Smokies & you'll have the perfect vacation dish for the whole gang!

Award Wining Chili
1st Dump
2 tsp Mild Bills Onion Granules
¼ tsp Mild Bills Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp Wylers Beef Granules
2 tsp Wylers Chicken Granules
1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
1 ½ tsp Mild Bills Garlic Granules
1 Tbsp Mild Bills Cowtown Light Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Mild Bills San Antonio Original Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Mild Bills Dixon Medium Hot Chili Powder

2nd Dump
1 Tbsp Mild Bills Cumin
½ tsp Mild Bills Garlic Granules
1/8 tsp Gunpowder Foods Hot Stuff (Available from Mild Bills)
1/8 tsp Mild Bills Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Mild Bills San Antonio Original Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Mexene Chili Powder (Available from Mild Bills)
1 Tbsp Mild Bills Cowtown Light Chili Powder
1/8 tsp Brown Sugar
1 Package Sazon Goya (Available from Mild Bills)
Brown 2 lbs of chili grind; drain and set aside.  Add 1 can of beef broth, 1 can of chicken broth, and 1 can of tomato sauce; bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add two Serrano peppers, the 1st Dump and drained chili grind.  Boil on medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until meat is done.  Squeeze peppers into chili and discard the peppers.
45 minutes before turn in, bring chili to a boil.  Add the 2nd Dump and cook for 30 minutes over medium to medium low heat.  Check for salt and adjust if necessary.
Good luck and see ya on the chili trail!  Tom Dozier, Irving, Texas

Bush's Beans' All American Chili

Hands-On Time:10 Minutes

Cooking Time:30 Minutes
Total Time:40 Minutes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans BUSH'S® Chili Beans
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese

  • In large pan, cook beef, onion and green pepper until meat is browned. Drain excess grease. Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with Cheddar cheese.

  • Bush's Beans' factory is located near Sevier County.  Their new facility is in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.  Their beans are world-famous.  We bring you their All-American Chili recipe from East Tennessee.  A good pre-game meal before visiting Dollywood, Ober Gatlinburg, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, or any televised Sporting Event (ie The Super Bowl)!

    Friday, January 07, 2011

    Incredible Videography of the Smoky Mountains!!! Getaway to Gatlinburg

    Have the family vacation of a lifetime in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.  Your entire family will have a blast in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.  If you are looking to enjoy nature & getaway for wonderful photography or hiking, Gatlinburg & the Smoky Mountain National Park are a great destination!  You may not find a more beautiful landscape in the United States.  See why over twelve million visitors come to this National Park per year?  It's beautiful throughout the season, it's free, and it's packed with activities both inside & outside the Park!  Check out all that Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge have to offer this Spring! We look forward to your visit.

    Thursday, January 06, 2011

    Fraser Fir in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Smoky Mountain National Park)

    Fraser fir trees grow only in the southern Appalachian Mountains and about three-quarters of their native population is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  They are grown commercially as Christmas trees and are highly regarded for their sweet fragrance.  Since the 1950s, many trees have been killed by a tiny insect from Europe.

    The southern spruce-fir forest is the highest and coldest forest ecosystem in the Appalachian range, thriving in elevations above 5,500 feet where the climate is too harsh to support the broad-leaved hardwood forest that dominates the region's lower elevations. A relic of the last Ice Age, this forest type covers just over 100 square miles, and is considered the second-most endangered ecosystem in the United States.  Southern spruce-fir stands consist primarily of two needle-leaved evergreen species— the red spruce and the Fraser fir. 

    Over the past two centuries, the southern spruce-fir stands have been decimated by logging, pollution, and a European aphid infestation. The southern spruce-fir forest is home to one endangered species, the spruce-fir moss spider, and several threatened species. While red spruce is common throughout North America, the Fraser fir— a relative of the balsam fir— is found only in the spruce-fir stands of Southern Appalachia.[4] In the second half of the 20th century, nearly all of the mature Fraser firs of Southern Appalachia were killed off by the balsam woolly adelgid— a parasite introduced from Europe around 1900.

    Come to the Smoky Mountains, near the town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and see the largest collection of "Christmas" trees in the country.  The wildlife and landscapes to be seen are quite beautiful.  You will truly enjoy your peaceful hike or drive through the Park!

    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    Top 10 Reasons To Plan a Smoky Mountain Vacation over Orlando, Florida

    1. The BEAUTY:  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just South of Gatlinburg, is the most scenic & most visited National Park in the United States.  Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Smoky Mountains, has a unique footprint & lots to offer! 

    2. AFFORDABILITY:  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is free.  Most parking is free.  Accommodations have competitive rates.  It's normally more affordable than Orlando or the beach spots.  Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg offer outlet shopping & affordable dining, too.

    3.  DIVERSITY OF ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES:  Lots of fun for the entire family including the Dollywood Amusement Park, Titanic Museum, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, & Ober Ski Resort

    4.  NATURE IS EVERYWHERE:  Your family can have group experiences with outdoor zip-lining, hiking, river rafting, and horse-back riding.  Walk along the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.

    5.  VACATION CABIN RENTALSLuxury cabin rentals in the area are unique, compared to other tourist spots.  They offer tremendous value for travellers looking for their own personal resort in a vacation rental.  Gatlinburg cabin rentals and Pigeon Forge cabin rentals offer different amenity packages.  You can elect to get a resort location, secluded surroundings, or mountain views each time you visit!

    6.  SHORT DRIVE AWAY:  Did you know Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg are only half a day's drive or less from over 1/3 of the United States population.  We have 12-15 million visitors per year!

    7.  AUTO & MOTORCYCLE ENTHUSIASTS WELCOME:  Not only are there several car shows throughout the year, but people can tour the National Park via automobile or motorcycle.  The mountain views are jaw-dropping!

    8.  HISTORY:  See Cades Cove, which preserved the homestead of East Tennessee settlers from the nineteenth century.  You can see how people lived over 150 years ago.  You can also visit the Cherokee Reservation on the Southeast side of the Park.

    9.  AVOID AIRPORTS:  Each year, due to the necessary security precautions, flying gets to be more & more cumbersome and expensive for families to travel.  Save hundreds of dollars and anguish by "driving" to our vacation destination.  (FYI:  We do have McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville if you would like to fly into our area)

    10:  SEASONAL CHANGES:  Each season in the Smokies has a "personality" and look all its own!  You will love the beauty of the Park during the Spring bloom.  Photographers come from all over the World to take pictures of the autumn leaf changes during the Fall.  During the Summer, families can take a break from their careers and school year to visit Dollywood (Tennessee's #1 attraction).  During the Winter, Gatlinburg tourists & Pigeon Forge travellers come to celebrate the holidays and see the snow-capped mountains of the Smoky Mountains.   Ober ski resort also has tubing, skiing, ice-skating, & snowboarding for winter sports & recreation!

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    History of Smoky Mountain National Park near Gatlinbug, Tennessee

    In a national park, however, the scenery and resources are protected, and nature is allowed to run its course. The ultimate decision to establish a national park meant that the scenery, resources, and some of the native architecture would be protected for all people to enjoy into the infinite future.

    The drive to create a national park became successful in the mid-1920s, with most of the hard working supporters based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina. The two groups had long been competitors over the location of the national park, but they finally began pulling together for a park in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, halfway between the two cities.

    As a matter of past history and present interest, the park movement was directed not by the hardcore conservationists, backpackers, and trout fishermen, but motorists. The newly formed auto clubs, mostly branches of the AAA, were interested in good roads through beautiful scenery on which they could drive their shiny new cars.

    In May, 1926, a bill was signed by President Calvin Coolidge that provided for the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. This allowed the Department of the Interior to assume responsibility for administration and protection of a park in the Smoky Mountains as soon as 150,000 acres of land had been purchased. Since the government was not allowed to buy land for national park use, the former political boosters had to become fund raisers.

    In the late 1920s, the Legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina appropriated $2 million each for land purchases. Additional money was raised by individuals, private groups, and even school children who pledged their pennies. By 1928, a total of $5 million had been raised. Trouble was, the cost of the land had now doubled, so the campaign ground to a halt. The day was saved when the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund donated $5 million, assuring the purchase of the remaining land.

    But buying the land was difficult, even with the money in hand. There were 6,000 small farms, large tracts, and other miscellaneous parcels that had to be surveyed, appraised, dickered over, and sometimes condemned in court. The timber and paper companies had valuable equipment and standing inventory which required compensation.

    Worse, in some ways, were the emotional losses to people who had to walk away from their homes. A later survey of the displaced people showed that about half took the money and ran and were glad to have it; while the other half expressed feelings from mild inconvenience to outright hostility. Some people were allowed to stay under lifetime leases, particularly if they were too old or too sick to move. Younger ones were granted leases on a short-term basis, if they wanted to try to stick it out. However, they could not cut timber, hunt and trap at will, or otherwise live as they always had.

    The first Superintendent of the new park arrived in 1931, Major J. Ross Eakin. By 1934, the states of Tennessee and North Carolina had transferred deeds for 300,000 acres to the federal government. Congress thus authorized full development of public facilities.

    Much of the early development of facilities and restoration of early settlers' buildings was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), an agency created during the Depression to provide work and wages for unemployed young men. The CCC worked from 1933 to 1942 when World War II finally shut the program down. Many of the trails, campgrounds, and the beautiful stone bridges and buildings that still stand today are examples of their work.

    The final touch in the creation of the Smoky Mountain National Park was its formal dedication by President Franklin Roosevelt in September, 1940. He stood on and spoke from the Rockefeller Monument at Newfound Gap astride the Tennessee - North Carolina state line. That ceremony dedicated a sanctuary that is not a local park, a county park, or even a state park, but a national park for all the people of the country and the rest of the world to enjoy.

    Come to Gatlinburg to visit the Smoky Mountain National Park.  Your family will be impressed with memories to last a lifetime.  The Sugarland Visitor Center, just South of Gatlinburg, has Park information for your hiking group or auto tour.  Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited National Park in the United States.  We invite you to come see why this year!  There is a wide range of accommodations available in Gatlinburg including Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge cabin, chalet, and condo rentals for your family vacation.

    Information provided by Gatlinburg Visitors and Convention Bureau

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    Great Smoky Mountain National Park outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

    Near Gatlinburg, Tennessee,  you can visit the Great Smokies and relish the beauty of its landscape.  The Smokies' smoke & their amazing array of creeks and cascades are the result of mountains and moisture.  The Smokies are the largest mountains east of the Rocky Mountains.  Sixteen of the peaks in the Smokies are more than 6,000 feet high. 

    When you walk along the top of the Smokies, you are on one of the highest paths in the eastern United States-- more than a mile above sea level.  The higher slopes of the Smokies get as much as 100 inches of rain each year, more than any other part of the U.S. other than the Pacific Northwest..  The lower elevations average at least 50 inches a year of rain.  Much of the water is absorbed by the forest floor & is needed by the Smokies' vegetation to grow some of the biggest trees in the World. 

    If you want to know what causes the "smoky" appearance of the Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, I will tell you.  The Smokies' generous rainful helps cause its famous "smoke."  Trees not only take in water through their roots; they give off moisture through their leaves.  The Great Smokies' forest is so large, and many of the forest trees are so big, that the total "transpiration" of moisture can actually form clouds.  This tree moisture, along with the already moist air and occasional air pollution produce the "smoke."  This is a visual effect of a sort of steamroom or "wet" sauna for trees.

    Remember, to bring your camera, when travelling through the Smoky Mountains.  The drive is beautiful, but no words can match the views obtained by hiking (and walking) alone.  You can take in different sights, through the sensual bliss of the Park.  These sights include white-water creeks, mesmerizing cascades, waterfalls, rhododendrons, giant hemlocks, caves, rock formations, and scenic mountain peaks throughout the Park. 

    Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an old hiking post that has been converted into a town that flourishes with tourism annually in East Tennessee.  After Light #10 (the end or Southern side of Gatlinburg), you can visit the Sugarland Vistors Center which is serviced by the Park Rangers to inform its visitors.  They can give you information about roadways, animals, bird-watching, picnic areas, and walking trails.  It's a good place to stretch, rest, get educated about the Park, and plan your day in the Great Smokies.  See you there!