Gatlinburg Trick or Treat

2016 Gatlinburg Halloween Activities

October means Halloween fun all month long in Gatlinburg. And, around here, Halloween’s not just for kids. Plan to get the entire family ready to jump into the fun just around the corner from Carr’s!

Gatlinburg Shocktober

Shocktober “Wicked Things” Show

The Impossibilities magic show at the Iris Theater in Gatlinburg will reel you in for some chill bump-inducing make-believe as they whisk their visitors back in time to 1899 to “tour” the “Weiss Manor” and investigate some strange goings-on. This Shocktober show incorporates their own brand of magic fun into the mix of “Wicked Things” for a month of wacky good times with a side order of fright for good measure! Limited show dates from October 6-31. Reserve your seat with advance ticket purchase.

During the same time frame, you can swing by Ripley’s Haunted Adventure! This attraction is back with its annual Fright Nights.  The theme is “Monster Movie Madness,” and will give visitors a scary good time racing back through the annals of movie monster history, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout October as well as on Halloween night. Fright Nights is 6 p.m. to close and only for folks aged 6 and up, and those aged 6-11 must have a grown-up with them!

Gatlinburg Trick or Treat and Halloween Carnival

Halloween Carnival & Trick or Treat Flyer

Round out your Gatlinburg Halloween activities with the Trick-or-Treat Kickoff Karnival at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Kids of all ages will love spending Halloween afternoon at this family-friendly carnival featuring games and tons of fun from 1-5 p.m.! Wear your costume! There will be characters in full costume milling about and plenty of candy to get you stoked for a night of raking in a trick-or-treating haul!  Click to view or download Halloween flyer.

Be sure to listen up when the Gatlinburg Police Department lets everyone at the carnival know how to stay safe on this fun-filled night, and the Gatlinburg Fire Department tells us all how to stay fire-safe. The best part about this special Halloween carnival? Proceeds from some of the activities will go to the United Way of Sevier County, an organization dedicated to helping area citizens in need.

Dollywood Harvest Celebration & Gospel Music Festival

Christian Music Performances and Traditional Crafts

It’s that time of year again when Dollywood ushers in the fall season with their annual Gospel music and craft festival. You’ll get to enjoy four full weeks of live entertainment, arts & crafts and Dollywood’s spectacular fall-themed decor September 30-October 29, 2016.

This harvest celebration brings top names in Christian music to perform free concerts throughout the park. These concerts are included with your regular Dollywood admission ticket, which you can purchase at a discount when you book your stay at Carr’s Northside. There are multiple concerts each day: be sure to pick up a printed performance schedule when you enter the turnstiles at Dollywood so you’ll know where to be and when to catch your favorite artists and bands.

Christian Music Concerts Performance Schedule

Christian Music Concert Schedule

Christian Gospel performers include:

  • Guy Penrod
  • Karen Peck & New River
  • Booth Brothers
  • Southern Raised
  • The Perrys
  • Greater Vision
  • Three Parts Grace
  • Mountain Joy
  • The Kingdom Heirs
  • … More!

In addition to filling the air with the uplifting sounds of Gospel’s best, Dollywood invites unique artisans from across the country to come to Pigeon Forge and share their talents with the thousands of visitors celebrating abundance in the Smokies. Enjoy the opportunity to see so many artists in one location and purchase their handicrafts. Many craftsmen will offer demonstrations too. The Craftsman’s Valley area of the park is where you’ll find 40 crafters and wonderful gifts to take home.

Dollywood TN Harvest Festival Craftsmen

Craftsman’s Valley Artisans

Craftsman’s Valley booths include:

  • Banjo Making
  • Dulcimers
  • Sorghum Demonstration
  • Pottery
  • Wood Working
  • Natural Stone Jewelry
  • Stained Glass
  • Chainsaw Carvings
  • Handmade Games
  • … More!

Dollywood’s National Southern Gospel Harvest Celebration only takes place from September 30-October 29, 2016. Give us a call at (865) 436-4836 and ask for our off-season rates for all our accommodations including rental cabins, cottages and creekside motel rooms. We’ll be happy welcome you to autumn in the Smokies!

Cades Cove TN Things to Do – Hiking Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls Trailhead and Waterfall Hike

Cades Cove TN Things to Do - Abrams Falls Trailhead

Cades Cove TN Abrams Falls Trailhead

When looking for Cades Cove TN things to do, an Abrams Falls hike is top of the list.  The Abrams Falls trail is an enduring family favorite. At peak times, you may be greeted by a park ranger at the trailhead. Chances are he or she will ask if you’ve got water with you! The five-mile round trip trail is rocky and a little steep in places, and some hikers choose to use hiking poles for stability. Hikers of all ages do enjoy this trail, but be prepared to stop often for a little rest and water.  You’ll find the signed turnoff for the trailhead just past stop #10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road.

Abrams Falls Waterfall at Cades Cove TN

Powerful Abrams Falls Waterfall

Though bears have been spotted in the area, this trail is rather safe due to the high volume of hikers in good weather. The beauty of the forest, glimpses of the world below from some higher parts of the trail, and a peaceful flow of water near the falls are some of the features that make this lovely walk so memorable. The trail ends at the beautiful Abrams Falls waterfall with a pool beneath. Another fantastic Great Smoky Mountains photo opportunity! This trail is an “out-and-back,” meaning you’ll exit along the same path you followed into the waterfall area.

Hiking in Cades Cove offers many benefits aside from experiencing Abrams Falls firsthand. You’ll probably take some of the most beautiful photos of your trip to the Smokies, as the Cove itself is expansive, with many distance views of the layered mountains. You may see a bear or two, some deer or wild turkeys. If you’re into birding at all, you’ll hear the call of more than one mountain favorite. At certain times of the year, you’ll be able to spot beautiful native wildflowers on your walk. You can walk near the paved one-way scenic loop and enjoy the same sights motor vehicle traffic enjoys and stop occasionally to tour one of the historic churches or cabins along the way. Or, you can take one of the several Cades Cove area marked hiking trails into the surrounding forest.

Happy trails!

Smoky Mountains Guided Tours

Guided Excursions in the National Park

Once you’re settled into your Gatlinburg cabin or motel room at Carr’s Northside, that home-away-from-home you choose for your Smoky Mountain getaway, it will be time to turn to the local experts for ways to maximize fun in these hills! Thousands of people take guided tours through the National Park every year because it’s the best way to experience the joys of this one-of-a-kind place.

Cades Cove TN Guided Tours

Tour Cades Cove and the GSM Heritage Center

Cades Cove Heritage Tours
A visitor making a very casual drive through Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will understand immediately that the place is teeming with reminders of its rich cultural history. From old-fashioned churches and decades-old graveyards to log cabin home sites, the Cove is a trip back in time. If you’d like to get the full flavor of the extensive and very interesting history of the area, which served as a hunting ground for the Cherokee and was settled in the early 1800s, as well as information about the abundant wildlife and other natural wonders in Cades Cove, it might be a good idea to sign on for a tour guided by Cades Cove Heritage Tours. Tours depart from the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, located on Cromwell Drive, just off of East Lamar Alexander Parkway (the main thoroughfare in Townsend, Tennessee, a popular entrance to the GSMNP). You can buy tickets there or online at for $15 just the Cades Cove Tour or $18 for the Cades Cove Tour + Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Museum. There is no charge for children ages five and under. Call (865) 448-8838 for more information. Find out what all of the fuss is about surrounding the beautiful mountain valley known as Cades Cove TN. Be sure to bring your camera and a good set of binoculars if you can, though wildlife is often spotted very close to the eleven-mile scenic loop road. Bears, deer and wild turkey are abundant.

Rocky Top Tours of the GSMNP

Guides Tours by Local Experts

Rocky Top Tours
If you’d like to see some of the best views in the park, get some great photos and make new friends all while learning the history and ecology of the area, take the approximately four-hour tour by Rocky Top Tours known as the “Smoky Mountain Special Tour.” Ditch the anxiety of driving unfamiliar mountain roads and let Rocky Top do the heavy lifting while you relax and soak in the sights. This tour features the Sugarlands Visitor Center — where you can browse an interesting gift shop, walk a short hike to see abundant wildflowers in certain seasons, or watch a short film about the GSMNP — plenty of stops at mountain overlooks featuring sweeping vistas, and stops at Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome. Newfound Gap is where the park was dedicated by President Roosevelt and Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the park! On this tour, you’ll feel like you’ve fully experienced this beautiful place! Tickets are $30/adults, $13/children ages 7-15. Children 6 and under are free. Visit or call (865) 429-8687 or toll free at 877-315-8687 to learn more about this and other wonderful, comprehensive and educational tours they have to offer.

Smoky Mountains Moonshine Tours

Moonshine and Mountain Tours

Smoky Mountain Guides
Moonshine is synonymous with mountain life, it seems, at least in the lore surrounding these hills. Make your trip to the Smokies complete with your own set of tales to take home after a three-hour “Mountains and Moonshine” guided tour by Smoky Mountain Guides ($45/person). Leave the driving to them and learn all you can about the moonshine culture of the Smokies back in the days of prohibition while enjoying the beauty and serenity of the mountains that cloaked the stills so many decades ago. The tour is capped by a stop at Sugarlands Distilling Company, where you’ll get a taste of the firewater that sparked many a chase through the hills of Tennessee and points beyond! Go to where you may book online or call (865) 654-4545 for more information about this unique opportunity and other comprehensive guided tours by Smoky Mountain Guides.

Birding in the Smokies

A Natural Outdoor Adventure!

Once you get settled in your Carr’s motel room or cottage, take your family on a treasure-hunt-style adventure of bird identification in the Smokies! The 800-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to nearly a quarter of a million different bird species, making it a prime destination for serious birders from all four corners of the globe. Amateurs and pros alike can enjoy hiking some of the park’s diverse trails, logbook and binoculars in hand. Get ready to learn, discover and soak in the beauty and serenity of this gorgeous park.

Birdwatching in the Smoky Mountains

Downy Woodpecker
@Bob Mullen

The most diverse population of birds is found in the lower elevations of the park. There are many family-friendly hiking trails that would allow for endless birding joy. Grab your gear and head onto Schoolhouse Gap trail, located between Townsend, Tennessee and the beautiful Cades Cove region of the park (just head toward Cades Cove and look for the trail sign). Take it slow on this easy hike, which features wildflowers in spring. You’re sure to see or hear a bird on your list! Huskey Gap Trail is another do-able, family friendly adventure that would put you in touch with some of the park’s feathered residents. Keep your eyes and ears wide open! Access this trail outside the Sugarlands Visitor Center. You’ll pass through remnants of old homesteads and, if you come in spring, enjoy a wide variety of mountain wildflowers.
Birds commonly sighted in the southern hardwood regions of the lower elevations of the park include: the Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, Eastern Screech Owl, Downy Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Wood Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black-and-White-Warbler, Yellow-rumped-Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Ovenbird, Yellow-throated-Vireo, Louisiana Water Thrush and many, many more.

Birdwatching in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Eastern Bluebird

Park in the Cades Cove parking lot and walk or bike the scenic loop. On the way, look for the following interesting birds to be found in the less-common open fields of the Great Smoky Mountains: wild turkey, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, the gorgeous, bright blue and orange Eastern Bluebird and other field-loving species like Killdeer, Eastern Kingbird and Orchard Oriole. Differing seasons offer glimpses at different species, so be sure to bring your favorite Birds of Tennessee guidebook.

For the more adventurous, there are wonderful hikes to be enjoyed in the higher elevations of the National Park, where an entirely different spate of wild bird species thrives. The climate in these regions is similar to parts of Canada. Up in that rarefied air, hikes can yield both beautiful views as well as interesting bird-watching! Some popular hikes include Mt. LeConte by way of Alum Cave Trail, the Andrews Bald area by way of the Forney Ridge Trail (accessed in the Clingman’s Dome parking lot, this trail takes you through a spruce forest) and Chimney Tops.

The forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are alive with the music of birds. Visit Macaulay Library to learn the sounds of the birds you’ll be listening for.  Happy birding!

Pigeon Forge Wilderness Wildlife Week 2016

Outdoor Adventures, Seminars and Demonstrations

If you love nature, the Smoky Mountains, and hiking in these gorgeous hills, make plans to dive into Wilderness Wildlife Week 2016 held May 18-22 at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge.

Wilderness Wildlife Week Pigeon Forge Event

Wilderness Wildlife Week May 18-22, 2016

There will be hikes for all skill levels as well as other educational activities for children and adults alike. Participants will have a chance to hear lectures on a wide range of topics from the area’s rich history to the beauty and diversity of plant and animal life here. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 65 species of mammals and 200 varieties of birds. Seven-hundred miles of pristine mountain streams create an outstanding habitat for the 67 native species of fish.

2016 Outdoor Adventures Schedule

Outdoor Activities Schedule

Young people are usually excited to find that the Smokies have been dubbed the “Salamander Capital of the World.” Thirty species of this creature slither, crawl and hide in the leafy recesses and babbling brooks of the park. There is a total of 80 types of reptiles and amphibians in our National Park.
Come see indigenous wildlife up close and in person at the LeConte Center during Wilderness Wildlife Week! You can also learn more about fly-fishing and other ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the GSMNP. Buy outdoor gear or a handmade craft from the vendors on-hand or simply enjoy soaking in the knowledge, music, history and fun of this awesome week.

When planning your stay in the Smokies for Wilderness Wildlife Week, book a cabin, cottage or motel room at Carr’s Northside, boasting its own park setting. Never hiked before? Now is the time to start. Gather information at the LeConte Center during the week and head out onto one of the Great Smoky Mountains many wonderful trails. You’ll have plenty of potential geography to choose from, ranging from trails that lead to waterfalls, to hikes with expansive mountain views, to treks through beautiful old-growth forests that leave your soul feeling refreshed and quieted. Whether you take a guided hike as part of the week’s organized events or choose to head out on your own, you’ll be glad you did.

Visit the Official Wilderness Wildlife Week Web Site

Nothing says Great Smoky Mountains wildlife like “Black Bear!”

Spring & Summer Sunset Concert Series – Townsend TN

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

If you’re going to spending some time at Carr’s Northside this summer, you’re invited to grab your lawn chair and gather at the amphitheater at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend TN. This concert series takes place throughout the summer and brings a variety of musical venues to the Smokies.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m. and are free to GSMHC members and children under age 5 and a nominal cost for non-members. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase and therefore no coolers are allowed.

Spring and summer concerts take place in all weather as the amphitheater is covered! Plan to kick back and enjoy these performers on these Friday nights:

2016 Spring Sunset Concert Series

April 29: Pistol Creek Catch of the Day
Americana and Rockabilly music featuring guitar, fiddle, doghouse bass, tenor banjo, mandolin, maybe a ukulele and an assortment of percussion instruments, whistles and squeaky toys.

GSMHC Sunset Concert Series

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Townsend TN

May 13: Steve Rushingwind
Native American Flute

2016 Summer Sunset Concert Series

June 17: Blue Mother Tupelo
Genre: Stomp and Sway Southern Soul

June 24: Acoustic Eidolon
Contemporary Acoustic on Cello and Double Neck Guitarjo

July 8: Early Morning String Dusters
“Party” Bluegrass Band combining fast-paced picking and comedic parodies of classic tunes.

July 22: WestWend
Americana / Country duo playing new and traditional Country music

July 29: EmiSunshine and the Rain
Appalachian music with ‘old time’ songs

August 5: Tennessee Sheiks
A mix of Jazz and Blues with a little Cuban, Sicilian, and Appalachian thrown in.

August 12: Kip & Jerry’s Rocky Road Show
Bluegrass music with a traditional blend of pickin’

August 19: The Bearded
Rock music on Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar, Harp, Mandolin, Percussion and Ukulele

2016 Fall Sunset Concert Series

September 2: Steve Kaufman
Acoustic Flatpickin’

September 16: Performer to be Announced

The Heritage Center is located between the Townsend traffic light & the national park entrance. Pets aren’t permitted but you and your family sure are welcome.

This Sunset Concert Series helps to support and further the mission of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center:

To preserve, protect, and promote the unique history and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains region.

If you are interested in offering your own support through membership, you can download an application on the GSMHC web site.

I-75 Rock Slide Road Closure

Tennessee Road Travel TN SmartWay

TN SmartWay

Alternate Routes to the Smoky Mountains


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. March 23, 2016:  The Tennessee Department of Transportation will reopen one lane of travel on Interstate 75 North in Campbell County on Thursday, March 24, by 11 a.m. All northbound lanes have been closed since last month due to a rockslide that occurred at mile marker 142. One lane will remain closed on I-75 North as work continues to remove slide debris, stabilize the existing slope, and repair the interstate. All southbound lanes were reopened March 10. The entire repair project is scheduled to be completed on or before April 15. Motorists are encouraged to use caution and reduce speed in the work zone, especially while workers are present. – See more at:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. March 10, 2016: – The Tennessee Department of Transportation has re-opened I-75 South in Campbell County. Both directions of I-75 have been closed since February 26 due to a rockslide at Mile Marker 142.

I-75 North remains closed for the removal of the slide debris, stabilization of the existing slope, and repairs to the interstate. One lane is scheduled to open on I-75 North on or before March 24, 2016. The entire repair project is scheduled to be complete on or before April 15, 2016.

– See more at:

When incidents such as the rock slide at I-75 mile marker 142 in Campbell County take place, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is quick to map detours and post on highway message boards.

Currently, when traveling south to the Smokies, here are 2 detour options:

  • Take Exit 160 (Jellico). Follow US 25W / SR 297 West to SR 63 South, and then re-enter I-75 South.


  • Take Exit 29 in Corbin, KY and follow US 25E to Tennessee, and enter I-81 at Exit 8 Morristown/White Pine. Travel to I-40. Travelers can then choose to go I-40 W to Exit 407 or I-40 E to Exit 440/Foothills Parkway into Cosby, TN. Travel Hwy 321 into Gatlinburg.

The TDOT is estimating that the closure will remain through March 21, with all repairs being completed by mid-April.

For every visit to Carr’s Northside Cottages & Motel you plan, check current Tennessee road conditions on the TN SmartWay ap. For up-to-the-minute road closures and detours, construction, and live stream traffic cams, visit TN SmartWay to download.

Another travel resource that you’ll want to bookmark is the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures information provided by the National Park Service. This is a great go-to guide for those hoping to make the most of their Smoky Mountains National Park visit.



Tennessee I-75 Rock Slide

Tennessee I-75 Rock Slide

Dollywood 2016 Festival of Nations

Affordable Dollywood TN Vacation Packages

When folks say that the whole world comes to Dollywood, they aren’t just talking about tourist visitors to the park. During Dollywood’s Festival of Nations, which runs from March 19 – April 18, music, dance, food, and art come from all over the planet to delight and amaze Dollywood guests. The month long celebration brings together interesting acts from every corner of the globe and spreads the wonder throughout the park.

2016 Dollywood Calendar

2016 Dollywood Calendar

Reserve Your Stay at Carr’s and Purchase Discount Dollywood Tickets
for an Affordable Dollywood Vacation Package!

Here’s a description of just a few–some of them brand new–of the acts whose talents will be showcased during the Festival of Nations:

  • Mother Africa is a group of performers from countries across the entire continent of Africa who unite in a high-energy acrobatics, music, and dance show that takes the audience to “Khayelitsha,” one of the largest townships in South Africa.
  • Los Pampas Gauchos is a funny and fast-paced showcase of traditional Argentinean folk dancing.
  • Atahualpa, a band from Ecuador, hope that their musical celebration of the culture and history of the Andes mountains will build a sense of kinship and connection to everyone who sees the show.
  • The performance of Celtic Coast might seem a little familiar to fans of Appalachian music, with band members using instruments often seen at Dollywood: fiddle, mandolin, and guitar. As they hail from Nova Scotia, though, the music is inspired not by the heritage of the Tennessee mountains, but by the Canadian background.
  • French musician David Charrier will appear all over the park, offering interactive street shows. Guests will be astounded at the sounds produced by Charrier’s unique instrument, a hang. Look for the guy playing what appears to be a steel UFO.
  • Duo Del Soul is a musical pair that brings innovative Latin music to the streets of Dollywood. The shows are full of energy and cutting edge performances.

    View or Print the 2016 Dollywood Calendar

    2016 Dollywood Calendar

  • The United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra combine British comedy with the traditional Hawaiian instrument to create a show unlike any you’ve seen before.
  • Via Romen perform both traditional and modern Romani (gyspy) music. The group is fronted by Ukrainian violinist Arkadiy Gips.
  • The Alash Ensemble are masters of one of the most unusual vocal forms around: Tuvan throat singing, which allows for multiple pitches to be sung at once.
  • Be sure to look up when you’re walking around Dollywood’s Festival of Nations. You might catch a glimpse of Zebra Stelzentheater of Germany, stilt dancers looking to make new friends through their high-spirited routines.

Visit Online for a Dollywood 2016 Schedule & Annual Festival Information

Go Whitewater Rafting in the Smoky Mountains

Wild to Mild Pigeon River Rafting Trips 

The Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee are famous for their free National Park, scenic byways and expansive mountain views, their vacation destination towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and their mild seasonal weather.  It’s a perfect place to vacation and one of the reasons guests have been staying at Carr’s Motel for generations.  In the Smokies, you can do just about anything including peaceful walks and hikes, thrilling amusements, excellent outlet shopping, and live music theaters with up and coming talent.   All that and extreme sports too!

Have you ever been whitewater rafting in Gatlinburg?  If not, you’re in for an awesome outdoor adventure if you’ll face any fears and agree to meet the challenge of Class III-IV rapids.  Everyone age 8 or older can experience whitewater rafting and brag to their friends and family about defeating the rapids such as Veggematic, Lost Guide or Aftershave.

A little hesitant?  That’s OK because if you’re not up to the challenge of white water rafting, you can enjoy a leisurely river float trip instead!  Might not be as challenging, but just as enjoyable for ages 3 and over.  There’s nothing like taking in all the scenery during a relaxing float on the Lower Pigeon River.

East Tennessee Whitewater Rafting and River Trips

Trips Available March – November

Not only do you have your choice of wild white water rafting or a mild river float, you also have your choice of six great rafting companies ready and waiting to help you cross rafting off your bucket list or take your grandbabies on their first river ride.  Each company offers trips from late March – November with trained river guides, your choice of Upper Pigeon River or Lower Pigeon River trips, and excellent discounts when booking your tickets online through Carr’s Cottages.

Click Here to View Online Ticket Discounts Available from these Smoky Mountain Rafting Companies:

Nantahala Outdoor Center
Rafting in the Smokies
Big Creek Expeditions
USA Raft & Tubing Excursions
Smoky Mountain Outdoors Whitewater Rafting
Rafting at Wildwater Adventure Center

Choose your dates, choose your discounts, and have a wonderful experience on the Pigeon River!