After a long winter, is there anything more beautiful than the first buds of spring peeking out from under a cover of snow? Perhaps only the miles and miles of delicate wildflowers blanketing the vast wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains. That's just what's waiting to greet you at the 63rd Annual Smoky Mountain Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. This year's event kicks off on April 23, so there's still plenty of time to plan your trip.
Nearly 150 Guided Walks and Presentations
Hundreds of miles of trails crisscross the vast wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains, giving you an opportunity to experience the rare beauty of the area, no matter when you visit. During the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, though, you'll be able to see the mountains and all they have to offer from a very different vantage point.
Professional guides will introduce you to many of the thousands of species of flora and fauna that call the Smokies home. Out-of-the-way trails feature a peek at the wildlife few will encounter, while indoor presentations provide an in-depth look at the history, art, and culture of the region.
Walks range from short, easy strolls to strenuous, 8-mile hikes, so you'll be sure to find just the right expedition for you. Some events include a stop for lunch; bring your own picnic and enjoy a relaxing break along the trail. Others provide an opportunity to capture the beauty of nature in a sketch, while still others take you on a tour of historical homesteads and cemeteries. Whatever your interests and abilities, you will most certainly find a walk or presentation just perfect for you and your family.
Be sure to pack your camera to capture the memories of your trip, and if you're in the mood for a little competition, enter your best shot in the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Photography Contest. Winners are chosen by popular vote in several categories, and prize ribbons are awarded at the end of the event. Professionals and amateurs, grownups and kids alike are encouraged to enter.
If you'd like to learn how to handle a camera, consider signing up for the beginning photography workshop. You'll start with an indoor presentation on the basics of photography, and then head outside for hands-on instruction in the art of photographing nature.
At the conclusion of this year's pilgrimage, you're invited to join Discover Life in America for its Salamander Ball. This masquerade party, named after the book Salamander Ball, will be a hit with your entire family. Live music from local band Johnson Swingtet kicks off the festivities, while kids will love the games and craft area just for them. For nature lovers, the living salamander display shows off the beautiful diversity of these native creatures.
No matter when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll find stunning scenery around every curve in the road. In the spring, though, Mother Nature really puts on a show. Delicate wildflowers blanket the mountains and valleys, animals come out of hiding to play in the meadows, and every tree and bush is bursting with fresh green leaves. There's simply no better way to shake off those winter blues than with a trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to see what nature has to offer, and no better time to experience the beauty than during the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.
Jon Hoffman is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Wears Valley cabins. Visit us today at www.volunteercabinrentals.com to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.