A Weekend in Gatlinburg, TN – Day 1

Hey Guys!

My sister and I recently enjoyed a much needed girls trip to Gatlinburg, TN!

The last time I had visited Gatlinburg was the year before the devastating fires where 14 people lost their lives.

My sister and I decided we would stay in downtown Gatlinburg so we would be close to all of the attractions that we were interested in seeing so we chose to stay at the River Edge Inn.

We left on May 4th & returned home on May 7th.

On the drive to Gatlinburg, we were going to be passing a Buc-cee’s gas station!

I had never been to a Buc-cee’s, but my sister had and she convinced me that I had to stop and check this place out!

So, that’s what we did and I was amazed at this place!

They had what seemed like 100 gas pumps!

The inside of the store was huge! It had fountain drinks of all kinds, a bakery, fresh made sandwiches made right in front of you, someone making fresh fudge, snacks of all kinds, shoes, clothes, home decor, etc, etc!! It was amazing!

The place was packed out too!!

Buc-cee’s holds two world records – one for the largest convenience store and one for the longest car wash!! They also have the cleanest gas station restrooms you will ever find!!

After purchasing a delicious turkey sandwich, we continued our drive.

We arrived to our hotel very close to our check in time of 3 pm so they let us go ahead and check in.

The hotel is an older property but had recently remodeled their rooms.

Read reviews here

Our room had two queen beds, a small balcony, a large bathroom, a fireplace, a mini fridge and a recliner. The location of the hotel can’t be beat! It was very convenient to all of the places we wanted to visit!

Shortly after getting settled into our room, we decided to go drive the nearby Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a one-way, scenic loop that is 6 miles long. The quick trip will provide plenty of views of mountains, streams, mills, and other historic buildings.

Tip: There are two very popular waterfall hikes on this trail – Grotto Falls & Rainbow Falls.

Click here for most popular waterfall hikes in the area & here for the best overall hikes

The motor trail was only 1.5 miles from our hotel.

Everything was so green and lush while we were there!

After driving the road for less than 5 mins, we spotted a bear!

Unbeknownst to us, this would be the first of many bears to be spotted on this trip!

Tip: Click here to read about the 4 best places to spot bears in Gatlinburg

We couldn’t get a very good shot of him but we were so excited to have seen a bear so soon after arriving!

The drive was so peaceful – all you could hear were birds singing and water gently flowing. It was hard to believe this place was so close to downtown Gatlingburg!

Tip: Click here to read about the 12 best scenic drives in this area

About 10 mins after seeing the first bear, we spotted another one and this one was very close to the road!

As you can imagine, we took tons of pics!!

After watching him for a few mins, we continued our drive .

Less than 5 mins later, we saw another bear right next to the road eating small flowers!

After taking more pics, we continued our drive and came up on a huge turkey right in the middle of the road!

We actually saw tons of wild turkeys on this drive!

The road is opened from 9am to 9 pm and a section of this road is closed during the winter months and once you drive it, you will know why!

It’s super narrow and has steep drop offs but you don’t have to drive that section of the road if you don’t want to…you have the option of just driving the shorter section of the road or the longer section.

I would highly recommend you do the longer section as it has beautiful views!

Shortly after turning onto the longer section of the road, we came to an overlook where we pulled over to take a quick pic!

We then continued our drive on the very narrow road!

This drive is soooo beautful! It’s a must do when visiting Gatlinburg!

There are historic buildings and a creek that runs through sections of the road.

You could pack a lunch and spend all day here as there are a few pullovers on the drive.

We pulled over to check out one of the historic houses that was built back in the late 1800’s.

This was the old homestead of Ephraim Bales.

I can only imagine what life must have been like back in those days but how awesome to live surrounded by scenery like this?!

After leaving here, we spotted an old grist mill so we decided to stop and take a few pics.

Historically, a gristmill was the central gathering place for most communities. Along with the service of grinding grain into meal or flour between grooved millstones, trade bartering for goods and services took place onsite.

There are 4 mills in the Smoky National Park that are easily accessible and this is one of them.

Near the old grist mill, is the Alfred Regan Place.

As we continued our drive, a section of it looked like we were driving through a rain forest!

It was so lush & green and waterfalls were cascading down the sides of the road!

This area is actually called, Place of a Thousand Drips.

We crossed over a small bridge and the sound of the water flowing beneath us was so peaceful.

The drive can be completed in about 30 mins or so with no stops but you will definitely want to take time to pullover and enjoy the views and the old historic buildings.

I highly recommend this short but very scenic drive…not just for the bears that you will likely see, but also for the peacefulness, the history and the scenery!

After finishing the drive, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner.

Prior to leaving for our trip, we had made reservations at the very popular restaurant called, The Peddler.

The restaurant was only a 5 min walk from our hotel.

The Peddler has been opened since 1976.

The building is actually the former home of Charles “Earl” Ogle, Sr., who was a fourth generation Gatlinburg merchant. In 1958, he and wife Beth constructed their dream home here on the banks of the Little Pigeon River.

When you make reservations, be sure to choose a table with water views!

Tip: See their menu here & read reviews here

I ordered the Portabella chicken and my sister ordered a steak.

All meals come with their huge salad bar!

After dinner, we decided to go back and drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to see if we could spot anymore bears!

Read reviews here

After arriving, it wasn’t long before we saw one very close to the road!

After driving the shortest route on the road, we drove further into the park just to drive a bit of the scenic road.

Shortly after beginning our drive, we had a coyote cross the road right in front of us!

We stopped off to take pictures in front of the National Park sign.

We then headed back to our room and called it a night….and turned on the fireplace as it was cool out!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Day 2!!

Update: Read Day 2 here, Day 3 here & Day 4 here

Tip: Besides Gatlinburg itself, there are three other popular areas to stay when visiting Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain National ParkPigeon Forge which is approx 25 mins from Gatlinburg—Sevierville which is 30 mins and Townsend, which is 50 mins from Gatlinburg, but the closest to the very popular Cades Cove which is 40 mins from Townsend.



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