North Carolina's Smoky Mountains Blog
Fourth of July Safety Tips for a Fun-Filled Holiday in the Smoky Mountains
Whether you're driving, enjoying the water, watching fireworks, or all of the above, the Fourth of July weekend is a time filled with fun. With a little planning and caution, you and your family can enjoy all of your summer holiday fun safely in the Smoky Mountains!
“Traveling and playing in the Smokies is one of the best ways to spend the Fourth of July weekend, and all of the Smoky Mountain Host members and communities want to make sure everyone stays safe while enjoying their time with us,” said David Huskins, Executive Director of Smoky Mountain Host of North Carolina.
DRIVING SAFETY It’s easy to get distracted with holiday excitement, so please remember these basic highway safety tips to get you and your family safely to your Smoky Mountain destinations:
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle is securely buckled in
- Observe all speed limits and watch for summer construction zones
- Keep lights and windows clear of bugs and debris for good visibility
- Drivers keep full attention on the road by letting a passenger handle cell phone calls or texts, maps, and other in-car distractions
- And, of course, please don’t drink and drive
FIREWORKS SAFETY The best bet for safe firework fun is to attend one of the many public displays put on by the communities across North Carolina! Check out our links below above and on the visitsmokies.org website to find ones near you. For home fireworks, please be sure you know the local laws and rules and put safety first!
- Have a hose or bucket of water nearby
- Keep small children and pets away from area where fireworks will be set off and spectators at a safe distance for viewing
- Be sure the area is fire-safe with no paper, wood, debris, dry grass/weeds, or other combustible materials
- Never relight a “dud” – wait at least 15 minutes and then soak in water before disposal (and soak all firework remnants in water before disposal after the “show” as well)
- Wear gloves and eye protection, watch for loose clothing getting near flames or fireworks, and only light one firework at a time
WATER SAFETY The Smoky Mountains are home to many lovely lakes and rivers that offer endless opportunities for summer fun. With a little planning and basic precautions, all ages can enjoy:
- Teach child basic water safety and keep them away from high or fast water or areas with obstacles and debris
- Have “throwable” flotation devices handy at all times
- Be sure everyone in the water can swim and/or has appropriately sized and fitted life-jackets
- Whether in boats or in the water, keep an eye on everyone and be sure no one is left alone
- Follow all boating laws and water safety regulations – remember no drinking and boating! The waterways are packed this time of year, and boaters’ full attention needs to be on keeping both passengers and those around them safe.
Have a safe and fun Fourth of July, and travel safely in the Smokies!
Synchronous Firefly Night Walks
Journey to our secret location to witness one of the true wonders of nature, the incredible light display of the rare Synchronous Fireflies. These fireflies are known only to exist in two places in the world, Southeast Asia and some small pockets here in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Your guide will outfit you with our specially monogrammed safety vests and a flashlight and then lead you through the dark of night to our "secret" viewing locations. Timing is everything, so don't miss this dazzling phenomenon of nature. The fireflies are only around for approximately 21 days, usually late May and early June. Homemade cookies and milk provided. There is minimal walking involved as we travel to each unique viewing location by vehicle.
Visitors may combine the Evening Elk Eco-Tours with Synchronous Firefly Night Walks.
Beginning May 22 through June 12*
8:45 PM to 11:30 PM
$40 per person, four person minimum
Pick up meeting location near Waynesville, NC.
Cataloochee Valley Tours
*Dates subject to change depending are the actual date the fireflies begin their flashing. In the past, they have started as early as May 18, and as late as June 6. The weather plays an important factor as to when they emerge. Typically, the warmer it is, the earlier they start. It's all up to Mother Nature. This tour lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours.
Cataloochee Valley Tours is a nature-based Eco-Tour Company operating out of Waynesville, North Carolina at the easternmost boundary and gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are officially authorized by the National Park Service to operate hiking and guide services throughout the entire park under a Commercial Use Authorization Permit.
Wheels Through Time Open for the 2015 Season
Museum Operating Schedule
April 2 – November 30, 2015
Hours: 9:00am -5:00pm
*Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Seniors (65 and up): $10
Wheels Through Time Museum is home to the world’s premier collection of rare American Vintage Motorcycles. Located 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, in beautiful Maggie Valley, NC, this All-American motorcycle museum houses over 300 of America’s rarest and most historic classic motorcycles. Currently, over 30 marques on display, including the likes of Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Crocker, Henderson, Flying Merkel, and many more.
Western North Carolina’s premier museum and tourism attraction features dozens of motorcycle-related exhibits, ranging from board track racers, hillclimbing, and original paint machines to American Dirt Track racing, choppers and bobbers, and one-of-a-kind motorcycles.
Wheels Through Time
62 Vintage Lane
Maggie Valley, North Carolina 28751
Phone: (828) 926-6266
Enjoy a Mountain Beer Vacation
Choose from the Best Western Plus River Escape or Holiday Inn Express and receive a tour at Heinzelmannchen Brewery, two Beautifully engraved 23 oz Pilsner Glasses, Your Gnometown Cookbook & a bar of locally made Beer Soap for $139.99 weekdays & $149.99 weekends; additional nights may be booked at $89.99 weekdays or $99.99 weekends.
Must book package by calling Best Western 828.586.6060 or Holiday Inn Express 828.631.1111, cannot book this package online. Available from April 1 - 30, 2015.
Park Announces Spring Opening Schedule
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce the spring opening schedule for park facilities for the 2015 season. Campgrounds and secondary roads will begin opening Friday, March 13.
The schedule follows:
Secondary Roads are scheduled to open as follows: Forge Creek Road will open on March 6; Clingmans Dome Road will open on April 1; Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road will open April 3; Parson Branch, Rich Mountain Road, and Little Greenbrier will open on April 10; Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain roads will open on May 22. Roaring Fork Nature Trail is scheduled to reopen May 1, pending completion of bridge replacement project.
Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for bicycle use only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. from May 6 through September 23.
Spring Happenings at Fontana Village Resort
Fontana Village Resort and Marina is kicking off the spring season with exciting events for the whole family: Hiker Haze Week, Easter festivities, Spring Hike Week, and Fontana Dam’s official designation as an Appalachian Trail Community!
Spring Hike Week: April 12-16
Whether you are a returning Spring Hike Week participant, or if this is your first time here at the Village, we welcome you and hope you have a wonderful time enjoying Fontana Village Resort. Join us for guided hikes and educational programs. There are many scheduled activities that will be available for you to participate in!
To learn more about Fontana Village Resort and upcoming events and promotions, visit fontanavillage.com.
Check Road Conditions on the Blue Ridge Parkway with Real-Time Road Closures Map
As inclement weather affects the Blue Ridge Parkway, use the newly launched real-time closure map to check the road conditions before setting out on a Parkway journey.
Extreme weather conditions at the higher altitudes along the Parkway often force temporary closure of some segments and also cause roadway erosion that results in unexpected closures.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure Map provides real-time road closure/condition information throughout the season. It's great for residents who frequently travel the Parkway, and also for visitors who are likely unfamiliar with the weather in the mountains, so be sure to let your friends and family who are visiting know about this map.
Plan Your 2015 Railroading Adventures NOW!
Find our 2015 SCHEDULE CLICK HERE! We are located in the heart of Bryson City, North Carolina. 226 Everett St. Bryson City, NC 28713.
Your journey begins in Bryson City! Our scenic rail excursions takes you from our historic depot through the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina. Our variety of train excursions and special event trains makes us perfect for making memories! We are one of the top Fun Things to do in North Carolina for families. Dine in our First Class Cars with a private attendant and breathtaking views or take it all in while riding in an open air gondola! Step on board for your next rail adventure!
Reservations Line: 800-872-4681 Group Sales: 800-872-4681 x3 Find the full schedule online at www.GSMR.com
Plan Your Dream Wedding at Fontana Village
You can plan a truly memorable wedding for you and your guests in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina at Fontana Village Resort. Our events team can assist you in every detail from the ceremony and dinners, to on-site lodging, entertainment, guest activities and more.
The Resort property offers a number of beautiful indoor and outdoor ceremony locations throughout the valley. We also feature and on-site traditional Chapel. Rehearsal and Reception dinners can be catered anywhere on the property!
Our wedding coordinator, Tabitha Henry, can assist you with local vendors needed for event photography, wedding cake designers, entertainment, décor & floral specialists, miscellaneous rental need and more!
UGo Tour Mobile App Now Available
Ugo Tour NC Mountains, is the Official Travel and Tour Guide App for Western North Carolina’s spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains. Ugotour NC Mountains Sponsors: Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, North Carolina Department of Transportation, NC Scenic Byways, Smoky Mountain Host and Storypoint Media.