Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks

Chilhowe Lake

Chilhowee is a small, 1,747-acre, cool water reservoir located within Blount and Monroe Counties in east Tennessee along U.S. Highway 129.  The dam was completed in 1957 and impounds the Little Tennessee River.

Chilhowee Lake is located a solid 40 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee, and it is perhaps one of the least-known and most remote places to enjoy a day in Tennessee. If you’re seeking a quiet region for a peaceful kayaking trip or hike, then this may be your spot.

Much of the reservoir is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Cherokee National Forest.  The reservoir was created after the impounding of the Little Tennessee River in 1957. The primary game fish are Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, trout, Yellow Perch, Walleye, crappie, and Rock Bass. Trout are stocked on an annual basis and thrive in the cool clear water.  Yellow Perch are abundant, and many anglers target this species.

The lake Provides a natural boundary between the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The man-made reservoir is shallow and a mere 10 miles in its entirety, narrow and twisting.

It will probably take about an hour and a half from any one of our Great Smoky Vacations cabins to get to Chilhowee.

Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains

Cherohala Skyway

43-mile National Scenic Byway from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville

Looking for ridge after ridge of forested mountainside with sweeping mountain views as far as the eyes can see; abundant and unobstructed scenic overlooks around every corner; world class hiking trails, refreshing waterfalls and scenic overlooks; a road featured as one of Discovery Channel’s Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in North America Some call it the “best kept secret.” We call it The Cherohala Skyway – experience it for yourself.

The Cherohala Skyway was completed in the fall of 1996 after planning and construction for some thirty-four years. It was North Carolina’s most expensive scenic highway carrying a price tag of $100,000,000. It winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 18 miles in North Carolina and descends another 23 miles into the deeply forested back country of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name “Chero…hala”. The Skyway is becoming well known in motorcycling and sportscar circles for it’s long, sweeping corners, scenic views and cool summer breezes.

This road enthusiast’s dream connects Robbinsville, North Carolina with Tellico Plains, Tennessee. It can be desolate at night and extremely dangerous in the winter months. There are no facilities other than a couple of restrooms for the entire 41 miles so make sure you have enough gas to make the crossing. There is little evidence of civilization from views that rival or surpass any from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It will take you about 2 hours to get to the Cherohalo Visitors Center from one of our Great Smoky Vacations cabins.

Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center

The Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center in Tellico Plains is a “must stop” before starting up the Skyway. Stop by for free maps, Skyway driving conditions and local area souvenirs and gifts. Picnic tables and spotless restrooms are available. Our friendly staff will welcome you with important Skyway and area information!

The Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center is a product of a grant from the National Scenic Byway program. The visitor center was opened in September 2003.

Attractions, Cars, Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

Tail of the Dragon

Take a walk on the wilder side with The Tail of the Dragon. Designated US 129, the road is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest with no intersecting roads or driveways to hamper your travel. This amazing road is bookended by Chilhowee Lake and Fontana Lake.

This infamous Smoky Mountains, TN road is popular with bikers and sports car drivers and for good reason.

If you’re seeking adventure, this route is for you – there are 318 curves on this 11-mile stretch where The Dragon tests your driving abilities. It’s best to be cautious as the turns are tight, but the Tail of the Dragon is guaranteed to be the ride of your life. Remember to yield to those who are ready to drive a bit faster than you. The road has many pull offs where you can take a break and take in the scenery.

Some curves have names like Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, and Brake or Bust Bend.

Even at low speeds, the blind curves, narrow roads, and weather conditions add up to create a lot of risks in any vehicle. While adrenaline junkies celebrate besting the Tail of the Dragon, many regret trying. Between 2000 and 2017, 37 deaths were recorded there.

There’s a tree at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort known as the “Tree of Shame.” Motorcyclists hang parts of their wrecked vehicles there as a warning to others. 

Of course, The Dragon is more than just a winding adventure. There’s plenty to behold with the scenery, too.

The nearby Cherohala Skyway is quickly becoming a destination too, with its remote 60 miles of breathtaking scenic mountain highway. The area also has other incredible roads like the Moonshiner 28Foothills ParkwaySmoky Mountain LoopDevils TriangleBlue Ridge ParkwayThe Gambler NC209Diamondback 226, Devil’s StaircaseSix Gap North GeorgiaThe Snake US421 and many Great Forest Service Dual Sport and Jeep Roads.

This road encompasses everything you’ve ever seen about scenic drives through America. It’s mother nature at her finest.

It’s in the Deals Gap mountain pass outside the Smoky Mountains. It will take you about 2 miles to get to the Tail of the Dragon from one of our Great Smoky Vacations cabins.

Amusement, Attractions, Shopping

Smoky Mountain Knife Works

While knives are the main feature in this store, visitors will also find dinosaur bones and meteorites.  

SMOKY MOUNTAIN KNIFE WORKS IS heralded as the “World’s largest knife showplace.” The showroom covers more than 100,000 square feet and has more than a million visitors annually.

The store is home to a massive collection of museum-quality cutlery memorabilia, artifacts, and mounts—as well as a plethora of knives and outdoor equipment.

Inside, visitors will also find the Smoky Mountain Relic Room, a room filled with an extensive collection of fossils, gems, minerals, artifacts, and meteorites. Visitors will also find dinosaur bones and early tools. Many of the artifacts in this room are also for sale. 

Attractions, Food

Wears Valley Food Trucks

Food truck park opens by Sevierville Friday, Wears Valley Social

Want to experience the best of Sevierville culture all in one spot? Then, you definitely need to plan a trip to the Wears Valley Social. One part food truck park, another part arts and crafts fair, this innovative space lets you join your friends, family, and neighbors for a great time. The food trucks and craft vendors rotate out on the regular, so be sure to visit often to experience all it has to offer.