By Jon Hoffman
Cabin fever got you down? Are gray skies and the seemingly endless cold weather leaving you feeling a bit cranky and out of sorts? A spring getaway is just what you need to put those dreary winter days behind you. Take a magical trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for five days of gorgeous wildflowers and stunning scenery unlike anywhere else on earth.
Guided Tours through a Lush Wilderness
Imagine the warm sun on your face and the fresh woodsy smell of the forest as you wander along the scenic trails of the Great Smoky Mountains. Squirrels and chipmunks skitter through the underbrush, busy with their spring tasks, as a doe and her fawn stop to drink from a cool stream. Overhead, the lush green trees form a canopy where dozens of birds sing to one another. And all around you is the spectacular proof of spring: thousands of wildflowers in full bloom.
Enjoy the peak of the wildflower season when you visit between April 24 and April 28, 2012. Spend time exploring on your own, or sign up for one of more than 130 professionally guided tours, where you’ll learn not only about the flowers and wildlife, but also about the culture and history of the area.
Specialty programs offer something for everyone at this year’s event. Experienced bird watchers will enjoy learning about the area’s unique species while on the birding excursion. "Going Natural in the Garden" helps you incorporate nature into your own landscape. And the "Scavenger Hunt" offers a fun, interactive way to learn about the area wildflowers.
Don’t Forget to Pack Your Camera
The hundreds of varieties of flowers, trees, and animals that call this region home will surely attract the attention of even the most casual of photographers. Delicate blooms surrounded by a sea of green, a tiny speckled fawn, or perhaps even a black bear basking in the sun would all make stunning photos to remember your spring excursion to the Smokies. And who knows? You might even win a prize.
Whether you’re a pro or simply love to snap a photo or two, you’re invited to participate in this year’s photography contest. A panel of judges will award prize ribbons to the winners in each of four categories, including flora, fauna, landscape, and youth produced. Prizes for the 2012 competition will be awarded on Friday, April 27, just prior to the Artisan Awards Ceremony.
Other Adventures Await You
When you’ve had enough of the peace and tranquility of the backcountry, head to Pigeon Forge for some good old family fun times at the area’s most famous attraction, Dollywood. From water slides to rollercoasters to musical entertainment, Dollywood has something to offer everyone in your group. Spend a day or a weekend taking in the sights and sounds of Tennessee’s favorite amusement park.
Celebrate the changing of the seasons with a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. No other place is as friendly, and nowhere else will you find the vast variety of flowers and wildlife you’ll enjoy during your Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.