“Like a mountain in springtime.” Singer John Denver had it right. The Smoky Mountains, in particular, are beautiful in bloom. The online site GORP, Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, named Great Smoky Mountains National Park one of its Top 10 Parks for Spring because of its 1,500 flowering plants, most of them at their loveliest.
The area celebrates annually with a three-month Smoky Mountain Springfest centered in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, within a trolley ride from the national park and about an hour’s drive from Knoxville. Springfest, which began in March and continues through the second week in June, brings Gatlinburg streets to life with daffodils, tulips, petunias and other spring flowers decorating city streets, and live entertainment downtown. Also in April, the national park’s Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage offers a week with 150 nature hikes over a week, from easy to strenuous. Botanists will accompany the hikers.
In May, Gatlinburg celebrates all things Scottish, with a Grand Parade followed by a gathering of clans at the Scottish Festival & Games. There will be haggis, bagpipes, highland dancing, border collie contests and whiskey tasting along with the athletics. A fine arts festival will continue the May events.
Visitors will find plenty of places to stay and things to do, including rafting in the Smokies at Smoky Mountain Outdoors, in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.