Posts Tagged ‘Wilderness Wildlife Week’

Pigeon Forge Winterfest Kickoff Set for Nov. 12 at Patriot Park

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 24, 2013) – Pigeon Forge, Tenn., will launch its 24th annual Winterfest celebration Nov. 12 with festivities in Patriot Park that conclude with the illumination of five million Winterfest lights throughout the city and a fireworks display.

The lead-up to the evening’s activities will be the city’s third annual Salute to Veterans Parade on the Parkway.

Pigeon Forge Winterfest is a mixture of holiday celebrations, themed special events and millions of decorative lights. That combination created a new visitor season for Pigeon Forge when Winterfest started in 1990.

After the Winterfest Kickoff, businesses throughout the city offer special activities, theaters add a Christmas flair to their shows for two months and the city itself presents two major special events in January and February – Wilderness Wildlife Week and Saddle Up.

Pigeon Forge Winterfest continues through Feb. 28, 2014, offering winter activity throughout this gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Among the events on the calendar:

  • Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas (Nov. 9-Dec. 30), with a variety of Christmas shows, holiday foods, crafts and a park-wide display of another four million holiday lights to complement those in the city;
  • Watch for snow to fall over the Titanic Museum Attraction through November and December.
  • Trolley Tour of Lights (Monday-Friday nights from Nov. 12-Dec. 31), narrated rides through Pigeon Forge on the Fun Time Trolley system to see all of the major Winterfest light displays
  • Wilderness Wildlife Week (Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2014), a city-sponsored week of special programs about Great Smoky Mountains National Park and numerous other outdoor topics at the new LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge;
  • Saddle Up! (Feb. 19-23), a city-sponsored celebration of cowboy poetry, western music and the American West at the new LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.

Complete visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at or by calling 1-800-251-9100.


Tom Adkinson, APR


2012 Was Very, Very Good for Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park rose to 9,685,828 in 2012. That’s a 7.5 percent jump, making 2012 the biggest year since the 10.1 million visitors in 2000, which remains the record.

Park management credited mild weather last winter and spring as a big factor. Every month in 2012 had more visitors than the same month in 2011.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

December’s count was 480,527, up from 471,603. That was despite the closure of the Newfound Gap Road between the Sugarlands Visitors Center and Cherokee, N.C., for all or part of six days because of ice and snow. The Christmas and New Year’s holidays brought large numbers of visitors to the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 800 square miles of natural beauty, is the most visited national park in the United States.

The national park is the primary focus of Wilderness Wildlife Week, a project of the City of Pigeon Forge. It offers eight days of free programming and activities about the park and numerous other outdoor topics.

Wilderness Wildlife Week takes place at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center.

‘Wildlife Week’ Draws Guests from 33 States

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (January 2012) – Wilderness Wildlife Week, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.’s, annual salute to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, expanded its reach by attracting visitors from 33 states and the District of Columbia. That’s six more states than in 2011.

In addition, travelers from New Zealand, England and Canada also registered their attendance.

“The international guests were an unexpected treat. More important, however, is that this special event appealed to travelers from so many states. That really validates the reach of tourism during Pigeon Forge Winterfest,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

The 22nd annual presentation of Wilderness Wildlife Week offered 288 programs, hikes, excursions and owl prowls from Jan. 7-14.

It began in 1991 to draw attention to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to attract winter visitors.  It is part of the city’s Winterfest celebration that runs November through February.

Cumulative attendance at the week’s programs totaled 24,630, a record. Snowy weather held that figure to 18,450 in 2011.

Forty-eight hikes and excursions of varying lengths ventured into the national park and attracted 630 participants who collectively hiked 3,705 miles. Hiking mileage has been tracked for eight years, and the total now is 21,223 miles.

“Wilderness Wildlife Week hikes help people burn a lot of calories. We have 57 people who have hiked more than 100 miles with us, 10 who have hiked more than 200 miles, one who has hit 300 miles and two who have recorded 400 miles,” Downey said.

More than 150 experts in wildlife, photography, mountain history, wildflowers and other subjects volunteered their time to lead programs. All of the week’s indoor programs were at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center.

Dates for Wilderness Wildlife Week 2013 are January 12-19.

Pigeon Forge’s next special event is Saddle Up, a celebration of cowboy poetry, western music and chuckwagon cooking. Dates are Feb. 23-26, and details are available online at or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.