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'Take Me to the Mountains' in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

If there’s one thing Gatlinburg, Tennessee wants you to know ... With the exception of several family homes and a few businesses, the downtown core of popular Gatlinburg was virtually untouched by the fires, although visitor numbers dropped significantly ...

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'Take Me to the Mountains' in Gatlinburg, Tennessee //id:"+t+"; typeof obj: "+typeof i))}function p(){var r,u,n,t;if(e.length&&!i){do for(r=e,u=r.length,e=[],i=1,t=0;t1);i=0}else i&&(i=2)}function it(i,r){for(var s,v,h,u=[],c=r?r.length:0,e=0;e .storyimage.smallfullwidth .image,.storyimage.smallfullwidth img{background:#000;margin:0 auto}#toast-container{display:none}.mobile .galleryinfo .img-divider{display:none} #main .one-col, #main .two-col, #main .three-col{margin-right:-.016rem;margin-left:-.016rem}.homepage.midlevel .pagingsection>,.channelplayerpage.midlevel .pagingsection>{display:none} Home News Weather Entertainment Sports Money More > Lifestyle Health & Fitness Food & Drink Travel Autos Video lifestyle You are using an older browser versionPlease use a supported version for the best MSN experience. 'Take Me to the Mountains' in Gatlinburg, Tennessee TravelPulse 1 day ago Scott Laird If there’s one thing Gatlinburg, Tennessee wants you to know, it’s that they’re open for business.The forest fires that ran through the region in December 2016 received a lot of media coverage, but recovery efforts weren’t as well publicizedWith the exception of several family homes and a few businesses, the downtown core of popular Gatlinburg was virtually untouched by the fires, although visitor numbers dropped significantly during 2017.My recent visit to Gatlinburg drew some surprises.I hadn’t been to the area before and was excited to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park—the most visited national park in the countryThat was exactly what most people I spoke with raved about when they found out Gatlinburg was my destination(Others mentioned moonshine and airbrushed t-shirts.)Not quite sure exactly what I was getting myself into, my apprehension melted during the hour-long drive from the airport in Knoxville.I was quickly enchanted by ancient farmhouses punctuating the rolling green hills that grew into foothills and then mountains as I reached Gatlinburg proper, which turned out to be equal parts roadside attraction and alpine resort.At first, the place appeared to appeal to the middling sort wooed by spectacle (and airbrushed t-shirts)But beneath the surface, there are heartfelt, deeply American stories that reflect a proud regional heritage and resilience in a sometimes unforgiving country frequently tread upon by unfamiliar visitors.“A hundred years ago, they used to come because they were curious about what mountain people looked like,” said Jann Peitso during a visit to her watercolor gallery in the Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Village“They’d come with their phonographs and make the mountain people sing their Elizabethan Era ballads and talk into them because they were so different.”She went to on to describe the efforts of Pi Beta Phi, the women’s fraternity that founded a settlement school in Gatlinburg during 1912 based on reports of the desperate need for education in Appalachia.During the course of the schooling, they became familiar with the centuries-old arts and crafts traditions and began encouraging the local artisans to sell their creations to raise money and support their households.Today, the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts still occupies prime space in Downtown Gatlinburg, and crafters visit from all over the world to learn techniques in woodworking, ceramics, glass making, and more.Back at the Arts & Crafts Community— an eight-mile loop where visitors can shop for craft such as quilts, beadwork, pottery, jewelry, silverwork, leather, scrimshaw and other locally made items—many of the artisans are still working in or near family homes, producing their wares in time-honored ways that have changed little over the centuries.Rising above the school is the chairlift belonging to Anakeesta, which bought the mountain acreage from Pi Beta Phi in 2014 with an eye toward maintaining stewardship of the land in ways that would continue the group’s tradition of bringing economic growth to the communityNewly opened this year is the lift, which offers both open chairs and enclosed gondolas.It rises to the mountain summit to a tree house village that offers hiking, local crafts, food and beverage, zip lines, and a tree canopy walk where visitors can swing on sturdy rope bridges from viewing platform to viewing platform, taking in views of the forest and possibly wildlife.Future projects at Anakeesta include more scenic dining options, a mountain coaster ride and event amphitheaterFor now, the breathtaking views of the mountains and town are enough to merit the price of admission.Once atop the mountain, it’s almost otherworldly—with fresh, wood-scented air and the sounds of forest and visiting families for company.There’s a distinctly alpine resort feel to the place, not only at the newer Anakeesta but also the Germanic-flavored Ober Gatlinburg, which is an honest-to-goodness ski area and attraction park that wouldn’t be out of place in the AlpsPlenty of the buildings around town—if not in the arts & crafts style—are particularly alpine in character.For drinkers in the heart of Gatlinburg, there is more than one Ole Smoky Moonshine tasting roomMoonshine, for the uninitiated, is whiskey that hasn’t been barrel-aged, making it suitable for flavoring in other ways. © Travalliancemedia Owned Media (Staff Photo) PHOTO: Tree canopy walk at Anakeetsa in Gatlinburg, Tennessee(photo by Scott Laird) Five dollars will get you a tasting (and plenty of redneck drinking jokes) of everything from moonshine-soaked peaches to apple pie, blue flame and eggnog flavored variantsMoonshine was popular during Prohibition because it could be produced cheaply and distributed quickly out of sight of the authorities, and it’s become an indelible symbol of the region’s somewhat rebellious heritage.It’s best to schedule a nap for afterward.The crown jewel of the area is the National Park itself, where even a short scenic drive is worth the time and effort.The misty morning I ascended to the peak of Newfound Gap—where the area was proclaimed a national park by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934—fall foliage was still vibrant, wild turkeys grazed on the roadsides, and the misty rains slipped in and out of the valleys making the colors pop and the sense of calm more etherealOn clear days, nearby Clingman’s Dome is a popular vantage point.It’s hard not to be enchanted by the area’s natural beautyBut after exploring for just one weekend, it’s easy to sympathize with the sentiments written on the souvenir stickers for sale in the gift shop at Anakeesta: Take me to the mountains Go to MSN Home More in Travel The Travel Advice You Need to Hear, Based on Your Zodiac Sign Travel + Leisure 33 trips everyone should take in the US in 2018 INSIDER Iceland Is Magical and These Photos Prove It House Beautiful Airport secrets officials don't want you to know Love Exploring The 14 Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2018 Reader's Digest The Best Scenic Drives in the US for an Epic Road Trip //> 1); } } else { // if we got here, we didn't find anything but scriptTry again later. setTimeout(checkAndSetAdContainerVisibilityRec, contentCheckTimeout); } } } function checkVisibilityAndUpdateRenderDataContextForElement(renderData) { if (!renderData) { return; } evaluateAdContent(renderData); } function evaluateAdContent(renderData) { var adContainer = renderData && renderData.elem; if (!adContainer) { renderData.adSizeType = AdSizeType.Inconclusive; } var adIframeCollection = adContainer.getElementsByTagName("iframe"); var evaluationResult; for (var adIframe, ndx = 0; (adIframe = adIframeCollection[ndx]); ++ndx) { // skip script-only iFrame elements var body = ((adIframe.contentDocument || (adIframe.contentWindow || {}).document) || {}).body; if (!body || !body.hasChildNodes()) { continue; 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