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My experience in Gatlinburg Tennessee

by Sandy Jankovich on October 06, 2023

Fall evokes the greatest memories for me. Of course, I love our mild Florida winters and cool bright springtime’s, but there is just something about fall. Most everybody enjoys the change in weather that fall brings and one would agree it is visually enjoyable, but it brings with it so much more, it brings with it lifelong memories that we make and carry with us.

One of my favorite memories happened just two years ago the second week in October right before my 60th birthday. One of my dearest friends and I went on a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee. What an adventure that was! We saw the most beautiful foliage I have ever seen. And the Bears! Did we encounter the bears? I have attached a few pics here for you to see and will show and tell you more about the bears later.

The leaves that had been green the week before had now turned tan with brown neutrals, yellow with purple hues as we drove up the mountains, they were all floating to the ground. Breathtaking! Then, there were the eleven (11) Black Bears that we encountered! Just to name a few things that happened along the way, but more about wildlife later. It's not just the color changes that fall brings but it is the smells. Oh my, the smell! So, what do you love most about Fall? Is it curling up under your favorite throw with a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Frappuccino, or are you a fan of Dunkin’s Pumpkin Latte? Is it memories of being in a mountain log cabin or hiking through the woods listening to the sounds of your shoes crunching the fallen dried leaves underneath? Or is it the smell of a burning apple pie or a pumpkin pie candle? That’s got to be it!  I love Surf’s Up, it has the best pumpkin scented candles.

 It is all of the above for me, however, my visit to Gatlinburg brings back the best memories of fall for me. I had visited Gatlinburg 20 years earlier with my husband and had the best time, but this last trip was special because it was all new again, it was like seeing it for the first time. My friend (Tania) had been a Gatlinburg regular for years and she knew where to go, how to get there and her tour of the town was fantastic! One can only hope to spot a bear or a deer or two, but boy did we score! We saw not one, not two, not three but eleven, count them, 11 black bears! Then we saw a herd of deer! No joke. Every time we ventured out we ran across wildlife. Oh yeah, the wild turkeys were standing about 5 feet from us along one trail. 

 As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we heard yelling just outside our balcony and there was a sheriff’s deputy chasing a huge black bear with a rifle! We watched him chase that bear down the side road, across two parking lots, through our hotel breezeway trying to get him back into the woods. That was cool but the next day was better. We went to Cades Cove. If you have never visited Cades Cove in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, I highly recommend taking your entire family or going with some friends. It is an old settler area that is now a national park with original old churches, a graveyard or two and original log cabins hand built by early settlers. We went to see this cabin about a mile down the road up a small hill in the woods and saw their old watering system of hollowed out logs that were placed up the hill so water would run down the hill through those logs into this huge bathtub tin structure for bath water and into another fresh water basin. How neat was that! The next cabin we saw was next to an old sawmill which still had a working paddle wheel!

 After that we saw our second round of bears. We were driving along the park road and saw about 15 people across a field looking up at the trees. As we got closer, I saw they were looking at baby bear cubs up in the trees and yelled, “Tania they're looking up at baby bears pull over!”  We got out walked over and saw a park ranger who was holding everyone back at a safe distance in case Momma suddenly returned. There were at least 4 baby bears in the trees we saw moving around, most were sleeping. A couple times the cubs would doze off, jerk a little and scurry their butts up a bit higher it was definitely a once in a lifetime fall experience.  

Then, as we were leaving Gatlinburg stopped at a redlight, here comes a Momma bear and three cubs making a run for it across the busy main roadway! They stopped the cars in their tracks as they meandered across the road. WHOA! 

We encountered a lot of rain that was ongoing throughout the weekend but it was light ongoing rain (which I love being caught in) and with the cool crisp air and misty rain it made everything look brighter and richer in color so when I look back now I am glad it rained because that was another memory made from something I had never experienced before. To see the misty trees, and babbling brooks on the drive up and back through the rain was spectacular! Of course, seeing the eleven black bears while touring through Cades Cove and Gatlinburg was priceless!

As this time of year approaches when the leaves start to turn and fall to the ground when we put our fall decorations on display, I sit back and after I light the pumpkin or fall scented candle I’ll open the back door to let the cool air in (or turn the A/C down to 60) snuggle under my Vera Bradley blanket and think about my trip to Gatlinburg and wonder how many other people are there visiting Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge right now taking in the rainbow of colors creating memories of their in Gatlinburg and I smile. I hope they see bears, deer, wild turkeys and all the amazing wildlife magic that the Tennessee Mountains offer. I hope they enjoy their visit as much as I did mine so they can add their trip to Tennessee in their memory bank as one of their happy places! Did I mention the babbling brooks? There were babbling brooks all the way up and down the mountain. It was amazing darling, absolutely amazing!

My hope is that whoever is reading this blog has and creates new wonderful fall memories this year and every year that you cherish and reminisce about year after year. Maybe if we ever get the opportunity to meet in person one day, you can share your favorite fall memory that you think about every year with me.

Until next time,


Sandy Jankovich

Founder, Simply Amazing Boutique


From touring Cades Cove in the rain, to seeing the baby bear cubs, deer and wild turkeys it was definitely an experience!
1 comment
by Ashley Williams on November 27, 2023

The pictures are beautiful and so are your words. Fall brings up a youthful feeling for me.


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