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Wilderness Wildlife Week Set for 32nd Year in Pigeon Forge

Get into the wild of the Great Smoky Mountains during Wilderness Wildlife Week Jan. 22-25.

Celebrate the natural features, creatures, and cultures of the Great Smoky Mountains with wildlife experts, panel discussions, craft classes and excursions through the mountains during this FREE event, now in its 32nd year.

“Showcasing what makes the Smokies so special, Wilderness Wildlife Week celebrates the abundance of wildlife, variety of plants, trees, and wildflowers, and rich history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.”

The engaging and interactive Wilderness Wildlife Week  is in person and online in Pigeon Forge at The Ramsey Hotel and Convention Center. There will be vendors and exhibits too. Visitors can browse booths with photography, local art, and handmade goods. There’s also a photography competition that anyone can enter.

Online signups for classes and excursions begin on January 8, 2024.


“Our commitment is to create and provide an enjoyable and enriching series of walks, talks and workshops, as well as informative and entertaining exhibits to encourage attendees to know more of the abundant opportunities available in this beautifully diverse area. In combining efforts from well-qualified authorities, Wilderness Wildlife Week has benefited attendees additionally by providing presentations and information from other regions of the country as we strive to illustrate how all life is truly connected.”

It’s a great opportunity to ask all your questions about nature in the Great Smoky Mountains, and to get out in it!

Among the classes are presentations about everything from reptiles to raptors, wildflowers, edible plants and catching bass. There’s a Kid’s Tract – adults are welcome too.

Check out some of the classes:

And Music – there will be music!

Smokies Through the Lens Photography Contest

Submissions are now open for the 2024 photography contest! This contest aims to encourage participants to enjoy nature’s beauty and share their experiences through photography. Submitted images will be displayed during Wilderness Wildlife Week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

For categories and criteria, rules and regulations, and to submit your entry, check out this link. Submissions End: Midnight, January 7, 2024

PRIZES: One Best of Show Ribbon, along with $50 will be awarded to the image the judges deem to have the best overall image quality while representing the spirit of wilderness and wildlife found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All first-place winners in all categories are eligible for the Best of Show award. The image awarded Best in Show, 1st Place, 2nd Place, or 3rd place winners may be included in Wilderness Wildlife Week promotions. honor. All qualified images will be digitally displayed during Wilderness Wildlife Week, along with the winning photos, which will also be printed and displayed.


Don’t just talk about the Smokies – live them! Daily excursions include hikes of all distances and intensities – from easy 1- and 2-mile walks to an all-day 13-mile strenuous hike to Mt. Creek and everything in between. Led by expert guides.

There also are Pink Jeep tours to take visitors on scenic and educational tour of the Elkmont Historic District during which an experienced guide will show you many sights of beauty not found by the normal visitor to the area, including a short off-road experieWe love Cades Cove – check out our blog post about reasons to visit any time of year. Then while you’re in town, you’ll want to do even more. See our blog posts on The Best Views in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and 8 Local Favorite Lunch Spots in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Check out the Day 1 excursions:


7:30 AM-3 PM Guide: Todd Hurst This will be an interesting hike for those who know of the devastating fires the Smokies endured in late November 2016. The Chimneys were closed for an extended period and has only recently partially reopened. You will be able to ascertain some of the destruction and regrowth as you journey up a portion of the trail to where the gate area is located due to the uncertain terrain above. The views at the top are well worth the hike. Please bring water, snack, sturdy boots/shoes. 7:30 AM-2:00 PM Guide: Keith Watson Birding lovers, this is the hike for you. The hike is mostly on a mowed grass trail, with paved roads and walkways on sections.

What Will You See:

Bring your binoculars as your guide will be able to point out and discuss some of up to 190 species of birds, and from novice to professional birders will be rewarded for the experience. This park was named  for 2023 by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. 9:30 AM- 3:30 PM Guide: Stella Koret The original trail is arguably the oldest or earliest route to Mount LeConte. The trail begins off Cherokee Orchard road and you will be rewarded for your climb by the beautiful Rainbow Falls of LeConte Creek and the 82 foot drop of the falls.

The mist reflecting in the sunlight gives the falls its name. Please bring water, a snack, rain gear and sturdy hiking boots/shoes. You will cross LeConte Creek at least twice. 8:30 AM – 3:45 PM Come and hike with a Llama on this old historic trail. You will first learn about the Llamas and go over some instructions in a short lesson from Dr. Higgins. You will hike the wide footpath, following an old road bed and there is one stream crossing while you learn about the history of the C.C.C. camp and the Old Cemetery on the Old Sugarlands Trail. Children 6 years and older are welcome on this hike if they accompanied by a parent/ legal guardian. Please wear good hiking boots/shoes, bring a lunch or snack and water.

Bus trips:

Cades Cove and Little River Tour (Easy to Moderate) 9:00 AM – 4 PM Guide: Kathy Gwinn Highlights on this trip would include the history of the families in Cades Cove, history of the Civil War in the Cove, the Cherokee in the area, logging and C.C.C. camp in the area. There will be some walking back to the churches, cabins, cemeteries etc… You will need to bring a sack lunch and water for a picnic style lunch break. Pink Jeep Tours You will have a chance to take a scenic and educational tour of the Elkmont Historic District. Your experienced guide will show you many sights of beauty not found by the normal visitor to the area, including a short off-road experience!

We love Cades Cove – check out our blog post about reasons to visit any time of year. Then while you’re in town, you’ll want to do even more. See our blog posts on The Best Views in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and 8 Local Favorite Lunch Spots in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.


For the first time, the hikes, bus trips, jeep tours, specialty and craft classes will be posted on the mypigeonforge.com website starting. There will be a list and description of each activity.


1. All excursions originate only from the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center. For all excursions and activities, participants may not meet at the trail head or starting point of excursion.
2. It is essential that participants be at the designated assembly point (Hike Desk) for each hike on time. The first 15 minutes will consist of a hike orientation and completion of certain administrative requirements. Absence from this orientation may result in the loss of the participant’s place on the excursion to an alternate participant.
3. Participants absent from the initial roll call for the bus loading will be replaced by an alternate participant, after the entire list is announced.


Book a Gatlinburg Cabin with a hot tub so you’ll have the perfect place to unwind under the stars.  Be sure you check out all our amazing featured deals so you can get the best price for your synchronized firefly vacation or your pancake extravaganza!

Give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169. Let our experts help you find the right cabin. They can also point you toward the right fun, food and entertainment for your perfect Smoky Mountains vacation.

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