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Fall colors in the Smoky Mountains

Spend a week in January learning and experiencing the history and present-day awesomeness of The Great Smoky Mountains with Wilderness Wildlife Week.

The engaging and interactive Wilderness Wildlife Week is back in person Jan. 25-29, 2022, in Pigeon Forge at The Ramsey Hotel and Convention Center. All week, there are opportunities for outdoor excursions, meeting and learning from experts on everything Smoky Mountains. There are vendors and exhibits too Visitors can browse booths with photography, local art, handmade goods, and more AND a photography competition. There’s going to be a dulcimer concert too.

A young black bear standing and grasping a tree.

Find the daily schedule here and we’ll tell you some of the highlights for this free and open-to-the-public annual event. Learn and ask all your questions.

Among the hands-on learning events (these are limited sessions and attendees must pre-register on site the day of the event) are “Learn to Weave a Small Doll Chair,” “Painting Nature in Oils,” “Thumbprint Painting” and “Snakes Alive.”

Additionally, experts (meet them here) will tell stories, lecture, have conversations, show you animals in person in the classroom and in the wild, share history and lead hikes throughout the week.

Abundant Learning

Learn Appalachian History with the Salt Maker. Study Rock Formations of the Smokies. Gain knowledge rom Bobby Lovell on The Lemons Hollow: Poetry and Lessons Learned from Mountain Folks.

Understand the beauty of wildflowers from Jack Carman, a graduate of Mississippi State University and a retired aeronautical engineer.

Learn Bobcat Facts and Behaviors Up Close and Personal with Rhonda Goins and Gail Stout. Goins has been employed for 14 years  at Bays Mountain Park where she works as a Naturalist.

Being from the southeast, her minors, Geography and Appalachian Studies, come in handy teaching the topography and our Appalachian ways. Rhonda has worked closely with wolves for over 14 years and has designed and implemented the socialization of the Park’s captive wolves.

Incredible Wild Edibles, The History of Bays Mountain, Winter Hummingbirds in East Tennessee – all on the schedule!

“I Wasn’t Supposed to Be There: Survival Lessons Learned” – doesn’t this sounds fascinating!

Body Farm

Another popular session will be “All About the Body Farm and Excerpts from Some of My Most Famous Cases” with Dr. Bill Bass, who is the founder of the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility, known worldwide as the Body Farm.

Dr. Bass was honored as National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In addition to teaching forensic anthropology, he is also author or coauthor of more than two hundred scientific publications. Dr. Bass and his students have revolutionized the field of forensic anthropology and assisted law enforcement in solving countless cases.

Learn about The Tennessee Butterfly Monitoring Network, Mount LeConte: Sacred Mountains of the Smokies and the Look & Touch Wildlife Program: Preserved Nongame Wildlife Specimens and Live Reptiles.


Always wondered about the Names & Places of the Smokies and Tennessee? Find out from Kathy Gwinn, a former History Teacher. Gwinn is an employee of Tour Guide for Smoky Mountain Tour Connection and has 15 years experience. She and her husband Mike, also perform music and storytelling and are known together as “Hills & Hollows”

Trails in the Smoky Mountains

Find out about The Nature of Travel Photography with Tom and Pat Cory. The Cory’s are professional photographers who have years of experience.  They’ve also taught and led numerous photo workshops and tours locally, nationally and internationally for more than 30 years.

There’s also a photography contest! SMOKIES THROUGH THE LENS PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST is sponsored by The Old Mill who is also sponsoring the 2022 Wilderness Wildlife Week Photography Contest. The sponsor states “the goal of this contest is to encourage participants to enjoy the beauty of nature and to share their experiences through photography.”

But, with multiple categories –scenic views, wildlife, black & white, manmade landmarks, close up (macros) – the competition focuses on Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Find information, rules, and submission form here. Submission deadline is Jan. 9, 2022. The images display will be available during Wilderness Wildlife Week.


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 14-mile strenuous hike to Rocky Top via Anthony Creek and everything in between. Led by expert guides.

Smoky Mountain hiking trails

Afterward, take a bus trip to the Quilt Inn with guide Kathy Gwinn. Gwinn is one of the best studied in regard to the history of what the earliest settlers of Appalachian life experienced.

Take a Pink Jeep tour – offered several days.

Also, there’s a Photo Safari of the Smokies and a trek into Cades Cove. Tour alongside guide Mark Snyder. He’s  referred to as “a walking history book of data of Cades Cove, its settlers, their triumphs and setbacks, as well as what life was like when Cades Cove was inhabited”, according to the excursion description.


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.

Plan your Wilderness Weak Adventure and Book your Stay!

No matter what unique adventures you choose in the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll want a cozy place to relax, hang out lay your head. However, if you want a treehouse experience, or one of our many beautiful cabins, American Patriot Getaways can help you decide.

Finally, 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.

Check out our luxury treehouse on Pinterest. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest area information!

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