Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on March 27, 2018
The history of arts and crafts in the Great Smoky Mountains is substantial. In fact, once upon a time, skills like broom making and woodworking weren't even considered art forms. They were ways of life that were necessary to survival in the mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries. But even as modern ways came to the Smokies, these craft forms managed to live on, getting passed down from generation to generation.
Crafts even played a major role in the development of tourism in the Smokies, as local residents began selling their wares to visitors coming to explore what was then the newly formed Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, the very first tourist-oriented business in Pigeon Forge was a pottery shop dating back to the 1940s.
Even today, the legacy of the area's craft history lives on, particularly in one part of Gatlinburg – the Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community. The community is made up of more than 100 shops, studios and galleries located along an eight-mile loop formed by Glades Rd., Buckhorn Rd. and U.S. Hwy. 321. And it's no Johnny-come-lately. The community was established in 1937 and today is designated as a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail.
Those who visit the community's many artisans will discover a wide variety of art and craft forms, including woodwork, painting, sewing, candle making, basketry, quilting, broom making, pottery, jewelry, doll making, ceramics, leather, fine photography, wearable fashions and more. Collectively, these crafts people are helping preserve the rich traditions of the area's past while providing today's visitors to the Smokies with opportunities to take home an authentic bit of Appalachian culture.
One of the unique aspects of the Arts & Crafts Community is its accessibility. It's just a few miles north of downtown Gatlinburg, and the shops offer free parking for guests. Once you're at a particular studio, you're welcome to browse and even watch the craftsmen at work if they're on site. They're always glad to answer questions and give their guests an up-close look at their unique process. Most shops are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
In addition to the craft studios, the community is also home to businesses like restaurants, cafes, tearooms and candy shops. This makes it easy to stay the entire day if you like, stopping every now and then for a meal or a snack between galleries.
The Arts & Crafts Community is easy to find. From downtown Gatlinburg, you take U.S. Hwy. 321 east a few miles until you get to Glades Rd. If you're coming toward Gatlinburg on U.S. 321 from the Cosby, TN, area, you would turn right when you get to Buckhorn Rd. Or you might even come in from Pigeon Forge on Bird's Creek Rd, in which case, you'd eventually arrive at the intersection of Glades and Buckhorn.
The Gatlinburg trolley system also serves the community, so you could take a trolley car from downtown or park your car near a trolley stop inside the community and use the trolley to get around the various galleries and studios for the day.
You might also be interested to know that the community will be presenting its annual Easter Show this Thursday through Saturday, March 29 through 31 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Unique handcrafted gifts and products from community members will be displayed at the show, and guests will get to see plenty of craft demonstrations as well.
We also hope you'll make it a point this weekend to get out and enjoy some time in the mountains, which could include hanging out with us for a few hours at our Smoky Mountain zip line attraction. We're having a great time already this spring, and we think you'll find that we've elevated having fun in the Smokies to an art form in itself.