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 October 3, 2023
The next time you drive through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, keep one thing in mind. Everything you see around you - every hotel, attraction, restaurant and retail establishment - is there because of crafts.
How so? In the 1920s, teachers from the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg began teaching handicraft skills to community members while also seeking to revive traditional crafts that had been embedded into the lifestyles of locals for centuries. The crafts produced through weaving, furniture making and basket making became the inventory of a new enterprise called the Arrow Craft Shop.
However, when Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened in 1940, the members of Pi Phi built a new Arrowcraft (new spelling) Shop to house the work of more than 90 local artisans. Visitors traveling to the mountains began to purchase these authentic crafts, and the local tourism industry was born. Years later, when Pigeon Forge Pottery made its debut, it became the first tourism-oriented venture in that city and helped to spread the foundation of crafts throughout the area.
The Arrowcraft Shop still operates in downtown Gatlinburg today, adjacent to the campus of the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, which was established in 1969. This 38,000-square-foot facility contains galleries, workshops, libraries and even dormitories where local and visiting artists from all over the world can learn or enhance their arts-and-crafts skills.
Further evidence of the solidity of crafts in the area is the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, which is located on the north end of Gatlinburg. It's essentially a triangular loop formed primarily by Glades Road and Buckhorn Road but also U.S. Hwy. 321 (to a lesser degree). This eight-mile, self-guided auto tour will take you past some 100 different craft studios, galleries and shops, most of which feature authentic, hand-crafted works created daily by local artisans.
The range of craft work you'll find in the community is staggering and includes everything from pottery, baskets, quilts and stained glass to brooms, candles, woodwork and traditional paintings and photography. Often, you'll be able to watch the crafters at work in their studios, and, of course, you can always shop their inventory of pieces and purchase your favorites.
Dollywood theme park is another bastion of crafts in the Smokies. One particular section of the park, Craftsman's Valley, is like a miniature version of the Arts & Crafts Community, with a concentration of craft studios and shops. You'll find many of the craft categories mentioned above as well as more traditional skills like blacksmithing and glass blowing. While Dollywood hosts its community of resident crafters each year, guest artisans from across the country come to the theme park each autumn for its Harvest Festival. During that special event, you'll find these additional crafts people at kiosks located throughout the park.
Finally, there are lots of special craft events that take place in the Smokies each year. For example, the Arts & Crafts Community hosts craft shows for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, and the Rotary Club in Pigeon Forge stages a month-long craft fair under the giant tent at Patriot Park. One of the largest and most popular events is the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair, which takes place each summer and fall.
Shopping for crafts is fun. But you know what's also fun? Ziplining! You might say that we've made ziplining Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg an art form in its own right. Smoky Mountain Ziplines has seven amazing ziplines, a vertical descent feature and some of the most jaw-dropping views of the Smokies you'll find anywhere.