An Autumn Drive Like None Other-Tail of the Dragon

Attention all driving enthusiasts! Check the calendar, and fit in one last spin before winter settles on the Great Smoky Mountains. Today is one of those glorious, sunny autumn days: perfect for running the “Tail of the Dragon”! If driving or riding is your pleasure, this is a can’t miss opportunity.

With 318 curves in an 11-mile stretch of roadway, there is very little to compare to this experience, nor is it easy to describe. Let’s just call it grown-up fun! Safety first, of course. This one is not about the scenery, but about the excitement of the road. For just one amateur’s take on the fun, view:

Highway 129 crosses the North Carolina and Tennessee state line. At the end of your journey, come relax with us in your Wears Valley, Tennessee cabin from Volunteer Cabin Rentals, near Townsend and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plot your day for your ride with this helpful link:

So create your own visible draft of swirling autumn leaves behind you, and enjoy the Dragon soon. What a ride!

Last Great Chance for a Good Scare-Kyker Farms After Dark

Ahhh, the sights and sounds of fall: crackling logs in the fireplace of your Sevierville cabin rental, multi-colored leaves tumbling in the breeze, strobe lights and chainsaws with screams of sheer terror or delight?

Yes, Kyker Frams Corn Maze is an annual limited engagement family fun time in the month of October. Located on a heritage farm homestead of 500-plus acres, the Kyker family creates the expected cornfield mazes (four to choose for the daytime), and a pick-your-own pumpkin field with a tractor-pulled hayride to and returning from the field.

There is also a clean playground area which features swings and tunnel slides, a straw bale crawl tunnel, a corn tub to swim in, and corn hole beanbag games. Families can also visit the critter barn to feed the farm animals, and a large bouncing pillow trampoline. Groups can enjoy using a bonfire pit and party area.

But a different fun begins “After Dark”: there are two opportunities for a spirited good time. First, the Zombie Blasterz, which is a ride through the woods with mounted paintball guns, where you can shoot at “real live” illuminated zombies, who don’t fire back at you. Just nail them mercilessly. Much fun!

If you prefer fear, try the Haunted Trail. Picture all of your nightmare creepies, and then put yourself on a footpath through a pitch-black cornfield. The place is full of nutty folk highly experienced in scaring the stuffing out of you, or whatever else comes out involuntarily when you scream.

It’s all in good fun, day or night. But hurry, here’s the link:

This is the last weekend to enjoy it all, though they will also be open next week on Halloween. We are all going, how about you?

Apple Barn Cider Mill and Village: Savor the Gifts of Autumn

When fall arrives in the Smoky Mountains, I always want to mark the season with the smells and tastes of autumn. In one pleasant stop, you can find immediate sensory gratification for yourself, and also harvest some quality items for your friends and family back home.

The Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store anchors a scenic complex, which is tucked between the Little Pigeon River and its hillside orchards. It is the perfect location to find all things apple, with quality souvenirs and gifts at reasonable prices. Most anyone would enjoy receiving a pottery apple baker dish with a bag of fresh apples, as an example. Cider made onsite and hand pies for immediate consumption also provide the energy needed to keep exploring the adjacent stores, which offer homemade ice cream, candy, and more. Jumpstart your gift ideas by seeing a portion of the merchandise available at

Two restaurants on the property also deserve your attention: Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and the Applewood Farmhouse Grill. Both are country cooking tasty, one serving family-style meals and the other an a la carte menu. Browse the menus for both locations at this link:

So after checking in to your Sevierville, Tennessee cabin rental, please don’t miss visiting this shopping and restaurant experience when you are here. Located just off the Parkway at traffic light 12.6, the Apple Barn Village is worth your attention as a truly delicious diversion. Enjoy!

Don’t Shut Down Your Vacation Plans Because of the Federal Government

So you have planned your entire visit to the Smokies: rented your luxury cabin in Gatlinburg, programmed your GPS to reach your destination, and made plans to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view the changing fall colors of the season. Congress has decided to close the National Park system, so now what? This is not a diatribe on the adversity that this shutdown creates for so many, but rather an encouragement to go through with your vacation plans to visit the area, but to slightly alter your activities. Disappointing? Yes, but certainly not a deal breaker to just stay home. Here’s why.

What’s open? Although many trailheads and the famous Cades Cove are currently closed, it is possible to drive through the Smokies and enjoy the foliage. The Spur from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina, along with the Newfound Gap parking area, and the Gatlinburg Bypass road all remain open. Accessing and driving through the park is still possible, and easily accomplished.

What’s closed? Visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds and trail heads are all currently temporarily closed. So think of visiting with a lack of conveniences available, sort of more wilderness at your own risk. The beauty of the Smokies in October is breathtaking. Your viewpoint may not be from the identical spot you desire to visit, but the natural wonders of our area do not stop and start at the Park boundary lines.

Oh, and Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are all completely open for business. We at Volunteer Cabin Rentals in Wears Valley will do all we can to suggest alternate options for you to enjoy while these closures are in effect. Please come. You will not regret your choice.


UPDATE: Due to special local funding, the GSMNP is open October 16-20. Past that remains to be seen. 

Xtreme Racing Center: Fulfill Your Need for Speed

“Get there fast and then we’ll take it slow”? Absolutely not. This one is for the guys-or anyone who has a passion for hanging a tight curve. After you have unloaded all your luggage and family into your Pigeon Forge, Tennessee cabin, rush on over to Xtreme Racing Center in Pigeon Forge for some fast-paced fun.

This is no wimpy, slow kid’s ride. This is helmeted action close to the ground, the fastest available in the area. The racing center features two types of professional grade go kart cars, capable of reaching speeds up to 30 and 40 miles per hour. Three race experiences are available on two tracks. Also available are double cars if you need to slow down slightly for a younger (or just more timid) family member. An excellent arcade is also available for a breather, if you need to check your heartrate.

Group outing? Great idea. All types of groups would enjoy this competitive outing. Hmmm, perhaps a future team building exercise for us here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals? This might also be your company’s style of fun.

So bring back the thrill of spinning out on your Big Wheel as a kid, or revving your engine at a stoplight as a teen. Pretend you are a hard-driving racing pro, or just beat your best buddy around the course. The big kid adrenaline rush never gets old!

Check it out at