Smoky Mountain Trip Days 6 & 7: Dollywood, Grotto Falls, & Aquarium of the Smokies

 We decided to spend the day at Dollywood on Thursday and it could not have worked out better! The weather was just beautiful for a day in the park and it didn't feel all that crowded either; we waited in just one or two long lines and all the rest were less than 15 minutes.  

This was my FAVORITE ride of the day-- The Wild Eagle







Yummy turtle tracks ice cream-- another favorite!


We toured Dolly's tour bus

And the replica of her family home

We went back to the house for a bit and then headed out to dinner at The Chop House.  Our GPS took us a new way up the mountain and the roads were gravel in some parts!  However the view at the top was pretty amazing.

Those yellow switchbacks were all gravel (and oh so steep!) Notice it estimates it will take us 12 minutes to drive 2.6 miles.. 


We made it home in time for another pretty sunset.



Our last day in Tennessee (Friday July 15th) we wanted to squeeze in one last hike and talked the boys into going to Grotto Falls.  The Roaring Fork road we had to drive to get there and back down the mountain (it's a one way one lane road) was so pretty and scenic!  It was my favorite hike of the trip.

Luckily we found a place to park near the Grotto Falls trailhead and hiked out to the falls in no time. The trail follows along and crosses a creek a few times so the sounds of running water are nearby for just about the whole hike with a few glimpses of smaller waterfalls along the way. It's a pretty easy hike and we loved walking right under the falls!








Under the falls looking out








I later compared our excursions in the park to the entire park map.. it seems like we barely saw anything when you look at it this way!

The park is outlined in dark green and shows all the trails in the park as well as the roads

I highlighted those parts we covered in yellow



The road dumps you out in another spot in Gatlinburg which we were fine with since we had plans to hang out there for the afternoon anyway.  My husband and Ian went to the Hollywood car museum while the younger boys, myself, and my mother in law went to the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  

It was just incredible to see all the traffic and "stuff" lining the sides of all the roads everywhere.  I visited as a kid and this area was not nearly so developed!














 They were waiting for us when we got out of the aquarium and we decided to head to lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. before heading back to the house for the afternoon.


We went back to the house and the boys all played a few games of pool and cards and I spent my afternoon reading in the hot tub.  We all packed everything back up and enjoyed one last sunset before heading out the next morning. 



It was a great trip and I was so happy to cross one more national park off my list.


Linking up with:












Comments

  1. So much fun! Thanks for sharing :) Holly @ Pink Lady

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  2. Fun! Did you know that Mr. Nine and I eloped in Gatlinburg? It actually makes us very sad how developed and busy it has gotten. But what wonderful hikes. We actually did one on our honeymoon years ago and thought we would never make it out of the woods it’s a long story and when we tell often!

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    1. That is such a fun fact and I had no idea!

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  3. I don't think we saw anywhere near as much as you!

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  4. So glad y'all were able to see new areas and Grotto Falls looks like a fun area. I have not been there before. That's great to hear you didn't have super long waits at Dollywood. It was recently voted best theme park in the USA!

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    1. Oh we knew; they had signs all over the place! LOL. They also were voted best pulled pork sandwiches and.. something else too. It was definitely a very family friendly and clean park.

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  5. What a fun couple of days! I'd love to take the kids to Dollywood sometime! They'd love it!

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    1. OH I bet they would! They had lots of great family roller coasters and rides and shows.

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  6. I love your photos! Dollywood is on my bucket list. I love Tennessee, it's so beautiful!

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    1. Thank you! It was a fun week. I had been to Dollywood once when I was a kid and it was fun to go back as an adult.

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  7. So beautiful. Regine
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  8. What a fun few days. I want to go to Dollywood!

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  9. I agree with you about Pigeon Forge. When we went there for the first time in 1974, it was just a little burg. I'm sure it's been good for the local economy, but it's a pain to try to navigate. We haven't been there in years just because it was so crowded. Mike insists we visited there when it was still Silver Dollar City, but I don't remember that. Love all of the hiking pictures!

    https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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    1. We were in the ice cream/ candy store at the park and a couple came in talking about how they got engaged there back when it was Silver Dollar City. It was really neat to hear them reminiscing; Dollywood opened in 1986 (it was originally known as Rebel Railroad from 1961-1970 then became Goldrush Junction or "Goldrush" until 1977 when it became Silver Dollar City).

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  10. I love how you do such a variety of things Joanne. We were actually thinking of Dollywood (well, that area) as a place to go this Christmas, but I think we've settled on Palm Springs.
    Walking behind the waterfalls...how cool is that.
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Ooh! Palm Springs will be wonderful too. We were just talking about going to Florida NEXT Christmas. We've never been a Christmas trip family but it works best with everyone's schedules now.

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  11. What amazing memories you got to make! Those sunsets are just gorgeous, too!

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    1. The sunsets were just spectacular and so unexpected!

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  12. We love the Great Smoky Mountains! It is only a 6 hour drive for us so we have been there and Gatlinburg a few times. It was fun to see your pictures and find out more about what else we could do when we go next. We haven't been to Dollywood yet but you made it look really fun!

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    1. It is a lot of fun! I think it was a definite highlight for us... but we are an amusement park kind of family.

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  13. My late beloved hubby and I went to The Smokies to camp in Cades Cove way back in the early 1970’s. I thought it was one of the most beautiful spots on earth. I would love to go back. Thank you for sharing your pictures and all the fun that you had.

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  14. Tennessee is one of my favorite places to visit! We've been by Dollywood a couple times, but haven't gone there yet. I've been so curious! Looks like loads of fun!

    Alexandra
    OnRockwoodLane.com
    EyeLoveKnots.com

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    1. It is a lot of fun, and a very clean, family friendly park with something for everyone.

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  15. Looks like a really fun trip! Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains are on my bucket list!

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    1. We're trying to hit up all (well, MOST) of the national parks; a new goal we set just a couple years ago. After reading rather extensively about them there are a few I am more than content to pass by.

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  16. We are going to Piegon Forge and Gaitlinburg next month. What was your thoughts about Dollywood? Was the Bush's festival busy? Did you enjoy it? any information will be greatly appreciated it

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    1. We loved Dollywood; it was definitely a highlight of our trip. We didn't go to the Bush's festival so I can't say how busy that was but the park wasn't all that busy on the day we went. Some rides had long lines but with their app on our phones we were mostly able to work around the crowds. As soon as we entered the park we went left and worked through the park clockwise from there; but we have big kids that wanted all the roller coasters.

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  17. Looks like a lovely family vacation. Nice weather, good food, lots of activities, and beautiful scenery! Perfect! #weekendcoffeeshare

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  18. Joanne, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. Your trip looks so much fun. The waterfall pictures are fabulous. Natalie

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  19. That is so funny that Grotto Falls was your favorite hike of the Smokey Mountains because it was my least favorite. I never made it to Dollywood, but I wish I did.

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    1. LOL! I thought it was so pretty and picturesque... but it might also have been the fact that it was the nicest hike we took weather-wise too; as that often colors my opinion of the hike.

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  20. What a beautiful place and I love the sunsets that you captured, stunning. Glad you guys had an awesome time. :)

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    1. We enjoyed those sunsets every night! They were just beautiful.

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  21. What a great virtual coffee share. There is nothing better then sipping coffee and looking a photo journal of fun adventures (except sipping coffee and taking the pictures). Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Oh so true! I love reading travel posts and seeing everyone's photos.

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  22. I had so much fun reading through all three of your trip posts! I lived in northern Georgia almost 30 years ago, and my husband and I went to the Smokies every chance we got. It's so beautiful there.

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  23. Hi Joanne - it looks like a beautiful place to holiday and also with the added attractions of Dollywood and the Aquarium (and all that great food) it sounds like you had the perfect vacation time with the family (I like the book + hot tub best!)

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    1. It was a perfect vacation with the family... and I always try to squeeze in some relaxing time with a good book!

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  24. It looks like such a great trip! I'm loving those waterfalls! And I'd like to visit Dollywood one day!

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    1. We had such a great time! There are so many waterfall hikes in the smokeys that it was tough to pick which ones to try and we were so lucky that they had quite a few rain storms sprinkled in throughout our trip that the rivers were raging.

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  25. What an awesome trip. I loved all your photos.

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  26. I don't think I've ever been to Grotto Falls...going to add that to my list too. :-)

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    1. It's a nice, easy hike but parking can be tough since there isn't much there.

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