Gatlinburg, Tennessee has been celebrating Earth Day by extending the festivities for a whole week with Earth Week in Gatlinburg for the last several years, and 2016 boasts loads of events for family-friendly education regarding green practices for everyday living. There are plenty of opportunities to get your hands dirty, with festivities starting on April 18 and running through April 24th.

Many businesses, craftsmen, hotels and attractions have committed to the “Gatlinburg Goes Green” program to help reduce their impact on the environment. The city of Gatlinburg has been working hard since 1979 to reduce its’ overall impact on the environment, and it has done some amazing things since then like starting community projects, recycling initiatives, better chemical management, business incentives and so much more. The city continues to work hard to develop its’ environmental awareness and wants to pass that knowledge to the next generation with the Earth Week events.

Just when the mountains turn green in the springtime, Gatlinburg gears up for this week of festivities to give families and businesses the opportunity to give back and help teach the next generation the skills that will benefit nature for years to come.

Going Green Travel Tips
When visiting the Great Smoky Mountains, here are a few tips and tricks to incorporate into your “Going Green” experience:

  • Reuse sheets and towels during lodging to save water.
  • Use a large canvas or cloth shopping bag for your treasures.
  • Vacation in a fuel-efficient vehicle and carpool when possible.
  • Keep air conditioners set on economy.
  • Shop businesses who’ve pledged to Go Green.
  • Keep your showers short.
  • Try some local produce for a picnic instead of fast food.
  • Bring or rent a bike for the day.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle rather than the plastic singles.
  • Walk to nearby attractions instead of driving. Staying at a convenient location like Old Creek Lodge makes this easy!

Green Places to See
It’s only natural that a hike through the Great Smoky Mountains would be at the top of the Earth Day activity list. Be sure to leave no trace – only footprints. Picnic and enjoy the great outdoors, but be sure to take your garbage out with you and find appropriate recycling bins along the way. Stay on the marked trails and allow nature to take its course in the rest of the park.

Hike the waterfalls! Laurel Falls is only about 2.5 miles up, and Grotto Falls trail leads behind the cascade of water.

Drive the many different motor routes. Be sure to carpool, don’t toss out trash and don’t feed the wildlife! Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail passes historic buildings, beuatiful forests and mountain views. Cade’s Cove is an eleven mile, one-way loop that boasts history and wildlife viewing opportunities. Clingman’s Dome Road winds up to the tallest point in Gatlinburg and ends in a parking lot. From there, you can venture on foot to the observation tower.

Green Attractions to Visit
These businesses have taken the pledge to Go Green in Gatlinburg with recycling, energy programs, waste and construction management. They support the educational awareness Earth Day was founded on, so why not throw them some business?

  • Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is nestled just off the main drag in downtown. This is a beautiful school with on-campus housing for art students and a gallery boasting the work of local and resident artists. You may even be able to take a class or watch a demonstration.
  • Get a bird’s-eye view of the Smokies with the Ober Gatlinburg aeriel tramway. They have many other outdoor activities year-round.
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies pledged to Go Green. A beautiful aquarium nestled in the heart of Gatlinburg, this is a great indoor idea if you need a break from the heat or if it happens to rain on your trip!
  • If you fancy an out-of-the-box experience, try out The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum. Everything you could ever want to know or see in a salt and pepper shaker with over 20,000 sets on display.

Dates and Places
There are many events to get involved with for Earth Week, and the proceeds are put to good use to further green initiative projects.

  • April 19th is Spur Cleanup where you and your family can get “hands on” to help pick up trash in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This event starts at the Welcome Center.
  • April 20th is Clothing Collection Day. The GCVB Events Office will accept donations for local charities.
  • April 21st boasts the ninth annual Earth Day Festival in Mynatt Park for eco-friendly arts, crafts, demonstrations and music.
  • April 22nd, Earth Day! End the week with a 5K walk/run starting at Nantahala Outdoor Center.

There’s no better place than Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains to get close to Mother Nature and show support for the environment with Earth Week in Gatlinburg!

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