Showcasing what makes the Smokies so special, Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge celebrates the abundance of wildlife, variety of plants, trees, and wildflowers, and rich history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee through a week-long series of classes, seminars, demonstrations, guided hikes, panel discussions, and workshops.
It’s been called one of America’s top wilderness education events, and it is held right here in the bustling mountain town of Pigeon Forge — home of Dollywood, WonderWorks, the Titanic Museum Attraction, and so many other family-friendly attractions that help make the city a fantastic vacation destination. Visitors to Wilderness Wildlife Week will have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the past, present, and future of the Smokies through hands-on experiences, with the backdrop of rolling mountains, sweeping fields, and plunging valleys. This annual Pigeon Forge event (held around mid-May) exemplifies what the area is all about!
Programs & Activities
Free and open to the public, Wilderness Wildlife Week features a wide range of programs and activities for children and adults. Guided hikes range in difficulty from easy to challenging, and different classes are geared towards beginners or advanced students in the different topics. The schedule and lineup change each year, but the first programs typically begin around 8 a.m. each day, and the last ones usually wrap up around 7:30 p.m. each day. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a number of programs, but some do have a limited number of spaces available. Attendees should pre-register for LIMITED! classes ahead of time. Classes and program topics in the past have included:
- Bird identification
- Wildlife photography
- Landscape photography
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail
- Camera basics
- Wood carving
- Fly fishing
- Photo editing
- Rock formations
- Old-time hymn singing
- Essential oils
- Bear encounters
- Nature writing
- Banjo playing
- Fossil sites
- Cougars in the Smokies
- Tree identification
- Nature drawing/sketching
- Changing weather and seasons in the Smokies
- Jewelry making
- Basket weaving
- Recycling and conservation
- And MORE!
Beyond the Smokies
Lectures, seminars, and workshops extend even beyond life in the Smokies. Many speakers in the past have talked about their experiences hiking, camping, living, or traveling in some of the country’s other top outdoor locations — Alaska, Everest, the Alps, and beyond. Many classes also focus on the history of the area, with topics covering the Civil War in the West, early Smoky Mountain settlers and pilgrims, the Trail of Tears, and Lewis & Clark. In the past, representatives and experts from the National Park Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources, Tennessee State Parks, and the University of Tennessee have been on hand to present valuable information about flora, fauna, history, and preservation. The blend of experts and presenters with real-world experience ensures a wealth of knowledge available to attendees.
And while many classes follow a lecture-style format, many others take the hands-on approach, giving participants the opportunity to really learn new skills or hone ones they’ve already shown an interest in. KIDS’ TRACK! programs on the agenda are geared towards kids of all ages and aim to offer unique experiences that children wouldn’t get anywhere else. Kids can participate in mountain crafts and learn about hiking and hiking gear, cartooning, Smoky Mountains history, pirates, fish, and more! It’s a great opportunity to get kids away from the TV and learning more about the world around them. Guided hikes will get kids and adults out into the great outdoors, providing opportunities to get some fresh air and see the nuances of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park firsthand.
Along with the classes, workshops, and guided hikes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge features vendor booths in an exhibit hall. Visitors can browse booths with photography, local art, handmade goods, and more. It’s the perfect place to pick up holiday gifts or special souvenirs that will help you remember your stay!
With so many different topics covered — hiking, wildlife, history, music, flora, and crafts — there is truly something for everyone during this outdoor-centered event in the Smokies. Whether in Pigeon Forge for a weekend or a week during the event, visitors will find plenty of things to do. The knowledge gained during Wilderness Wildlife Week will last a lifetime, and the only problem will be deciding how to choose which programs to attend…
Where to Stay
After learning, exploring, and playing all day, you’ll appreciate a cozy and comfy place to call home during Wilderness Wildlife Week. With tons of Pigeon Forge cabin rentals ranging from 1-16 bedrooms — each with homey conveniences and bonus amenities — Pigeon Forge, TN Cabins has you covered! Return to majestic mountain views with a glass of wine on deck, muscle-soothing hot tub soaks, chats with family and friends on the sofas, spa baths in the indoor jetted tub, movies in the private indoor pool, games in the rec room, and sweet dreams in king-size beds. Book ahead to ensure other Wilderness Wildlife explorers don’t steal your top choice — at 1.866.513.7885. Or reserve your cabin rental online with ease today!
Other Outdoor Fun
While you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, check out the other fun outdoor activities. You’ll never bore of the outdoor activities found in the Great Smoky Mountains!
- Go horseback riding or cycling.
- Enjoy a midday picnic along the Little Pigeon River.
- Take a scenic drive and stop off at an overlook.
- Fish in one of the many beautiful streams.
- Hike on one of the many national park trails — 800+ miles!
- Explore the historic structures at Cades Cove.
- Zipline 100s of feet in the air through the forest.
- Soar up to 30mph on a mountain coaster!