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The Busy Season

IMG_0886It is officially here, “The Busy Season”! The week of July 4th is one of the busiest of the entire year, with thousands of people descending on our little town to enjoy the beauty of the nature around them and to steal a little bit of our small town charm for their memories. We love this time of year because there is so much going on and there are tons of people around to help boost our small town economy, but this also means that we will be working ourselves to death until the visitors leave. We are okay with working overtime right now though, because in a seasonal town like this you have to make up for January, February, and March when you can.

Even though we find ourselves working a lot during this time of the year we also find time to still enjoy the beautiful place that we call home,  and we would like to share with you some of the things that you should not miss out on seeing/doing when you are in town.

1. Deep Creek

Tubing at Deep Creek, fun things to do in the smokies, family fun in Bryson City, NC
Familly Fun at Deep Creek in Bryson City, NC

This a special spot because it is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and even though it is very busy in the parking and picnicking areas during this time of the year you can still find peace and relaxation if you are willing to hike far enough in to the park. Many people will just turn around once they see how many people are using Deep Creek for tubing, but if you take the initiative to hike 1/2 mile further than the rest of the crowd you will not be disappointed! With many waterfalls, diverse wildlife, hundreds of thousands of trees, and much more your time spent here will be simple but so enjoyable.

2. Wesser Fire Tower or Wesser Bald

This is a great spot to go where you can experience some great mountain views and peacefulness without being tuck in traffic and sharing your time with hundreds of other visitors. You can drive most of the way to Wesser Fire Tower and then the hike is about 1.5 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Once you reach the fire tower you can climb on up and sit and soak in the views while enjoying a picnic or take a short nap, be sure to bring sunscreen though.

3. The Fingerlake

IMG_0932The Fingerlake is part of the Nantahala National Forest, this lake is connected to Fontana Lake by a pipes, so that means no boat traffic to worry about! There are absolutely no motorized water crafts allowed on this part of the lake, so that means you can swim, paddle-board, kayak, canoe, float, soak up the sun, and much more without having to worry about getting run-over by a boat. This is a very popular spot in the summer for locals and tourists alike to cool off and enjoy the water, but it is still one of our favorites!

These are the places we will share with you for now, check in later on for more unique places that you should not miss while you are visiting our small town with a big backyard!


No More Rumor, US-441 is Open!

With an extra $500,000 dangling in front of the construction company working diligently on the road construction project would you expect anything less than a completion date over a month ahead of schedule? Well, if you did, they have proved you wrong; but in the end they have truly surprised and excited the businesses the rely on that section of road to bring in many tourists every year. Just in time for the tourist season to set in and having US-441 back open has changed the grim outlook many businesses had on the upcoming season to smiles and enthusiasm!

US-441 is one of our favorite drives in Western North Carolina because there are just so many things that you can do and see along the way! Here is a list of our favorite things to do while driving through the National Park on any given day, however, you may have to make multiple trips to complete the list.

The List:Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.13.28 AM

– Mingus Mill: This neat old structure provides and easily accessible hike for all visitors and make for a nice little leg stretch and fresh air session.

– Picnicking – The US-441 drive is full of great secluded pull-offs that make for a great place to have a family picnic while enjoying the beauty of the park. Don’t feed the bears though! Picnic areas are located at Big Creek, Chimneys, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Heintooga, Look Rock, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks.

– Newfound Gap – Just past/before the Clingmans Dome road turn-off is Newfound Gap, which is where a lot of cars stop to take a break and enjoy the view, have a picnic, or take advantage of the restroom. This is the about the mid-point of the drive and its all downhill from here on out, unless you go on a hike!

– Charlies Bunion – This popular day hike is about 8 miles round trip, but is relatively flat and well maintained. If you want to say that you have walked on the Appalachian Trail then this is the hike that you need to do, and the view at the end is pretty awesome. There is also a chance for you to see an Appalachian Trail shelter and drink out of a mountain spring!

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.13.53 AMMountian Farm Museum: These historic structures were once part of a functioning Appalachian community that was tucked away in the Great Smokies. Now these structure rest at the entrance to 441 and if you can catch the live demonstrations that go on you will most likely learn something new.

– Mount LeConte – This awesome peak is rare in the National Park because it offers the highest lodging and dinning facility to guests in the eastern United States! At 6593ft it is the third highest peak in the National Park but still provides awesome views. There are four different ways to hike up to Mount LeConte. The most popular along US-441 is going to be the Alum Bluff Cave Trail which will take you straight up the mountain and along cliffsides for about 4.9 miles. This is a great day hike for the family looking for a challenge, you legs will be soar, guaranteed!

– Chimney Tops – This hake is another one of those steep incline ones, but again it is worth the work once you get to the top. The unique jagged rock formations at the top make for some creative and careful climbing, but it is a great place to sit, relax, take in the view over a snack or picnic. This is a great day hike, and if you get to hot on the hike then the river at the bottom is a great place to let the kids play and cool off!Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.14.26 AM

– Clingmans Dome – This is one of the most popular stops along this section of road. Clingmans Dome takes you to 6643ft in elevation and if you are there on a low smog day then you will be able to see forever! The hike up to the lookout tower is about a mile and a pretty good incline, but is is a paved trail, which make for easier walking. The hike is well worth the reward once you get to the top!

– Cades Cove – Now this place is truly breathtaking, however, you do have to venture off of 441 for a bit to reach Cades Cove but it is an awesome spot. This motorway creates a loop that visitors can drive along and view historic buildings and sometimes wildlife. In the peak of tourist season though you can bet on a line of traffic because I am not the first person to write about Cades Cove, it is a very popular spot! Now on the weekends if you get there early enough there are no cars allowed on the road, just bikes, you can bring your own or rent one, but the rentals go fast.

There are many more things to be enjoyed and seen along the US-441 section of road, I have merely skimmed the surface and provided you with some ideas to get you going. We hope to see you soon in Western North Carolina and if you are looking for a cabin don’t forget about Yellow Rose Realty and their great options!

See ya soon,

The Team at Yellow Rose Realty

US-441 Should Be Open Soon!

GSMNP_Landslide_011613Rumor has it that US-441 from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC will be opening very soon, much sooner than May 15th. When this project started the expected completion date was going to be May 15th, 2013. However, that was before the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and The National Park put out a contract taunting a $500,000 incentive to get the road project completed early. The company doing the work does not just get the $500,000 for finishing a day early though. The incentive rules were $18,000 given each day that the road was completed prior to May 15th up to $500,000, so if they finished on May 14th that is $18,000 extra. Now what company would pass up an extra $500,000 on a job that they are already making tons of money on? Exactly, none! This reason alone, along with some “mountain-here-say” from people who would know, is why we think the road will be open very soon. If you do the math $500,000/$18,000 comes out to roughly 28 days, this would make the completion date around April 17th, to ensure the construction company gets the entire $500,000 incentive.

We are excited to get US-441 back open a flowing again because it is such a beautiful drive andScreen Shot 2013-02-15 at 1.37.39 PM brings many people to the area. The economic impact on Cherokee and Bryson City, NC has been felt by the landslide, we are lucky that this did not happen during peak vacation season in the mountains! There are many people that visit this area just to drive through the national park on US-441 and see all the beautiful sites, we do not want to imagine the impact if the road was closed during our busiest seasons! We are very thankful for the hard work that has went in to this project and we can’t wait to hear of an official opening date (from an official source), when we do we will be sure to let everyone know!

We can’t wait to see you this year,

-The Team at Yellow Rose Realty

US 441 Closed: Alternate Routes to Cherokee and Bryson City, NC

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 1.37.39 PM
US-441 Closed until May 15th

Has the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closure making you second guess your trip to Western North Carolina or has it made it harder for you to get here? If so, read the article below before you make any final decisions about where you are going on vacation, you might be surprised.

Option 1: US-129 South to NC-28 South

Along this route as you are leaving Tennesse you will drive by the beautiful Chilowhee Lake and have the option of going to the Chilowhee Dam or just taking a photo from an overlook on the “Tail of the Dragon.” The famous “Tail of the Dragon is defines by having 318 curves in 11 miles, which may be scary to some of you who get carsick reading this right now. However, the speed limit is only 35 so you legally can not get too carried away, although many people do every year. After you come off of the “Tail of the Dragon” you will turn left on to NC 28 South and cruise along the Cheoah Lake on your way to the base of Fontana Dam. Fontana Dam is the tallest concrete dam east of the rockies and is quite a destination for visitors. Leaving the bottom of the dam you will continue south through a few more curves until you reach the Fontana Village Resort, where you can refuel, grab a snack, play a round of disc golf, or just wave as you go by. Once you pass the Fontana Village you will have the option at an intersection of going straight to get to the top of Fontana Dam, which is way worth it, or bearing right and continuing on NC 28 South. This last section is moderately curvy, but you will barely notice the curves because of all the mountain scenery around you. Take advantage of soaking in the simplicity and beauty of the mountain countryside. If the curves are too much for you stop off at Tsali Recreational Area to stretch your legs or to get those tires dirty on mountain bike trails! After Tsali you will come to a stop sign at the intersection of US-74 where you can either turn left to get to Bryson City and Cherokee or right to go into the Nantahala Gorge.

Option 2: I-40 East to US-74 West/Great Smoky Mountains Expressway

This will be the fastest option for those driving through Knoxville, TN to get to Western North Carolina. On your way out of Tennessee you will enter a portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you will have the option of breaking up your trip with a nice raft trip down the Pigeon River and a canopy tour at exit 447, or take a short hike on the Appalachian Trail where is crosses I-40 at exit 451.

If you are feeling really adventurous then I will recommend and tell you how to get to one of my favorite swimming holes, Midnight Hole! Take exit 451 and turn right to go across bridge and turn left on to Waterville Road, Waterville Road will lead you in to North Carolina and eventually in to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where the road will turn to gravel and be called NC 284/Big Creek Park Road. Follow this road until you reach a parking are with bathrooms. From exit to parking area should be a little over 3 miles. The trail is accessed from the road just before the parking area, or by a trail which passes from the parking area through the tent-only campground climbing to the main trail just beyond the campground rest rooms. Hike along the trail, which is a old access road for about 1 1/2 miles until you reach Midnight Hole on your left. Midnight hole is a crystal clear swimming hole with a waterfall and huge rocks that make for great jumping platforms! This is a great spot and one that the everyone will remember.


Again for the adventurous folks out there this is how you make Max Patch part of your trip! Once in NC on I-40 still take exit 7 and turn left on to Cold Springs Creek Trail and follow it for about 6 miles until it intersects with Max Patch Road. Turn left on Max Patch road and follow it for about 2 more miles, you will be close to the TN boarder. There will be a small parking area where you can get out and take a hike and enjoy the views, hop on the Appalachian trail just to say that you have while your there! This is a little detour but way worth it in the end, the views are spectacular!

If you are not up for the above adventure then continue in to North Carolina on I-40 and the merge on to US-74 W towards Waynesville, NC. You can stay on US-74 which will take you past Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Sylva, and Dillsboro to end you at the Cherokee exit (74) or Bryson City exit (67).

For travelers looking for a more scenic drive take US-74 until Exit 103 for US-19 South towards Maggie Valley. This route will take you off the main drag through Maggie Valley where you can find somewhere to shop or eat, and the takes you across Soco Mountian down in to Cherokee, NC and then in to Bryson CIty, NC. This route crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway at the top of Soco Mountain, if you wish you can turn right on to the parkway and take it down in to Cherokee as well.

If you would like to ride a little more of the parkway take US-74 for about 12.5 miles until you see a sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a slight right on to the Parkway and once you come to the stop sign turn right to go towards Cherokee. You will take the parkway until it ends at the intersection on US 441 where you can turn right and check out the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Mountain Farm Museum, or left and head in to Cherokee and Bryson City.

Option 3: US-74 East


For those traveling through Chattanooga or Cleveland take this route instead of going through the National Park. This route take you in and out of the majestic Nantahala National Forest the entire way, and is really a great ride despite the curves. As you are leaving Tennessee this route will take you through the Ocoee Gorge right along side the raging Ocoee River, if you are feeling up for it then you should stop and go for an exciting Rafting adventure. If not, continue on towards Murphy, NC where you can find a place to shop in historic downtown or something to fill your stomach with. Continuing on US-74 East head towards Andrews, NC. Andrews is another small but historic town if you are looking to explore, and it also has a Disc Golf course if you are looking to stretch your legs. After Andrews you will enter the famous Nantahala Gorge, which is known for its highly popular Nantahala River that is filled with fisherman, rafts, canoes, and kayaks most of the year. Continue through the gorge stopping as you please to take a short hike on the Bartram Trail, or the Appalachian Trail. There are many rafting guide services in the gorge if you wish to check them out on your way through and set up your trip, or enjoy one of the canopy tour adventures offered there to help make your long drive more enjoyable. Once you are out of the Nantahala Gorge you will be back out on the highway and headed towards Bryson City and Cherokee! This is a great drive and one that might be a little curvy at times but is really enjoyable because of all the mountain beauty that you get to drive through.

I hope you have found an alternate route that you and your family are going to try when thinking about visiting Western North Carolina. Look at the US-441 closure in the park as an opportunity to see other parts of the mountain region that get sometimes get overshadowed by the National Park, instead of a “vacation plan changer.” We here at Yellow Rose Realty and all the other businesses in Western North Carolina are still here to make your vacation and amazing experience whether the Park is open or Closed. Come see us soon!

Gem Mining in the Smokies – How it Works

Gem mining in the Smokies, Gem Mining Western North Carolina, Yellow Rose Realty Vacation Cabin Rentals, Thiings to do in the Smokies
While enjoying your vacation cabin rental in the heart of the North Carolina Smokies,  you may want to try your hand at gem mining. Our previous posts discuss what kind of gems you might find, where to go and what to bring with you. Now, let’s look at how it all works!

Times of Year To Go Mining: Most mines in the area are open from spring through autumn. While some mines charge a daily admission fee, most sell gem dirt by the bucket or bag. A few allow you to dig your own dirt from a specified area.

Two Types of “Dirt”: There are two different types of “dirt” you can get. Some mines have only “native” dirt, which means that you are getting a bucket of dirt straight from the ground in the mine. You may or may not find anything in it but whatever you do find is an authentic gem from Western North Carolina. Others have what they call “enriched” dirt in addition to native buckets. These buckets of dirt are “salted” with gems bought at shows. They most likely are not gems native to the area.

For beginners or for young children who want the quick payoff, an enriched bucket is really the way to go. The colorful stones are easy to see and exciting to find. For those with more experience, the native buckets are a great challenge.

Step 1: After deciding which type of bucket you want, it is time to get down to business. You will be provided with a sifter box; a wooden box with a screen on the bottom that lets water and dirt rush out but keeps your gems and rocks inside. Take your bucket and sifter box and have a seat next to the flume, which is a shallow trough with water running through it. The running water will help you wash the dirt of the rocks and stones in your bucket.

Step 2: Pour some of the dirt from your bucket into the sifter and place it in the water. Shake the sifter from side to side and move it up and down in the water to rinse away the dirt. If you have an enriched bucket, the job won’t be too difficult. Stones are clean when mixed into the dirt, so it will wash off easily. If you have a native bucket, it will take more time and effort. Rinsing the dirt off native stones is a bit more challenging and the gems are still surrounded by their matrix, a crusty gray protective barrier.

Step 3: Push large rocks aside and gather smaller gravel into a mound at the center of your tray. Push your hands down onto the pile and move it in a circular motion to help remove the dirt. Rinse your stones and rub again. Repeat the process until no more mud is visible on your hands. Spread your clean stones into one layer and look carefully for glints of lavender, pink or deep purple-red.  Don’t forget to check those larger chunks you set aside. Chances are they’re just rocks but you never know – there could be something amazing hiding within!

If it’s your lucky day, the mud will be washed away to reveal spectacular treasures in your sifter! Rubies are silky red; garnets reddish brown; and note that sapphires come in just about every color there is! Quartz, a favorite among gem hunters, is a smoky clear color. Mine staff are usually on hand to help show you what to look for because gem stones in their natural state look nothing like the brilliantly colored cut gems we see as the final product.

We hope you have a wonderful time on your gem mining adventure! There are a lot of gem mines in the area, many just a short drive away from Bryson City, NC and your vacation cabin rental from Yellow Rose. Happy hunting!

Gem Mining in Western North Carolina – Planning Your Adventure

Gem Mining in Western North Carolina, Fun things to do in the SmokiesThe first thing you need to do before setting off on your gem mining adventure is to decide where to go. There are many mines in the area to choose from (a short list is provided below). Some have native gems only while others have native and enriched buckets. A few mines let you dig your own dirt. Choose the mine that most closely matches the adventure you have in mind and make sure to get clear directions! While many mines are only a short drive away from your vacation cabin rental in the Bryson City or Cherokee NC area, relying solely on a GPS in the mountains has resulted in many a lost and frustrated tourist!  So, make sure to have written directions as well!

While it is possible to get through a bucket or two rather quickly, for most people, mining is an all-day affair. When planning your gem mining adventure, you will have a better time if you are adequately prepared.  Here are a few tips to help make your experience the best it can be!

Most mines are off the beaten path, so it is wise to pack a lunch and bring along plenty of water. Many have picnic areas for your convenience so you can leave your lunch in the car and just take a break when you are ready.  Gem mining is not a clean activity – you are going to get wet and muddy! The dirt is often a reddish color that can stain clothes, so it is best to wear old clothes and tennis shoes.  The ride back will be much more comfortable if you bring an extra set of clothes and shoes to change into before heading home. To protect the inside of your car from the mud, you may want to bring a plastic bag to put your wet shoes and clothes in. Although many mines feature covered flumes, it is wise to bring along a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen if it is sunny.  Some people choose to wear rubber gloves if it is particularly chilly (this is also a good idea if you are concerned about ruining your manicure!)  Sitting on narrow wooden benches for a long time can get a bit uncomfortable, so you might want to pack some old towels that can be folded up and used as a cushion.  While most mines provide plastic bags to for the gems you find, you may want to bring along your own zipper bag or plastic container. And of course, you will want to have a camera on hand to record that wonderful moment when you find your very own treasure!

There are many gem mines throughout Western North Carolina, with a majority located right in our mountain neighborhood! Following is a list of mines located in and around Franklin, which is known as the Gem Mining Capital of the World.  Yellow Rose Realty has vacation cabin rentals throughout the Cherokee and Bryson City area, including cabins on the way to Franklin. Most are within 15 minutes to 45 minutes from great gem mining. Happy hunting!

Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine

LOCATION: 6771 Sylva Road,

Gold City Gem Mine

9410 Sylva Rd., ph 800-713-7767 or 828-369-3905

Jackson Hole Gem Mine

828-524-5850 – OPEN ALL YEAR

Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine

828-369-9742. Located in the
Burningtown Community off Route 28 North.

Mason Mountain Mine & Cowee Gift Shop

LOCATION: 5315 Bryson City
Rd., ph. 828-524-4570.

Rose Creek Mine

LOCATION: 115 Terrace Ridge Dr.
For mining info call 828-349-3774.

Sheffield Mine

385 Sheffield Farms Rd., ph. 828-369-8383.