Press Releases

Wilderness Wildlife Week 2024 Celebrates the Sites, Sounds, and History of The Great Smoky Mountains

In its 32nd year, this free event offers excursions, workshops, and more to embrace winter in the Smokies.

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (Jan. 3, 2024)— Pigeon Forge’s Wilderness Wildlife Week is set to celebrate its 32nd year as one of the Southeast’s largest gatherings of wildlife experts and enthusiasts with more than 90 free sessions, four days of outdoor excursions, and activities for guests of all ages to embrace the great outdoors. The event offers free seminars and activities Jan. 22-25. Based at, The Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge the event also offers off-site trips throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“The Great Smoky Mountains are always at the heart of our city and this area, so we’re thrilled to celebrate the wildlife, history and culture of this region each year at this fantastic free event,” said Pigeon Forge Executive Director of Tourism Leon Downey.

For three decades, Wilderness Wildlife Week has introduced thousands of attendees to some of the country’s leading wildlife experts. Attendees have access to a full roster of topics and experts who highlight the nature, terrain, culture, and history of the Great Smoky Mountains. The event has won numerous awards for its variety of presenters, overall attendance, and ability to offer attendees opportunities to interact with fellow enthusiasts over a broad range of topics.

This year’s event includes sessions on a wide variety of topics including wildlife and history such as Fox Tails! where attendees will learn about the Red Fox’s behaviors, family life, and general facts about this sly animal (Jan. 22 9-10 a.m.) and People Who Shaped the Smokies (Jan. 24 10:30-11:30 a.m.). Ken Jenkins, Judy Felts and friends host the moving program Heaven & Nature Sing (Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.) with Jenkins providing a second evening session entitled The Way It Was (Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.). Additionally, retired TV personality, Alan Williams, presents a program entitled “Going My Way” Reminiscing About Wilderness Wildlife Week from his television career on Wednesday night (Jan. 24) at 7:30 pm.

Additionally, music and storytelling are celebrated with sessions like Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, performed by Anne Van Curen (Jan. 23 5-6 p.m.) celebrating the inspiring true story of the woman who hiked solo on the Appalachian Trail in 1955 and Mountain Ballads with Ruth Barber & Brenda Lentz Dawson (Jan. 23 4:30-5:30 p.m.) who will sing and share the histories of mountain ballads from the early settlers up to the 1920s.

The full program is available at

Outdoor excursions of all levels are available throughout the week. Highlights include five-mile hike to Rainbow Falls, the earliest route to Mount LeConte (Jan. 22 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), an 8.5-mile hike to Laurel Falls, the most-visited waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a stop at the Walker Sisters cabin (Jan. 23 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and more. New this year, anyone six years of age or older can hike 4.6-miles with llamas on the Old Sugarlands Trail and while learning about the history of the trail and hiking with llamas (Jan. 22 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.). Returning this year, eight Pink Jeep Tour excursions are available on Jan. 22-25 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

New this year, sign-ups for all hikes, trips and craft classes will be available at beginning Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. eastern.

Nearly 30 exhibits and vendors, including the not-for-profit Cades Cove Preservation Association, East Tennessee Historical Society, and Keep Sevier Beautiful, are open daily during the event beginning at 10 a.m.

This winter celebration of the great outdoors is free and open to the public. For more information, a complete schedule and registration details, visit


About Pigeon Forge: Pigeon Forge is located in East Tennessee, approximately 35 miles from Knoxville and McGhee-Tyson Airport. Two-thirds of the nation’s population east of the Mississippi River lives within a day’s drive, making it an easily accessible family vacation destination. The city’s neighbor is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the U.S. It also is home to Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, Tennessee’s most-visited ticketed attraction. More information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available at or toll-free at 1-800-251-9100.

Media Contact:

Katherine Peterson

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