Category: Family Fun

Social Distancing? You Mean Camping?

It’s been said that camping is the original social-distancing and we agree! Many of our visitors come to us because they want to ‘get away’ and ‘escape to the mountains’.  And while an obvious attraction of Pigeon Forge is all the stores and things to do, the good news is that in the midst of things shutting down for COVID-19, we have an opportunity to reconnect with the reason people were drawn to this area to begin with: the majesty of the Smoky Mountains and all the life that it’s home to.  

One of the best things about choosing Camp Riverslanding as your Pigeon Forge campground is that we are located right on the Little Pigeon River and just a few minutes from some of the most scenic drives in the world! We also have sports and camp activities that you can’t find anywhere else. Here is our guide on having some Smoky Mountain fun during your quarantine.  

Fishing on the Little Pigeon River:

Bring your rod and reel when you’re coming to Camp Riverslanding.  The Little Pigeon River has stocked trout as well as smallmouth bass in the 3lb range. Fly fishing will do well for the trout, or you can use lures, corn, bread or other bait for other fish.  If you don’t have a Tennessee fishing license then you can pick a day pass up at the gas station near the camp. Rainbow trout are stocked weekly upstream in Gatlinburg and can get up to 20 inches long.  Brook trout are a little smaller, but they are also rarer and more elusive than rainbow trout making them rewarding to catch. And if you forgot your rod or need some supplies then stop by the camp store to find what you need!

Tubing on the Little Pigeon River:

As the weather gets warmer the Little Pigeon turns into our very own water park.  Grab a tube from the camp store or bring your own and hop in! You can float down the rapids on the quarter mile in front of the camp, get out, and do it again. There are also a few spots to have a leisure float and soak up the sun. 

Camp Activities:

Did you know that Camp Riverslanding is the only campground in Pigeon Forge that has a tennis court? If you are looking to polish off your backstroke or just get the basics down then bring your rackets or check them out from the camp store, free of charge. We also have cornhole, basketball, swimming, an arcade with plenty of hand sanitizer, and more. And as night falls, light up the fire and cook some s’mores! There is always something for you and your family to do at Camp Riverslanding.

Foothills Parkway:

A short drive down Wears Valley Rd will bring you to the Foothills Parkway. Currently the Foothills Parkway extends over 30 miles through the national forest and holds some of the most scenic views in all of the Smokies. Dozens of pull-offs are available to stop and view the majesty of the Smokies.  

Five Trails you have to Hike Near Pigeon Forge

Andrews bald in smoky mountains

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Our Top 5 Favorite Trails Near Pigeon Forge

One of the great things about camping in Pigeon Forge is that you are located in the perfect center between attractions in Pigeon Forge, and hiking adventures in the Smokies. There are several trails all around, less than a 30 minute drive away from Pigeon Forge. The best place to find these trails is in the Smoky Mountains National park which houses more than 800 miles of hiking trails in total. On these trails you’ll see the park’s seemingly endless species of fauna and flora, along with stunning waterfalls and other natural scenic attractions. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite trails to hike near Pigeon Forge.

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Gatlinburg Trail

Starting with a nice and friendly hike, the Gatlinburg Trail is located between Gatlinburg (a lovely little city located east of Pigeon Forge) and the popular Sugarlands Visitor Center. The trail is a two-mile walk one way, follows the path of a creek going through the park and if you was to bring along your furry family member, it is actually one of the few paths that allows leashed pets. You can also bring your bicycle along this path!

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Laurel Falls

Next on our list is the Laurel Falls Trail, which is with a 75-foot drop, is one of the highest in the park. It takes hikers along an easy path that is a four miles long round trip, featuring lush forests of old-growth. The path is a paved trail, considered fairly easy in difficulty, which makes it one of the most popular trails in the park. It is located located between Elkmont Campground and Sugarlands Visitor Center. One thing to watch out for is that parking can be difficult to find in the on weekends and during busy summer months. One way to get around this is to plan to hike on weekdays in order to avoid the crowds.

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Andrews Bald Trail

If you are seeking spectacular views of the Smokies, Andrews Bald Trail is the place to go. It is considered a medium difficulty level hike, with the perfect combination between distance and difficulty, and is a great choice for both avid hikers, and active families. Another thing to note is that Andrew’s Bald is the highest bald in the Smokies.

The hike starts on Forney Ridge, which is located down the southern edge of Clingman’s Dome (another great family place to walk). When you’ve hiked around a tenth of a mile in, you’ll come to a fork between Clingman’s Dome Bypass, and the Andrew’s Bald trail. After you hit the 1.7 mile mark, you will arrive to a grassy meadow, also known as a bald, which consequenttly makes for an excellent picnic spot, so bring some yummy food to share as a family. From there you will also see some spectacular sights filled with lovely panoramic views of the southern Smokies, Fontana Lake, and the highlands.

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Porters Creek trail

Porters Creek Trail is great to hike year round, but it is especially friendly during the winter months if it has snowed, and other trails are too difficult.

In the spring, and summer months it is just as lovely, providing beautiful views of vegetation and flora, making it a wonderful trail if you and your family want to go on a leisurely hike. In the beginning you will come through a gravel road along the first mile of the trail, which will lead you into a forest of statuesque trees and rocks lushly coated with moss. Our favorite time to hike this trail is in the springtime, when the yellow trilliums begin their blooming period.

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Grotto Falls Trail

Last but not least is Grotto Falls which  features the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that a person can walk behind and get a unique view. The stunning 25-foot high waterfall is a cool retreat for summer hikers and it is located around 1.2 miles away from the beginning of the trail. For those that love to observe wildlife, the moist environment provides an ideal habitat for salamanders.

If you hike this trail during the spring months you’ll see a beautiful array of wildflowers along the way. Keep on the lookout for yellow and white trilliums, white violets, stitchwort, and many more.

For the most part the trail to Grotto Falls travels a gentle grade along a wide and well-worn path. As you proceed to the waterfall you’ll cross over four small streams without the assistance of a footbridge.

These are our five favorite hiking trails near Pigeon Forge. Every one of them offers adventure, and memorable views for the whole family! What are some of your favorites from the area?

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Fun Skewer Campfire Recipes

steak skewers

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Fun Skewer Campfire Recipes for the Whole Family

When you go camping, it’s the best time to explore doing things a little differently than you usually do. Cooking while camping is one of the things that can be so fun to do differently, so in this post, we’ll cover how you can make a fun kabob meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while camping. It’s fun to get back to the basics, and explore how campers used to make meals with sticks and even coat hangers. The good thing about modern day times is that you can get these just about anywhere instead of having to use the things around you to cook on them. Here are some things to consider when making skewer meals.

Choose the Right Skewer

When making skewer meals, you can choose between wood skewers and metal ones. Wooden ones are generally made from traditional bamboo, and now they even make flavored ones like Indian curry, or lime citrus. Aside from those flavor options, these are also easy to get rid of after you’ve used them by burning them up in the campfire. So no washing is needed afterwards.

On the other hand, metal skewers are great because they last for a lifetime, and don’t catch on fire when you don’t want them to. Another benefit of using these is that they channel heat into meats like chicken and pork, so that they are easier to cook thoroughly.

Skewer Meal Prep

It may take a few tries to get the gist of it, but a few tips may make it easier to ge the perfect skewer. For example, you could try to make handling of the skewers easier by using two thin skewers beside each other, or using flat ones. Also be sure to never crowd meats together like chicken or pork, because it won’t allow them to cook thoroughly. These meats required patience, and slow, even cooking. If you want to include veggies, the ones that hold up the best are broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and bell peppers. It’s also important to not that if you are making a mixed meat and veggie skewer, cook the meat a bit first, as it will cook slower than the veggies. For a delicious fruit skewer, pineapple chunks, peaches, plums, bananas, and apple wedges hold up the best. You can even use marinades that have been boiled as dipping sauces!

Here are some of our favorite all day skewer recipes:

Breakfast Sausages

Breakfast-Skewers_exps7024_W101973175A09_23_2b_RMS1 package Sausage Links, thawed

1 can (20 ounces) drained pineapple chunks, drained

10 medium mushrooms (fresh)

2 tablespoons melted butter

Maple syrup

Directions:

Cut the sausages in half; on five metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread sausages, pineapple and mushrooms. Brush with butter and syrup for extra flavor.

Grill, uncovered, over fire, turning and basting with syrup, for until sausages are lightly browned, cooked all the way through, and fruit is heated through. Yield: 5 servings.

Balsamic-Glazed Beef

exps57902_SD2847494D02_13_4b_WEB1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 pound beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups cherry tomatoes

In a bowl, whisk barbecue sauce, vinaigrette, and mustard until blended. Set aside 1/4 cup mixture for basting. Place the beef in the remaining mixture, and toss it around to coat it evenly.

Alternately thread beef and tomatoes on four metal or soaked wooden skewers.

Grill skewers, covered in aluminum, over fire until beef reaches desired doneness, making sure to turn it occasionally and baste it frequently with the vinaigrette mixture that was set aside during the last 3 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

Rainbow Salmon Skewers
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12 oz salmon fillet

1/2 each of a red, green yellow, and orange bell pepper

1/4 large red onion

olive oil

salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1 lemon

Cut the salmon into 1 1/2 inch chunks, to create 12 pieces.

Chop the peppers into 1 1/2 inch square pieces

Chop the red onion into similar sized chunks and separate the layers (wear glasses to prevent tears)

Alternately thread your skewers with the salmon, and then onions and peppers, making sure to leave some room at the base for easy handling.

Liberally brush the skewers on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Cook over the fire until the fish is cooked through and the veggies are softened a bit. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Yield: 4 servings

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5 Tips to Make your Pigeon Forge Campground Experience Kid Friendly

RV there yet?

There is nothing more exciting than the thought of getting away from the busyness of our daily lives, packing up the family, and going on a grand camping adventure. Even better is when you can take the comfort of home, by going on an RV camping trip. We’ve taken all of our camping experiences to come up with the top 5 tips on how to make your Pigeon Forge campground experience kid friendly, to create memories to last for years to come.

1. Pick the Best RV Camping Park:

With a myriad of campgrounds to chose from, it can be easy to get lost in the amount of choices available. Some things to look for specifically are, location, amenities, and customer service. Location is incredibly important, because you don’t want to go somewhere that is either so crowded and noisy that the whole trip becomes more stressful than your daily life, and you also don’t want to be somewhere that is so secluded and far away from everything that you begin to feel stranded. Camp Riverslanding offers the best of both worlds by being located within minutes of your favorite Pigeon Forge spots, but secluded enough to provide an environment free of traffic noise, and filled with the melodious sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling. Not only that, we also have the absolute best river access. It’s so awesome that we’ve included river tubing as one of our many great amenities!

2. Create a Checklist:

Now that you’ve picked the best campground in the area (dare we say world?) it’s time to create a checklist to provide the smoothest trip, with no “Oh no, I forgot…” moments. This checklist will house all the items that you need to pack and bring on your RV camping adventure, the essentials, and miscellaneous things you may need. It’s fun to include the kids in this to let them have a sense of having an important role in helping out for the trip. And also making sure that they won’t forget their favorite plush toy.

3. Make an Activity List:

To make sure that there is something fun to do for every day of your trip, try creating an activity list of the things the whole family would like to do! Include your kids in the planning, and see what sort of adventures they would like to do together. Pigeon Forge is filled with exciting and fun places to have days upon days of fun. There are practically endless trails to go on (check out Five Trails you have to Hike when you’re Camping in Pigeon Forge) Camp Riverslanding also offers great amenities for those day when you just want to take a break and relax, including tubing, arcade, basketball court, and even a spa for those sore muscles! Make sure to check what sort of weather to expect to plan accordingly. Every day can be filled with fun, even rainy days! You can have a fun indoor day by playing board games together, taking turns telling stories, and even drawing some of the experiences you’ve had together on the trip!

4. Plan Delicious Meals

While it can be fun to eat out every day you’re on vacation, you can also make really easy meals that the whole family can have fun putting together. Cooking as a family has always been a wonderful bonding experience, and cooking fun meals over a bonfire is such a fun memory to make. Involve your kids by asking them what kind of meals they would like to have on the trip, and even getting them to participate in easy preparation tasks. A good tip to use is creating pre-measured meals in bags that can be easily cooked over fire, or in a crockpot in your RV. This will save a lot of preparation time. Simply prepare everything before the trip, throw it in a bag, and label it! You can even half cooking them to cut down the cooking time.

5. Make the Nights Memorable

After a long day of adventures, spend some quiet quality time with your kids by talking about the day around a bonfire, while stargazing, or in the comfort of the RV. Ask them what their favorite parts of the day were, and go over what you’ll be doing the next day, and even what they would like to do. Tell them a story about the area you are in to immerse them into the experience of the area even more.

By following these tips your camping trip will be a smooth, fun filled family adventure that you and your kids will remember for years to come. If you have any questions about how Camp Riverslanding can make your family vacation unforgettable, give us a call!

The Best Campground Dinner

After a long day of being out and one with nature, there is nothing quite as comforting as coming back to your campsite and cooking up a good and hearty meal. It truly makes the whole day feel complete to just sit and eat with the family. Camping makes everything you do feel adventurous, and cooking is no exception. The great thing is, you’re not just limited to eating hot dogs or canned pinto beans. Whether you want something quick and easy that doesn’t require a lot of effort, or want a more elaborate and indulgent meal, there are almost no limits to what you can cook up.

Instead of hitting up a local restaurant, make it a fun family cooking night that everyone can participate in. Nothing beats eating an amazing meal under the wonder of a night filled with stars. Seriously, you’ll remember nights like this forever. Great food with awesome people and interesting conversations are what memories are made of. With just a few twists and tricks, you’ll be surprised at the awesome meals that you can make in the great outdoors. Pretty much anything you can make at home has a place in a camping dinner too. Here are some of our favorite campfire recipes that are sure to be fondly remembered for years to come. Remember to put away all of your food things after eating so bears don’t get it!

Walking Tacos

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INGREDIENTS

Corn chips or Doritos in personal packages

2 pounds of cooked ground beef (use your favorite seasoning)

2 large cans of beans

Chopped Tomatoes

Chopped Lettuce

Sharp cheddar, or your favorite shredded cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

Serve all of the toppings in little bowls for everyone to pick their favorite toppings. Have everyone get their own bag of chips and put in whatever toppings they want! It doesn’t get much easier than this.

 

Cubed Steak with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

RosemarySteakFoilPacket

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb Cubed Steak, cut into 1″ pieces

3 Potatoes, chopped

1 Cup Green Peas

1 Cup Baby Carrots

1/2 Onion

3 – 5 Sprigs of Rosemary

3 – 5 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper, to taste 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Make two large double layers square of foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Divide all of the ingredients evenly between both foil packets.

Place the sliced potatoes in a thin layer to make a base.

Season with 1/3 of the salt, pepper and garlic.

Place the cubed steak on top of potatoes.

Season meat with 1/3 garlic, salt and pepper.

Layer peas, carrots and onion on top of meat.

Season with the remaining 1/3 of garlic, salt & pepper.

Place rosemary sprigs on top and drizzle olive oil over all ingredients.

Wrap and seal the aluminum. Make sure to leave some room in the packet to allow air to flow through as it cooks.

Cook on coals for 20 minutes. Flip about half-way through.

Open carefully, steam comes out fast and can burn. After this, the waiting is finally over. Find a beautiful spot, and enjoy your delicious meal!