Ecotourism in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Part 2

| 7/25/2016 9:53:00 AM

Fowler's Clay Works hand crafted mugs

As much inspired by the mountains, rivers and forests as serving the needs of the droves of visitors attracted to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year, Gatlinburg's arts and craft community, plus many of the hotels and restaurants, offer nourishment for the mind, body and soul.

The City of Gatlinburg spearheads efforts to keep things green, too.  With the Gatlinburg Go Green initiative to help manage the impacts of millions of visitors every year, a massive recycling effort and composting plant have diverted about 70 percent of the waste from a landfill, electric charging stations have been set up at the park’s Sugarlands Visitor Center, and one of Tennessee’s largest public transportation systems now serve about 800,000 riders per year. Even Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies sports a large photovoltaic system on the roof (the aquarium is, in fact, an interesting visit if you need a break from hiking in the park).

This article picks up after the ecotourism adventures end in the water, up in the treetops or on the ground at a waterfall, along a stream or hiking trail.

Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Trail

“I don’t just want to run folks through the steps of what goes into a mug, but rather turn into a teaching experience so everyone can get a better insight into our craft community and what it means for something to truly be ‘handmade’,” says Mike Fowler, a potter who has been operating Fowler’s Clay Works with his wife Cheryl since 2013.Fowler's Clay Works pottery workshop 

At his studio, you can purchase his pottery items or make your own pottery mug in one of his hands-on workshops.  Under his tutelage, we each threw our own hand-crafted mug, added our unique “fingernail line” and picked out our glaze.  Our mugs were later fired twice, then sent to us in the mail after we returned home.

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