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5 Tips to Enjoy the East Tennessee Fall Colors

October 6th, 2015 by Whitestone

Fall Colors in East Tennessee at Whitestone Inn

The fall season is one of the most amazing times of the year in East Tennessee. The cooler weather and changing colors provide a time of beauty and reflection that make it unique and special for many people. While many are familiar with the magnificence of the fall foliage in New England and other hot spots East Tennessee is a rival in almost every way.

From the Smoky Mountains with 800+ miles of hiking trails to the Cherohala Skyway driving tour to the amazing lakes, waterfalls and rivers that highlight the fall colors; East Tennessee is a great spot for a getaway to relax, experience the beauty of the trees, and reflect on the past year.

To help you get the most out of the East Tennessee fall colors we share 5 tips you should know to have an amazing experience this year.

Barn and Watts Bar Lake East TN Fall Colors

Time Your Stay for Peak Foliage

The peak time varies from year to year but the last two weeks in October and first week in November should be great weeks this year for the best East Tennessee fall colors.

Know the Elevation Effect

The leaves change first at the highest elevations in the Smoky Mountains and quickly move down to the rest of East Tennessee. If lower elevations aren’t full of color yet driving the Cherohala Skyway or hiking in the Smokies should give you a brilliant display of color and amazing views.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

One of the great ways to fully enjoy the fall season is to get into the forest and enjoy the peace, beauty, and tranquility it delivers. With 4+ miles of hiking trails here at Whitestone and over 800 miles of trails in the Smokies you shouldn’t have a problem finding a trail to enjoy.

Watch the Weather

The average temperature during October in East TN is in the low 70s during the day and high 40s at night. Rainfall is typically only 3 inches for the entire month. But the weather can change quickly so be sure to bring good hiking boots, warm clothes, and a rain jacket so you are ready to venture out and still enjoy the fall season despite the weather.

Fall Colors at the Sanctuary at Whitestone Country Inn

Choose Your Style

Getting out and hiking a couple miles of trails is a great way to experience the Fall colors. For many though a driving tour is a better option. We think The Cherohala Skyway is the best drive. Getting out on Watts Bar Lake in a kayak or canoe is a unique vantage point. Or you can even find a scenic helicopter tour in the Smoky Mountains.


The gorgeous fall colors of East Tennessee are on full display during the month of October and first of November. It’s a great time to enjoy the beauty of the East Tennessee fall colors. Many use our East Tennessee bed and breakfast as a relaxing home base as they explore during their fall getaway or they just enjoy the 360 acres and miles of hiking trails right here on our property. Check our availability or call the front desk at 865-376-0113.

East Tennessee Fall Colors at Whitestone Country Inn Kingston TN

3 Unique Reasons to Visit Sweetwater Valley Farm

October 5th, 2015 by Whitestone

sweetwater valley farm philadelphia tn

Just about everyone loves cheese, especially if it’s made as fresh as possible. Sweetwater Valley Farm, a quick 25 minute drive from our Tennessee romantic getaway, makes true farm-to-table artisanal cheeses. You can learn about the whole process from the visiting the cows that produce the milk to tasting these award-winning glorious creations, made right on the premises.

Here are three reasons why you should make the trip to our friends and neighbors at Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia TN:

sweetwater valley farm philadelphia tnMore than two dozen artisan cheeses to choose from

Sweetwater Valley produces 27 different varieties of cheese, including different yellow and white cheddar, curds, gouda and jack flavors. Their total production comes out to roughly 200,000 lbs. a year. Each comes in 10-ounce blocks and can be purchased in the farm store, along with gift baskets, cutting boards, and other merchandise. You may have a difficult time selecting the right kind, so let the knowledgeable staff help you out on deciding which ones you’d like best.

A fascinating lec-“tour” on cheese-making

But before you think about which ones you’d like to take home, educate yourself on how cheese is created by taking a walking tour of the Sweetwater Valley property. The first thing you’ll see is how well the over 1,300 dairy cows are tended to, and it’s the most integral part in cheese-making. The staff also wants to inform visitors on the entire eco-system of their farm, teaching them how people’s routines connect with a cow’s diet, the dairy’s commodities recycling, and how computer technology aids in monitoring the health of the cows. Finally, you’ll hear about the process to make cheese, by video presentation and possibly by live demonstrations as well.

John Harrison, owner of Sweetwater Valley, runs the farm right in the center of the southeast Tennessee valley bearing its name. Starting his farm from scratch, he wanted to distinguish his products by following the traditional farmstead practice of the “cow to consumer” process. That means he and his staff do it all themselves, with no outsourcing or middlemen to interfere.

sweetwater valley farm specialty cheeseThe “UDDER”-ly enjoyable museum of dairy

Perhaps the most popular aspect of Sweetwater Valley Farm is the UDDERSTORY, an interactive onsite exhibit devoted to dairy agriculture. John Harrison started this educational visitors center because “People are fascinated with milking a cow.” Some of it tells the history of how cows helped humans create milk-based foods. Another part relates how dairies work today and tomorrow, with a special emphasis on how technology brings it all together. There are also informative displays on the dairy industry’s role on combating hunger issues and economic development both locally and worldwide.

If for some reason, you miss buying the cheese at Sweetwater Valley Farm, or you just want to buy more, we have some of their varieties for sale here at the Whitestone Inn, inside the Schoolhouse. You’ll love their cheeses as much as we do, so come try some during your stay with us.

If you’re looking for other great things to do in East Tennessee be sure to request our free eBook.

Photos courtesy of Sweetwater Valley Farm.

Exploring the Secret City of Oak Ridge TN

September 24th, 2015 by Whitestone

secret city oak ridge tnImagine living in a town in a fenced-off confined area and instructed not to disclose about the nature of your work, which only involved specific tasks. Your family is with you, but you aren’t allowed to talk to others outside about what you do.

Guards are posted at every entry. All of this is necessary because the government needed to have enough resources and area to build the most defining aspect of World War II – the Manhattan Project, the development of the atomic bomb.

As ominous as this sounds, it was all part of the local history here in Oak Ridge TN, not surprisingly called the Secret City, which is a quick 25-minute drive from our Tennessee bed and breakfast.

Less than a year after the United States’ entry in the war, more than 60,000 acres of farmland became one of the largest laboratories in the country, under massive secrecy. Temporary homes and stores sprang up almost overnight, but in time this community became Oak Ridge. Today, the city of over 29,000 is no longer a secret and hosts the impressive American Museum of Science and Energy and other facilities dedicated to scientific discovery.

The AMSE offers a highly interactive experience detailing Oak Ridge’s unique place in World War II history. In addition, you can view exhibits relating to national defense, developments in energy resources and the nature of atomic science. Several fascinating temporary exhibits rotate throughout the year, most of which will appeal to all ages. Pay special attention to the photographs and 20-minute video that shows how Americans tried to live normal lives under the guise of a top-secret government facility.

A bus tour sponsored by the Department of Energy takes visitors near the X-10 Graphite Reactor, a now-defunct structure that produced plutonium for the Manhattan Project and eventually developed medical and scientific isotopes. Two other important establishments that have contributed to energy resource development are the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the New Hope Center at the Y-12 Plant. Because these two sites are active working facilities of the federal government, you will have to be a U.S. citizen over 10 years old and need a reservation to tour them.

Of course, there’s so much more to Oak Ridge than its wartime origins and heritage. Because of its scenic location in the Tennessee foothills, outdoor recreational opportunities abound. Hikers, runners and cyclists will enjoy the 65 miles of trails around the city that wind through lush woodland areas and Melton Lake Park, a popular spot for fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding. If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie on a mountain bike, then head over to Haw Ridge Park and take on some of the most difficult but thrilling routes you’ll find. Golfers will enjoy the links at the Centennial Golf Course, considered one of the finest public facilities in the state, or the private Oak Ridge Country Club.

More sedate activities are also part of the Oak Ridge scene too. The admission-free University of Tennessee Arboretum features an extensive system of trails that crosses over 250 acres. You can view both native and exotic plant species as well as birds, mammals, reptiles and other wildlife. The city also plenty of performing arts programs such as theater, music concerts and dance productions, and shopping in the Jackson Square area.

Plan to spend a day here in the Secret City, which was once a place that wanted to keep its existence unknown, but now wears its identity loud and proud. If you’d like to know more about Oak Ridge TN, we can share some local knowledge about where else to go and what to do. Just ask us at the front desk and we would be delighted to help you plan your trip.

If you’re looking for great things to do in East Tennessee request our full guide which will give you 25 things to throughout the region for any taste or preference!

Photo by bobistraveling.

I’m Plumb Give Out: A Letter from Paul

September 18th, 2015 by Whitestone

Please read this if you share my Christian values.

“I’m Plumb Give Out”

That’s how I feel today. Growing up in rural West Tennessee I heard that expression often from folks who were exhausted. In a slightly different way that conveys my condition – “I’m plumb give out”. First of all, I am slowly recovering from “walking pneumonia”. That means that for three weeks I could walk slowly but not very far. I can function but not at a very high level! I’m getting better but still completely worn out.

Also in the “plumb give out” category, I have spent 19 years giving missionaries and pastors a place to rest. Since 1997, 13,000 rooms at Whitestone have been given to missionaries at no cost to them and approximately 15,000 rooms have been given to pastors and their spouses at half price. Also, since 2002 we have taken the Whitestone experience around the world to twenty 4-5 star resorts and provided 4,650 missionaries with a 4 day refreshing retreat, through the Christian Hospitality Network, at no cost to them.

But “I’m plumb give out!” I don’t enjoy asking others for money, but these front line warriors are so worthy and in such need. I have exhausted available funds and yet I don’t know how to turn away those who so desperately need a time to rest. In all surveys of pastors and missionaries they say their greatest need is an affordable place to reconnect to their spouses and to God. They also say the lack of funds is the hindrance to that much needed time of rest.

I need your help

If you share my values regarding Christianity and the Great Commission would you prayerfully consider partnering with us in providing rest for missionaries to be refreshed and esteemed? Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something. Together, we can give them more than a cup of cold water and look forward to an eternal reward because these workers were rested and could continue their mission.

  • $25/month
    • Can fund a single missionary for an international CHN 3 night/4 day Getaway or retreat in the U.S.
    • Can fund meals monthly for a single missionary at resorts in the U.S. or overseas
  • $50/month
    • Can fund a missionary couple for an international CHN 3 night/4 day Getaway or retreat in the U.S.
    • Can fund meals monthly for a missionary couple at resorts in the U.S. or overseas
  • $75/month
    • Can fund a missionary couple and a single missionary for an international CHN 3 night/4 day Getaway or retreat in the U.S.
    • Can fund meals monthly for a missionary family at resorts in the U.S. or overseas

You can do the multiplication and be a blessing to as many missionaries as possible. Hospitality to missionaries is so important to Jesus that in Matt. 10:40-42 when He sends the disciples out for the first time He tells them that “welcoming you is the same as welcoming Me”. He goes on to say that those who receive missionaries have the same reward as those who go. That passage concludes with the famous verse (42) “Even a cup of cold water given to one of the least of My sent ones will never lose its reward.”

The need is greatest right now! Give what you can if you share these values. And if you can’t give, would you encourage me by sending an email sharing that you will be praying for this grace-based hospitality ministry? CHN will be in Krakow, Poland the last week of October hosting missionaries from 30 countries. We have a waiting list of others who want to come if funds became available.

Please help if you can.

Go to and give online or send a check to the Christian Hospitality Network at 1200 Paint Rock Road Kingston, TN 37763.

I would so appreciate an email at or call my cell phone at 865-376-7182 encouraging me with your prayers because “I’m plumb give out.”



3 Surprising Facts About the Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee

September 14th, 2015 by Whitestone

cherohala skyway tennessee scenic trail



Not far from our Tennessee Bed and Breakfast, a world of opportunities and new experiences exist on and around one of America’s most fascinating routes, the Cherohala Skyway. I was fortunate to discover it several years ago with a friend, and I will never forget my first glimpse of fall foliage from a height that placed us above endless groups of mountains clothed in color.

cherohala skyway pictures

I have learned three surprising things thus far on my trips across the beautiful Tennessee Cherohala Skyway:

1. It is entirely possible to ride a motorcycle through an actual cloud (not your run-of-the-mill fog, but a real in-the-sky cloud)

2. It is possible, on a dry sunny day, to round a corner and suddenly find oneself in a land of snow; and

3. It is conceivable on a stifling hot day to achieve relief by simply driving a mile into the sky (it’s sweater-weather up there!).

Even before these experiences, I was taken with the awe-inspiring beauty of this 40 mile drive, but these unexpected incidents placed this winding road at the top of my “To Do Again and Again” list.

cherohala skyway photos tennessee

The Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee crosses through two national forests and connects Tellico Plains in southeast Tennessee to Robinsville, NC. It took 30 years to build, and was designed to display all of the area’s natural beauty via a roadway that takes travelers from a height of 950 feet at the Tellico River, to a height of over a mile (5, 390 feet at the Santeetlah overlook). From its highest point, it begins a gradual descent, offering more spectacular views along the way. Picnic tables, hiking trials, overlooks, and wheel chair accessible facilities can be found in various locations, making it possible to enjoy a leisurely, as well as scenic trip. Whitestone offers brochures that detail the many trial heads and enjoyable stops along the way.

cherohala skyway tennessee

Many people think of Whitestone Country Inn only as a destination in itself. The beautiful rooms overlooking Watts Bar Lake, the great dining, the many available activities, and the pampering of guests seem more than enough to enjoy. But Whitestone can also serve as the hub of a wheel, with spokes that lead to the amazing variety of gifts East Tennessee offers its residents and its guests. Consider a stay at the “hub of the wheel”. Sleep well, enjoy a bountiful Whitestone breakfast, grab a brochure for the Cherohala Skyway Tennessee Day Trip or another East Tennessee attraction, and spend the day exploring. Come back for one of Whitestone’s delicious dinners. Then sleep, eat, repeat… so many adventures so close to so much relaxation. Who knew?

cherohala skyway accommodations east tennessee

by Valerie Bryant Bennett

Photos by Gorilla Girl on Flickr and Dzmitry on Flickr. Photo of Whitestone courtesy of Your Reflections.

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