Tourist Time In Tennessee

The Wild Eagle Coaster

Dollywood has a new roller coaster. Elvis has a different side to see. And you can prepare to take a nip at the Jack Daniel distillery.
Those are just three of the lures this year as Tennessee’s summer tourism season gets under way.
The peak of the travel year falls as gasoline prices are high, but going down. For the state’s busy $14 billion tourism industry, which employs more than 170,000, there are signs that business is picking up.
The sprawling Great Smoky Mountains National Park already is seeing a 15 percent increase in visitors over last year. With 9 million visitors annually, it’s the most popular national park.
Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge has a new roller coaster to go with its four others. The Wild Eagle is 21 stories high and goes 61 mph in each 2 1/2 minute ride.
In Memphis, Graceland is offering visitors a new perspective of Elvis: Just opened is the Elvis Presley Stable Tour displaying saddles used by Elvis, personal western wear and home movie footage of the king of rock ‘n’ roll on horseback. This August will mark the 35th anniversary of his death.
For the first time, visitors can sample Jack Daniel whiskey on tours at the Lynchburg distillery under plans being fine-tuned. It was outlawed until recent legislation authorized it.
Nashville, as usual, relies heavily on music to attract 11 million visitors annually. There are up to five Grand Ole Opry country music shows weekly, plus the annual CMA Music Festival June 7-10 featuring Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton and others.
Here in Manchester, the annual Bonnaroo festival on the same dates as the CMA’s will include performers like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, the reunited Beach Boys, Phish and Kenny Rogers.