Beth is a grandma. 

She is sweet, unassuming and happy to tell you all about her kids and grandkids. She’s also the type of grandma who is young, spunky and makes you feel like she could probably outrun you in a marathon. Most notably, she’s a savage behind the wheel of a Jeep®.

Beth, our tour guide. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

 

Beth was our guide on the Smoky Mountain Pink® Jeep® Tour. Things started out as expected — our small tour group introduced ourselves, made some small talk and got things rolling along. Not much time had passed when Beth said something along the lines of, “You know what — we usually do this last, but let’s mix it up a bit.”

We pulled into a backroad leading to a private trail, accessible only by gate code. And before I knew it, our nice, relaxing ride became a real-life roller coaster.

Unassuming, sweet Beth put that Jeep® into gear and and took to the mountainous roads with unexpected enthusiasm. She went up and down valleys, whipped around turns and purposefully dove into puddles, lightly splashing her unsuspecting tour-goers and covering the Jeep® with last night’s rain. 

It was hard to see over the dashboard here, but the mountains were no match for Beth and her Jeep®. (Photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

 

At one point we came across an incline so steep that I could barely see over the dashboard. Before I could even think, “There’s no way we’re going down that,” we were already half-way down that steep incline as we passengers grasped the handlebars with white knuckles. 

I might have been more scared if my brain could process what was happening a little faster, but instead I was grinning ear-to-ear. All you can think is, “Omigosh omigosh, omigosh.” Followed by, “Oh that’s a pretty view!” I’m not sure quite what I was expecting on this tour, but it easily blew away any preconceived notions I had. 

All tours, except for the Valley and Views tour, include an off-road experience on a private trail. (Photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

 

After we were all good and awake, the rest of the tour was very educational and consisted of paved public roads. We selected the “Foothills Parkway” tour, where we went down Wears Valley, into Townsend and stopped at one of the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course we also drove along the Foothills Parkway itself, which has been hailed as one of the prettiest drives in North America. Along the way, Beth pointed out waterfalls, hiking trails, and little known facts about the area. 

Beth pointed out waterfalls along the way that are often overlooked by most tourists. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

 

One of our main talking points was about bear sightings. It’s not uncommon for guests to see bears during the tours, and we were told that a frequently asked question is where to find them. The answer? Around Cade’s Cove, specifically, the Crib Gap area. 

But, we also talked about safety around bears, which can be a common problem for tourists who want to see these magnificent creatures and the safety of the bears themselves. Beth taught us a new rule of thumb: If you hold your thumb out at arm’s length, and your thumb does not cover the bear in your view, you’re too close. And it’s important to note that being too close is illegal and prohibited by the park. 

READ more: Do you know what to do if you see a black bear in the Smokies?

We also talked about the Gatlinburg fires of 2016, and how the damage still affects people to this day. Beth walked us through the timeline of events, the real story of the infamous two boys and the court cases that followed. I can tell that Beth really studied up on this to be sure she was telling the most accurate story. She discusses talking with park rangers and going to the library to file through any and every record she could find. At one point she even pulled out a physical paper — out of nowhere — as she referenced an article.

Beth pulled out a paper out of seemingly nowhere during one of her references. (Photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)  

 

The tour ended with the Foothills Parkway, and Beth told us all about its history and how it took 52 years and about $178 million to complete. She pulled over for us all to get our touristy photos — even occasionally serving as our photographer so that no one would be excluded from group shots.

As the tour was winding down, Beth said she was going to try to take us off-roading again since we enjoyed it so much, but her next tour was ready and sadly we had to part ways. Overall, this experience was an absolute blast. Beth made the tour everything it was, and she made a point to give credit to all Pink® Jeep® Tour guides, who pride themselves on giving their guests the best and most accurate information. And I truly learned a lot — including a lesson on what a Jeep® can do off-road. It was a 10/10 experience, and I would say it’s now on my must-do list in the Smokies. 

The tour came to a close with a drive along the Foothills Parkway. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

About Pink® Adventure Tours

Pink® Adventure Tours is in their first year in the Smokies, coming to the area around March 2019, but the company originally started in 1960 in Sedona, Arizona. They have additional locations at the Grand Canyon and in Las Vegas. 

Beth also told us all about the company’s origin — how they started and how it was the founder’s wife’s idea to color the Jeeps pink so they could stand out amongst the crowd and be easier to find in a phonebook. (I think that strategy worked!)

Today, Pink Adventure Tours is owned by Hershcend Family Entertainment, the operating partner at Dolly’s park, Dollywood.

We stopped along one of the entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Smoky Mountain Tour Options 

Pink Jeep® Tours currently offers five different tours. Beth told us she is often asked which tour is the best, to which she says is like choosing a favorite child. She loves them all. All tours, except the Valley and Views tour, include the 4×4 off-road experience on a private trail.

  • Gatlinburg Scenic Skybridge Tour (2 hrs) 
  • Valleys & Views Smoky Mountains Tour (2 hrs, 30 mins) 
  • Roaring Fork Smoky Mountains Tour (May-December; 2 hrs, 30 mins) 
  • Newfound Gap Smoky Mountains Tour (3 hrs)
  • Foothills Parkway Smoky Mountains Tour (3 hrs)
It’s a good idea to wear good outdoor shoes. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What to Know Before You Go: 

  • Bundle up in cooler weather and consider wearing layers. The Jeep® is heated, and our guide took great care to make sure we were comfortable. That being said, you’re in a group, and it’s hard to please everybody. I’m cold natured, so while I appreciated the heat being turned up, some of our co-riders didn’t care for it. Also, temperatures tend to drop in the mountains. 
  • Bring sunscreen and sunglasses, and consider rain gear if applicable. You will be somewhat exposed to the elements. 
  • Bring bottled water. The Jeeps carry water to replenish bottles and is available when the vehicle is stopped. Alcohol, food and glass containers are not permitted.
  • Wear good shoes and outdoor clothing. While out of the tour vehicle, you there’s a chance you’ll be walking around rocky terrain. 
  • Give yourself a bathroom break to start. Guides will give you breaks along the way as well, though. 
  • The tour is fairly mild overall, but if you’re really sensitive to motion sickness, you might want to bring something for nausea on those curvy roads.
  • The tour guides are happy to help you take group photos, so don’t be afraid to ask!
The inside of the Jeep® is heated, but it’s a good idea to wear layers too. (Photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Rules of the Road: 

  • Children must be at least 18 months old to ride. Child rates apply to kids aged 18 months to 12 years. 
  • Car seats are provided for children aged 1.5-4 years.
  • The off-road portion of the tour is not recommended for pregnant women, persons with back or neck problems, or persons with serious injuries.
  • Pink Adventure Tours reserves the right to alter, modify or cancel any tour due to weather, unsafe conditions or National Park Service request. Tours and rates are subject to change. 
  • Cancellation policy: 100% charge for less than 48 hour notice. A full refund is given if Pink Adventure Tours cancels a tour.
  • Pink Adventure Tours does not allow firearms or weapons, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, drones, glass containers, alcohol, coolers, professional video equipment, illegal substances or cremated remains. 
  • Tax and gratuity is not included. Recommended guide gratuity is 15%.

Pink Adventure Tours is open year-round, 7 days a week except Easter and Christmas. For more information, visit pinkadventuretours.com. 

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.