Families take a Christmas vacation in the Smokies

(Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For thousands of families it was not going to Grandma's house for Christmas. Instead, it was a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Valarie Caudel and her family decided to leave Fayetteville, NC for a trip to Gatlinburg. She says they were hoping for some snow for Christmas and found it at Ober Gatlinburg.

"We've been here twice for the summer and enjoyed the hiking and the white water rafting, and we figured we'd come here for the winter," said Caudel. "We knew there was going to be snow, we wanted to take a look and see. They wanted to make a snow man, but there's not enough for that. So the kids just enjoyed throwing a few snowballs at each other."

The Caudel family came into town last week and planned to stay through the Christmas holiday.

Many hotels and attractions are benefiting from the people who planned a vacation for Christmas.

"We've been very busy, we've had a great Christmas crowd," said Ryan Willis, with Wilderness at the Smokies Resort. "Going from Christmas to New Years, we're near capacity so there's only a few rooms left for people to get as we go into the new year."

Many families say they've made great memories and hope to make the trip a new family tradition.

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