Dolly Parton Hosts Telethon for Smoky Mountains

Country’s top stars come together to raise money for families devastated by wildfires in HGTV’s home of east Tennessee. 

When disaster strikes, everyone looks for a hometown hero to help. In the case of the recent wildfires in east Tennessee, and particularly Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its gateway towns, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, that hometown hero’s name is Dolly Parton.



“My home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is some place special,” Parton said. “Wildfires have affected many of the people—my people—who live in those beautiful mountains.”

You may know that the Smoky Mountains are the birthplace of country music and of Dolly, the genre’s sweetheart, but you will probably be surprised to learn that these mountains are also the home of HGTV, which started in Knoxville, Tennessee, more than 20 years ago. That’s why this disaster hits so close to our hearts and, literally, to our homes.

And that’s also why we’re proud to let you know that on Tuesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. (EST), our sister network, Great American Country, will air Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund to help Dolly and friends raise funds that will help families in the area. “We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires,” Parton said. “I know it has been a trying time for my people and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”

Dolly’s guests next Tuesday night will include Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Amy Grant and more. Other stars have committed funds. Country-pop star Taylor Swift has pledged $100,000, a matching gift that increased the Academy of Country Music’s gift to $200,000.

How to Help

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The resort town of Gatlinburg is nestled into the lush hills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park and town were evacuated during recent wildfires, in which 14 people were killed and 17,000 acres burned. 

Photo by: Gary Heatherly

Gary Heatherly

The resort town of Gatlinburg is nestled into the lush hills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park and town were evacuated during recent wildfires, in which 14 people were killed and 17,000 acres burned. 

Watch the nationally broadcast, three-hour telethon on Great American Country, which seeks to raise money for the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund, established by Parton, The Dollywood Company and Parton’s dinner theaters.

During the telethon, viewers will be asked to call 1-866-CARE MORE to donate to the My People Fund. Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund may visit For those wishing to send donations via mail, those contributions should be sent to: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

Gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains

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The Great Smoky Mountains

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited national park in the country, the Smoky Mountains offer incredible outdoor adventures and tons of family fun.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Why Smoky?

The park gets its name from the blue-purple fog around the mountains. 

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Stunning Views

The roads within the park offer incredible pull offs for photo ops.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

East Tennessee Sunrise

Early bird hikers and campers wake up to a stunning landscape with rolling hills and orange-pink skies. 

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Appalachian Life

Step back in time and see how early settlers lived in the mountains. 

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Fall Foliage

Fall is the best time to visit the park with vibrant orange, yellow and red leaves everywhere to be seen.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Fall Hikes

Some of the best trails for leaf peeping include Alum Cave Trail, Albright Grove Loop and Baskins Creek Falls.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Fall Scenic Loop

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a must-drive in the fall.

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Picturesque Rivers

More than 2,100 miles of streams and rivers run through the park. 

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Log Bridges

Many hikes meander around the water with rustic foot bridges.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Cades Cove

The Cades Cove road loop lets non-hikers tour historic buildings from the 1800s, such as the Carter Shields Cabin.

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

1800s Church

Park visitors can tour many buildings in Cades Cove such as the Primitive Baptist Church.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs


Visitors might also spot wildlife in the Cades Cove loop, from deer and elk to wild turkeys. 

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Black Bears

It's estimated that 1,500 black bears live in the park.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

Family-Friendly Hikes

There are many moderate trails that take less than half a day to hike, perfect for first-time hikers.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

More Historical Cabins

Like the Cades Cove loop, the Roaring Fork River loop offers a chance to see historic buildings, like the Alex Cole Cabin, but has far less traffic. 

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Eastern Hemlocks

The most common, and largest, trees in the park are the Eastern Hemlock trees.

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Mount Le Conte

The park's third highest peak, Mount Le Conte, has a lodge at the top that only hikers and llamas can acces. 

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway offers non-hikers scenic pull offs at high elevations without hitting the trails.

Photo By: Gary Heatherly

Winter Wonderland

Though fall is a gorgeous time to visit, winter is just as beautiful, with snow covered trees and snow-capped mountains. But know before you go that some trails and roads might close for weather.

Photo By: Sam Hobbs

You can also help the Dollywood Foundation share the word about this effort by using the hashtags #MyPeopleFund and #someplacespecial.

GAC Celebrates the Smokies

Why We Love the Great Smoky Mountains

The staff at Great American Country shares their love of the national park and surrounding areas in pictures and memories. 

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