One of the best methods to get round Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park is probably the most visited nationwide park in america, and visitors is heavy in its gateway cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, particularly in the summertime and on autumn weekends, when the leaves within the Smoky Mountains change shade.

Vacationers driving to and from the park funnel via downtown Gatlinburg on Parkway/US 441, which continues north 7 miles to Pigeon Forge, the house of Dollywood. Gatlinburg is straightforward to discover on foot, however Pigeon Forge is just not. Relying in your vacation spot, shuttles will be a cheap – if not at all times fast – solution to discover prime sights in each cities. Obtain the Gatlinburg app for trolley maps and real-time details about parking availability in metropolis heaps.

With no shade on the sidewalks and lengthy distances between sights, Pigeon Forge is not very pedestrian pleasant © Walter Bibikow / Getty Photos

Exploring on foot


Downtown Gatlinburg is compact and walkable – simply bear in mind that its sidewalks can get uncomfortably crowded. 

The primary thoroughfare is Parkway/US 441, which rolls south via Gatlinburg proper into Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park. (US 441 turns into Newfound Hole Rd after coming into North Carolina.)

Gatlinburg’s busiest part of Parkway runs uphill from Stoplight 3 – which overlooks the junction of Parkway and East Parkway/US 321 – to the doorway to the park. This congested 1-mile stretch to the park’s entrance is packed tight with pancake homes, memento outlets, Ripley’s Imagine It or Not museums and moonshine distilleries. Visitors is often heavy too.

For a extra tranquil stroll via downtown, comply with River Rd south from Parkway at Stoplight 5. This route bypasses the principle sights however runs alongside the Little Pigeon River. The two-mile Gatlinburg Path hyperlinks the southern fringe of downtown with Sugarlands Customer Middle contained in the nationwide park. There are at present no public shuttles to the park or inside the park. 

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Pigeon Forge

For probably the most half, Pigeon Forge is just not pedestrian pleasant. Points of interest are unfold alongside a 5-mile part of Parkway that’s heavy with visitors many of the day and often into the night. There are sidewalks, however crossing will be troublesome – the highway is six lanes large, and stoplights are far aside. There’s additionally no shade, and distances between sights are lengthy. 

One pedestrian-friendly choice is the Riverwalk Greenway, a shaded, 6-mile multi-use greenway alongside the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. It begins on Butler St close to Patriot Park (Outdated Mill Ave) and connects with the Island leisure district and the Pigeon Forge Neighborhood Middle. The Island, which sprawls throughout a broad plaza anchored by the Nice Smoky Mountain Wheel, can also be pedestrian pleasant. 

A green and brown Fun Time Trolley, painted with cartoon bears and trees on the side, under a tree by a trolley stop in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee,
Pigeon Forge operates 5 year-round Enjoyable Time Trolley routes and a sixth within the summertime © cweimer4 / Getty Photos

Taking a trolley or shuttle


Free trolleys journey on three routes in and round Gatlinburg. All three cease on the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Middle beside Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the place there’s a customer heart. 

The Purple Route loops round Parkway and River Rd downtown, passing lots of the space’s prime sights. It additionally hyperlinks to the Park & Trip on the Gatlinburg Welcome Middle & Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park Info Middle, that are all positioned on Parkway about 2 miles north of downtown. 

Drivers coming into Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge can park without spending a dime on the Park & Trip, then hop the Purple Route trolley, avoiding parking charges and hassles in Gatlinburg. The Purple Route’s hours of operation are 8:30am to midnight from Could via October, with shorter hours the remainder of the yr.

The seasonal Yellow Route stops alongside the Nice Smoky Arts & Crafts Neighborhood, an arts path lined with galleries, studios and outlets. The Blue Route runs to the Conference Middle, Metropolis Corridor, Rocky Prime Sports activities World and the Neighborhood Middle.

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge operates six Fun Time Trolley routes. 5 of them run year-round, and there’s one seasonal route in summer season to Dollywood’s Splash Nation. All trolleys cease at Patriot Park (186 Outdated Mill Ave), the place parking is free. 

Fares differ by route, and also you pay per journey until you may have bought a day cross. Hours are 8:00am to midnight March via October, with shorter hours the remainder of the yr. An all-day cross prices $3. Passes will be bought on the mass transit workplace at Patriot Park.

Trolleys run north and south alongside Parkway in Pigeon Forge, whereas the Dollywood Trolley runs between Patriot Park and Dollywood ($2.50). The Gatlinburg Welcome Middle Trolley ($1) travels nonstop from Patriot Park to the Gatlinburg Welcome Middle, talked about above, which is 2 miles north of Gatlinburg. Switch to the Gatlinburg Purple Route for a trolley experience into downtown Gatlinburg. 

Visitors at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort can experience a complimentary shuttle to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Nation. Visitors preferring to drive their very own automobiles can park without spending a dime at both park. 

Be aware that driving trolleys in each cities will be time-consuming, particularly if crowds are heavy. 

People walking around Main Street in downtown Gatlinburg Tennessee, USA
You don’t want a automotive to discover downtown Gatlinburg and its sights © csfotoimages / Getty Photos

Getting round by automotive


You don’t want a automotive to discover downtown Gatlinburg and its sights, that are largely contained inside a 1-mile stretch of Parkway. Visitors is kind of heavy in summer season and on weekends, and driving will be slow-going. If you wish to discover the adjoining nationwide park in any depth, nevertheless, you will have a automotive.

Parkway is the principle thoroughfare via downtown, and it rolls immediately into the park. It additionally hyperlinks to Pigeon Forge. Instructions are sometimes given by the stoplight quantity alongside Parkway.


The town operates two massive garages downtown, every with about 365 spots. One is on the Ripley’s Aquarium (161 Greystone Heights Rd), and the opposite is the McMahan Parking Storage (520 Parkway) at Stoplight #3. Every prices $10 per day. There are free park-and-ride heaps on the Gatlinburg Welcome Middle and one other on Hwy 321 on the Metropolis Corridor advanced. After parking, hop on a shuttle to downtown. Charges at non-public heaps can vary from $15 to $20 per day. 

Prime tip: If you happen to’re very fortunate, or very early, you may discover a free spot on River Highway.

Pigeon Forge

Most vacationers will want a automotive in Pigeon Forge, which stretches 5 miles alongside Parkway. Parkway is six lanes large in spots and lined with sights and outlets. Though trolleys do journey to greater than 200 stops in Pigeon Forge, it might be simpler to drive your individual automotive.

Chances are you’ll not wish to drive to Dollywood or Dollywood’s Splash Nation, nevertheless – parking at every park is $25 per day. A extra economical choice is to park on the free lot at Patriot Park after which hop a shuttle. Trolley fare is $2.50 a technique or $3 for an all-day cross. If there is a cease close to your lodge, you possibly can catch a trolley to Patriot Park and keep away from driving altogether. Have the precise fare prepared, as a result of no change is given. 

Automotive rental

There are eight rental-car businesses at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. The airport is the most effective place to hire a automotive when you’re planning to discover the gateway cities and the nationwide park. The airport is 35 miles from Pigeon Forge and about 45 miles from Gatlinburg. There may be an Enterprise Rental Automotive in Sevierville, and a number of other businesses hire Jeeps and journey autos in and round Gatlinburg.

Electrical-car charging stations

There are 11 free locations to cost your automobile throughout Pigeon Forge, together with stations on the city-run Mountain Lot (2989 Teaster Lane), the Island and the Titanic Museum.

Town of Gatlinburg Tennessee lit up at night
Hailing a taxi on the road could also be troublesome in Gatlinburg © SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Photos

Taxi and ride-sharing

Taxis can be found throughout Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, as are Uber and Lyft. Taxi providers to Pigeon Forge can value $60 to $70, whereas journeys to Gatlinburg value $80 to $100. Trip share costs differ. 

You’ll almost definitely want to order a taxi upfront, as a result of hailing a taxi on the road could also be troublesome in Gatlinburg and significantly onerous in Pigeon Forge. 

Seeing the sights by bike 

Biking on Parkway is just not really helpful in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge resulting from heavy visitors. 

Trails and Greenways

You may bike from the southern fringe of Gatlinburg into the nationwide park on the two-mile Gatlinburg Path. The path ends on the Sugarlands Customer Middle. The Townsend Bike Path in Townsend is a paved path operating alongside US 321 for about 5 miles, with sections overlooking the gorgeous Little River.

In Pigeon Forge you possibly can hop on the Riverwalk Greenway, which stretches throughout town for about 4 miles. You may decide it up on Butler St close to Patriot Park or on the Island. 

Contained in the nationwide park the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Rd is closed to motorized autos on Wednesdays from early Could via September. Biking previous wildlife and historic constructions, freed from bumper-to-bumper automobiles, is an invigorating and stress-free solution to discover.

Introducing the USA’s Nationwide Parks

Driving excursions and Jeep adventures

A number of firms lead journey excursions into the mountains. These journeys aren’t designed for point-to-point journey, however they could be a enjoyable and informative introduction to the nationwide park and the Smoky Mountains. 

Great Smoky Mountains Pink Jeep excursions drive to scenic areas of the park, and guides talk about native historical past and wildlife. There’s off-road 4×4 enjoyable on the finish of the tour. For extra choices, verify the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce’s list of regional guiding firms.

The nationwide park sells cheap booklets to accompany self-guided driving excursions to totally different areas of the park. The booklets embody details about historical past, wildfire and vegetation, and these particulars correspond to numbered posts and landmarks. Locations embody the Cades Cove Loop Rd, Newfound Hole Rd and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Path. Purchase a booklet at one of many park’s customer facilities or on-line. 

Accessible journey in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

All Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge mass-transit trolleys are lift-equipped for wheelchairs and different mobility aids. The lifts will be accessed at any designated trolley cease. 

ADA paratransit service could also be obtainable for origin-to-destination providers in Gatlinburg for these whose incapacity or well being situation prevents them from utilizing the fixed-route service, however riders should apply and be accredited. Those that can not get to a trolley cease in Pigeon Forge can name for a paratransit van pickup the following day by calling 865-453-6444. Paratransit van fare is $1 per individual a technique. 

Sidewalks will be steep and crowded in Gatlinburg, which makes them lower than supreme for wheelchairs and strollers. You may escape the crowds and get a hen’s-eye view of downtown on the wheelchair-accessible Ober Gatlinburg tram, which has again ramp entry and precedence boarding. Simply word that not all rides and actions on the summit can accommodate wheelchairs. 

The paved half-mile Sugarlands Valley Nature Path, positioned in a second-growth forest on US 441 south of Sugarlands Customer Middle, is an accessible path alongside a stream. Interpretive displays share particulars concerning the surrounding pure options.

Obtain Lonely Planet’s free on-line guide to accessible journey on-line assets.

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