Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a resort town located in eastern Tennessee. It is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Downtown Gatlinburg may come as somewhat of a shock for those on their way to a nature getaway in the national park - from the Space Needle to the amusement rides, the town hasn't necessarily chosen to embrace its "nature" side. That said, there is plenty of lodging, restaurants, and other amenities to make this town a useful base for exploring the park.

Understand

The town's development is closely tied to that of the national park, which was opened in 1934. While in 1912 the town had only six houses, by 1935 over 500,000 visitors were passing through the town each year, and today over 9 million people each year visit the park. The town grew quickly to accommodate the influx, but has had to deal with issues of urban sprawl and air quality as a result of the huge numbers of outsiders that pass through.

Get in

Gatlinburg is best reached by the north by taking I-40 to TN 66 SOUTH. Follow TN 66 to US 441 in Sevierville and follow US 441 through Pigeon Forge and into Gatlinburg.

From the west, Gatlinburg can be reached by either US 441 (from Knoxville) or US 411 and US 321 (from Marysville).

From the south US 441 passes through the heart of the Smokies, bringing in traffic from Cherokee, NC. It is about 35 miles from Cherokee to Gatlinburg, but the high volume of tourist traffic on the road can make the trip at least an hour long.

From the east US 321 brings in traffic directly from I-40 coming in from North Carolina.

Gatlinburg is a very popular resort town, which can be a nightmare for drivers during the peak summer months, especially on weekends. If you are headed to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park it is best to use the Gatlinburg By-Pass to avoid the traffic delays. Once you are in town, there are several short cuts to get you through town and off the main drag!

Get around

Gatlinburg offers a trolley that takes tourists around the town without fighting the traffic. There are several park-and-ride locations: the Gatlinburg Visitor Center has free parking and access to the purple route; the Gatlingburg Mass Transit Center (located behind the Ripley's Aquarium) offers pay parking and access to all trolley routes. The Gatlinburg By-Pass allows traffic heading into the National Park from the north to bypass the Gatlinburg business district. There are scenic vistas along this road as well.

See

Most visitors to Gatlinburg are here due to the close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but for those who want to escape from nature there are a vast number of attractions in town, ranging from interesting to educational to tacky & bizarre.

Do

Visitors to town will likely spend their days in Great Smoky Mountains National Park enjoying activities such as hiking along the Appalachian Trail, but for those looking for adventure rides, arcades, water parks, or other diversions there is plenty to choose from in town.

Attractions

Festivals & Events

Buy

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge


Sleep

Gatlinburg has an abundance of accommodations to choose from. Lodging is also available in the nearby towns of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

Bed & Breakfasts

Hotels & Motels

Cabin Rentals

Campgrounds

Go next

To the north, Pigeon Forge offers a wide array of shops and attractions including Dollywood. To the south, across the Great Smoky Mountains, the town of Cherokee is an interesting Indian village and casino gambling.

Routes through Gatlinburg

Lenoir City Pigeon Forge  S  N  Newport Johnson City
Knoxville Pigeon Forge  N  S  Great Smoky Mountains N.P. Athens


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 21, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.