Download GPX file for this article
35.71247-83.51577Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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.


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, which has a permanent population of only 3,900 people (2019), 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. Gatlinburg is a typical tourist town, with many attractions and quirky shops lining the Parkway.

Get in[edit]

Map of Gatlinburg

By car[edit]

Gatlinburg is best reached by the north by taking I-40 to Tennessee Route 66 south. Follow Tennessee Route 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 Maryville, TN).

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 Bypass 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[edit]

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.


Most visitors to Gatlinburg are here due to the close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the surrounding outdoor adventures, 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.


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.


Festivals and events[edit]

  • March-June Smoky Mountain Springfest
  • April 12 White Blaze Day benefiting The Appalachian Trail Conservancy ~ held in the parking lot of The Happy Hiker from 10am - 6pm. Free live Blue Grass, lots of food, - all proceeds benefits The Appalchian Trail Conservancey (the folks that maintain the AT).
  • Mid April Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Easter Show
  • Mid April Ribfest & Wings
  • Late April Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
  • Mid May Gatlinburg Scottish Festival & Games
  • Mid May Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival
  • Early July 4th of July Midnight Parade
  • Early July River Raft Regatta
  • September 1-December 31 Old Fashined Hayrides
  • Mid September-Late October Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
  • Late September Taste of Autumn
  • Early October Gatlinburg Heritage Days
  • Early-Mid October Gatlinburg Craftmen's Fair
  • November-February Smoky Mountain Winterfest
  • Early November Winterfest Kickoff & Chili Cookoff
  • Early November-Late December Gatlinburg Trolley Ride of Lights
  • November 11 Veterans Day Celebration
  • Late November Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Holiday Show
  • November-December Old Fashioned Hayrides
  • December 1 Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
  • Early December Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Christmas Show
  • December 31 New Years Eve Ball Drop and Pyrotechnic Show






  • Texas Roadhouse, 1019 Park Way, +1 865 430-4284. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. A chain restaurant that features steaks. $15-25 per mains.
  • The Peddler, 820 River Road, +1 865 436-5794. A great steakhouse which allows patrons to view and choose from several cuts of steak before being cooked. Steaks are cooked over hickory for a nice woody flavor. Much better than chain steakhouse steaks. $15-40 per mains.



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

Bed & breakfasts[edit]

  • The Foxtrot Bed & Breakfast, 1520 Garrett Lane (Garrett Lane is the second right off of Garrett Road; the Foxtrot B&B is the third house on the right approximately 2.8 miles from traffic light #10), toll-free: +1-888-436-3033. Four guest rooms with private baths and views of Mt. Leconte and the Great Smoky Mountains. The balconies overlook Gatlinburg. $145-$185.

Hotels and motels[edit]

  • Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 135 Reagan Dr (behind the Space Needle and Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, 1/2 block from the Parkway), toll-free: +1-888-468-6386. Downtown Gatlinburg Hotel offering 57 rooms and suites including jacuzzi suites, balcony rooms and fireplaces. All rooms have a microwave, fridge, iron, ironing board, hair-dryer, coffee maker, free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.
  • River Terrace Resort and Convention Center, 240 River Rd, toll-free: +1-800-251-2040. Offers private balcony views from king or double queen rooms with mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker. Amenities include two pools, a restaurant, lounge, and 25,000 square feet of meeting space that includes a ballroom, breakout rooms and a conference center. Bus parking available.
  • Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, 915 Westgate Resort Rd. Family friendly resort hotel offering studio and one bedroom suites. Property includes swimming pools, a spa, a lounge, restaurant, arcade, walking trails, kids club and more. Also the home to the largest indoor water park in the south, Wild Bear Falls.

Cabin rentals[edit]


Go next[edit]

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 CityPigeon Forge  S  N  NewportJohnson City
KnoxvillePigeon Forge  N  S  Great Smoky Mountains N.P.Athens

This city travel guide to Gatlinburg is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!