Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
Tips and Secrets
Shortcut to Gatlinburg from Magnificent 7 - Don't go through Pigeon Forge to get to Gatlinburg - take the Foothills Parkway/Sharkeytown Road shortcut and enjoy a wonderful drive with a spectacular view. Details on the "location" page.
Pigeon Forge - Sometimes traffic can be heavy in Pigeon Forge. For a quicker way to get through town, take Teaster Ln/Davis Rd, which runs parallel on the east side of 441. This shortcut is especially useful for accessing the outlet malls.
Cades Cove - If traffic becomes too heavy on the Cove Loop Road, you can shortcut the loop on Sparks Lane or Hyatt Lane. If you want to increase your chances of seeing wildlife in the area, plan your trip for just after sun-up or just before sun-down. Your best chance for seeing a bear on your vacation is to visit Cades Cove.
Try one of the Quiet Walkways. It's amazing how short a distance from the road one has to go to become engulfed in the beauty of the mountains.
Elk have been re-introduced to the Park in an effort to preserve them as a native species. The elk are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park, and the best time to view elk are usually early morning and late evening.
Guided Nature Walks by A Walk In The Woods - When you take a guided nature walk, you'll learn all about the history of the Smokies. Guided hikes go deeper into the forest, cover more terrain and take you into places most visitors never see.
Dollywood and Splash Country
Get there early and avoid the crowds. The official opening time is 9 a.m., but the gates actually open at 8:30 a.m. The least crowded day is usually Thursday.
Get two days for the price of one. If you first enter the park after 3 p.m., you can return the next day using the same ticket.
The entrance price is reduced (30% off) for those connected with the military (active, retired, or reservists). Be sure to bring your military ID.
The concession stands will give you a free cup of ice water if you ask for one.
Pigeon Forge is full of incredible outlet malls with great bargains, but be sure to factor in the sales tax of 9.5%. If you time your visit right, you can take advantage of Tennessee's sales tax holidays (Apr 27-29 and Aug 3-5, 2007), which will allow tax-free purchases on clothing, school supplies, and computers.
Tanger Outlet Mall sells a coupon book for $5 (free for AAA members), with coupons for savings in almost all of its stores.
As you would expect, businesses in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are handicap-accessible, as required by law. But here are some things that you might not expect:
Temporary Handicap Parking Permit - If someone in your group is disabled, you may get a temporary parking permit at the National Park Sugarlands Visitor Center. Accessible parking spaces are available in the Visitor Center parking lot, and the rest rooms are also accessible.
Wheelchair-Accessible Picnic Sites and rest room facilities are available at the Cades Cove, Chimneys, Collins Creek, Cosby, and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Areas.
Special People Park provides wheelchair access to the water. There are picnic tables and outdoor grills for those who want to picnic. This park is located in Townsend.
Laurel Falls is handicap-accessible by wheelchair. It is a beautiful, paved hike, ending at Laurel Falls. This hike is rated easy to moderate, and is 1.3 miles to the Falls.
Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies, is accessible by a steep, paved road. A handicap-accessible tower is located at the summit, from which five states can be seen.