Passing through the Smoky Mountain towns of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville

banner smokies

If you’re heading into Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee side, you’ll most likely pass through towns like Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, which all have their own wacky character.

I first heard of Pigeon Forge during a Kathy Griffin standup special, when she mocked a small theater group from Pigeon Forge that had spent an insane $90,000 to take out a full-page ad in USA Today protesting one of her Emmy acceptance speeches.

pigeon forge welcome center

Pigeon Forge is a town of strip malls and strange businesses. Here’s one of the coolest (weirdest) looking buildings in town: an attraction called Wonderworks. The building has been designed to look like the entire structure is upside-down.

wonderworks pigeon forge

The streets of Pigeon Forge are full of kooky attractions that some families may be interested in. I was content to drive past and admire the entrepreneurial spirit.

pigeon forge tourist traps

pigeon forge stages

pigeon forge sights

Gatlinburg is similar to Pigeon Forge but possesses more of a quaint feel. It has plenty of its own A-list tourist traps like Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Gatlinburg is located just outside the park boundaries, so it has the hills of the Smokies in the background.

downtown gatlinburg

Dolly Parton is huge ’round these parts. Her Dollywood entertainment complex hosts around 3 million visitors per year. If you don’t have time to stop by and ride the coasters, head over to Sevierville to see the Dolly Parton statue at the Sevier County courthouse.

dolly parton statue sevierville

Here’s the best vehicle I spotted in the area. ‘Merica.

america truck

And that’s a fitting way to wrap up our coverage of America’s most-visited national park.


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About the Author

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who seeks out offbeat attractions and awesome destinations around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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