Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park on three sides, Gatlinburg is truly the park's primary gateway. This small mountain town, home to just under 4,000 residents, boasts a profound arts and crafts scene, a variety of lodging options and restaurants, easy access to the great outdoors, family friendly and kitschy attractions, and an entirely walkable downtown. During the day you can find souvenirs and keepsakes along the 8-mile Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Once the sun sets, discover southern entertainment in the form of theatrical performances, magic shows, or a ride up the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. In the summer months, get outdoors and explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a dozen of trails, whitewater rafting, fishing, and biking. In the winter, don't miss the Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee's only ski resort combined with an amusement park.
Gatlinburg is enclosed on all sides by mountain ridges. From Le Conte and Sugarland Mountain to the south, Cove Mountain to the west, Big Ridge to the north, and Grapeyard Ridge to the east, it's no wonder this town offers so much to do in the outdoors. Route 441 is the primary thoroughfare through town, from north to south. Pigeon Forge is just 6 miles to the north and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just 2 miles south. The closest airport is the McGhee-Tyson Airport (TYS), about 40 miles away in Knoxville. Car rentals are available at the airport and provide the easiest way to explore the area. Once you are in town, hop aboard a Gatlinburg Trolley to get around, the town's official public transportation. Peak travel time is in the summer and fall, from June through August when it is the warmest and from September through October for fall foliage.
Things to Do
Gallatin Parkway and Riverwalk: Two options for walking through and exploring downtown Gallatin. Take the bustling Parkway by shops and restaurants or the quiet Riverwalk along the Little Pigeon River.
Smoky Mountains Hiking: Hiking trails abound in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in surrounding national forest trails. Carve out a chunk of time for a piece of the Appalachian Trail, climb to the top of Mt. LeConte, or keep it easy and head to Grotto Falls.
Sky Lift: A fun family activity, this 2 mile aerial cable car travel from downtown to Ober Gatlinburg.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Don't miss the highlights like Newfound Gap, Sugarlands Visitor Center, Clingman’s Dome, Ocanaluftee Valley and Mingus Mill.
Whitewater Rafting: Join a guided trip through class IV rapids on the Big Pigeon River.
Ober Gatlinburg: Amusement park, ski resort, tubing hill, all in one.
Fishing: Fish for trout along local streams including West Prong Little Pigeon River, Dudley Creek, Roaring Fork, and LeConte Creek.
Cades Cove: Grab your bicycle and head to Cades Cove, an 11 mile journey along a loop road.
Space Needle: This 400 foot observation tower overlooks Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smoky Mountains.
Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail: Explore over 100 shops along this historic 8-mile loop, featuring local craftspeople and artists.