"Gatlinburg: Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains" Top 5 Page for this destination Gatlinburg by Stephen-KarenConn

Gatlinburg Travel Guide: 398 reviews and 699 photos

Most people either love Gatlinburg or they hate it - or both. When I lived and worked in Gatlinburg, I often met visitors who come once or several times a year and think it is the neatest place in the world. Occasionally I encountered first time visitors who expected to find a quaint little out-of-the-way mountain village and were shocked by the congested glare. Gatlinburg is literally within footsteps of the most visited National Park in the United States, and has been in a non-stop boom ever since the formation of the Park, in the 1930s. However, expansion is severely limited by the mountains and surrounding parkland. Not to be deterred, developers just keep tearing down old structures and building bigger and better ones. First the development was to provide accomodations and sell hand-made mountain crafts to visitors to the park. Today, sad to say, many people come for the tourist attractions of Gatlinburg and never give the Park a second look.

Gatlinburg is definitely NOT your typical Appalachian village. It is a small town of just over 3,000 population that draws up to 10 million visitors a year. Take Gatlinburg on its own terms. Enjoy the restaurants, museums, amusements, fudge, and entertainment - knowing that whenever the clamor gets to be too much, you can easily escape into the serene fastness of Eastern America's greatest wilderness area.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A fun place: great shops, lodging, and restaruants
  • Cons:Crowded, noisy, and totally touristy
  • In a nutshell:The Ultimate Mountain Tourist Town
  • Last visit to Gatlinburg: May 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

Comments (22)

  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    I'm enjoying your Gatlinburg tips - my husband and I went to the Great Smoky Mountains for our honeymoon last year and it was wonderful! We loved hiking in the GSM, and can't wait to go back to visit next week. Cheers!

  • Oct 3, 2008 at 8:35 PM

    I have been to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge at least once a year for most of my life and this trip, for the very first time, I am going to the park! Finally hubby and I are taking our own vehicle and don't have to be Dixie Stampeeded to death! I'm so excited!

  • Aug 16, 2008 at 9:03 PM

    If anyone runs across this outdated page as I did. Be aware this restaurant is no longer there. It has been replaced by a place called 'Smokeys'. It is a bar and grill

  • starship's Profile Photo
    May 29, 2008 at 11:06 AM

    Terrific page!! So much info. & great pictures too. Interesting story about Mr. Gatlin and the Ogle(sby) clan. The national park itself must be amazing! Great work!

  • Mar 8, 2008 at 3:25 PM

    Can you tell me the name of the wedding chapel on Airport Road? It is in the vicinity, across the street from the Holiday Inn, or thereabout. Thank you for your help.

  • May 31, 2007 at 3:01 PM

    Do you know anything about Timber Top Cabins - 'An Incredible View"? Any info would be helpful.

  • Sep 27, 2005 at 5:46 PM

    We'll definitely check this place out for a bit next week! Great info!! We'll probably head right to the lift!

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2005 at 5:41 PM

    Fantastic page! Planned to skip Gat. altogether & make haste for the Smokies, but your page made me reconsider. Esp liked your tip about the Park Grill. Haven't been to Yellowstone in decades but the description brought it all back. Great job. Thanks.

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    May 19, 2005 at 2:21 AM

    This area looks so beautiful, Hope to get here one day. Great to learn where you & Karen got married, what a lovely choice! I didnt realise the Smokies were so popular. Such a good page Stephen, thanks (~_~)

  • tpal's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2005 at 12:12 PM

    10,000,000 visitors a year and I missed it...I need to get out more. Reminds me of Old Forge in the Adirondacks. On a much smaller scale but can be congested at high season. Like Yogi Berra said, "Nobody goes there...it's too crowded!" Nice page...Tom

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