By Leif Palmer
Posted on January 21, 2022
Here's a scenario: You travel to the Great Smoky Mountains for a winter weekend getaway or perhaps a full-fledged vacation week. However, after you arrive, Mother Nature dumps a lot of snow on the area (just like we're experiencing this week). The City of Gatlinburg is pretty good about keeping the roads cleared to drive, but let's just say you're not exactly eager to get out on the streets and push your luck.
Here's another scenario: You're visiting the Smokies in peak season, but the main roads are pretty congested, and you would just as soon not spend that much time sitting behind the wheel and burning your own gas.
We'd like to pass along a few suggestions for how to deal with either scenario. When you're vacationing in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, you don't have to rely exclusively on your vehicle for transportation. There are other ways to enjoy all the fun and keep the driving to a bare minimum.
This is one cost-effective way to travel just about anywhere you could want to go in the Smokies. Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge operate their own trolley systems, with routes that cover the most popular areas of town and beyond. Destinations include Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community and multiple stops along the Parkway and other arteries in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. Gatlinburg trolleys also run to Pigeon Forge, so you can switch from one carrier to another and broaden your range. The fares are reasonable, and trolleys are heated in winter, although you can expect fewer available routes during the off-season. Learn more about the Gatlinburg trolley at https://www.gatlinburg.com/trolley/ and the Pigeon Forge trolley at https://www.mypigeonforge.com/planning/fun-time-trolley.
There are three popular attractions overlooking downtown Gatlinburg that rely on some form of secondary transportation to get from the Parkway to the attraction itself. These include Ober Gatlinburg, which utilizes the Aerial Tramway to get to the mountaintop ski resort; Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, which utilizes its SkyLift to shuttle guests to the rest of the attraction's activities; and Anakeesta, which uses its Chondola transport to shuttle guests to that destination mountaintop. In the case of Anakeesta and SkyLift, the cost of transportation is built into the admission price, whereas the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway requires a separate ticket.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer lots of attractions, shops, restaurants and hotels in a relatively compact footprint, so traveling by foot is easy in both communities and allows guests to access a wide range of destinations without an excessive amount of effort.
Remember that if you take advantage of our public parking in Gatlinburg, you can leave your vehicle in one handy, cost-effective location for an entire day while utilizing other modes of transportation to experience that city and other points of interest beyond.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.