Anyone who ever visited Gatlinburg in the 1970s or 1980s can tell you that back in those days, it was tough to find parking in downtown Gatlinburg. Even then, the town was really hopping with tourists, so on some days, it could be a real challenge to snag a coveted spot. Fortunately, more and more parking opportunities have been added in the past 20 years or so, so the days of coming up short on parking are fewer and fewer.
As we officially transition from spring into summer, we're already seeing a lot of June in the rear-view mirror here in the Smokies. But there's still plenty of vacation season left, and the next big milestone on our local calendars is the Independence Day holiday coming up on July 4.
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.
Let's be honest. In a perfect world, no one would have to ever deal with having to figure our where to park a vehicle. We could simply teleport from place to place or maybe travel in those pneumatic tubes like everyone did on The Jetsons. Of course, we don't live in a fantasy world or a classic cartoon show. Parking is a reality for anyone driving to a vacation destination.
Gatlinburg is known for packing tons of attractions, restaurants and shops into a fairly small footprint. The city is wedged into a narrow mountain valley, and real estate is at a premium. That's great if you're interested in visiting lots of different businesses when you're vacationing in the Smokies. Pretty much anything you could want to do while you're in town is within walking distance.
One comment we've heard frequently from Smoky Mountain visitors over the years is that they sometimes are tempted to avoid visiting downtown Gatlinburg because they're concerned that finding parking will be a big hassle.
Downtown Gatlinburg has an awful lot going for it – attractions, shops, restaurants and cool special events, not to mention the awesomely spectacular backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Some visitors associate Gatlinburg with inaccessibility due to the city's small footprint and tight mountain-valley setting. And this is true to some extent, but this week, we're going to make a case for why Gatlinburg is the best place to base yourself for the day if you're wanting to easily access the entire Smokies area.
We understand that for many travelers, the idea of public parking can be a painful prospect. Some vendors have been known to charge outrageous rates just for the privilege of leaving your vehicle in a place you won't even be around most of the day. Lots and garages that charge by the hour can make that experience seem even worse.