By Leif Palmer
Posted on September 7, 2018
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.
For one thing, if your plan is to spend time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can't pick a better location. Gatlinburg borders the park on its northern side, and you can be near popular hiking and picnicking destinations in just a matter of minutes. And of course, anything you're looking to do in downtown Gatlinburg is a cinch. The entire length of the Parkway is walkable, and if you're headed to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, you can even hop on the aerial tramway at its downtown station. From there, it's a straight, two-mile shot to the top of the mountain.
But what if you're wanting to do something in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville? What's the advantage to staying or parking in Gatlinburg? This is where the strategy of having good parking options comes into play. Pigeon Forge and Sevierville don't really have much public parking to speak of, and what little there is often is maxed out. That means you can drive to wherever you're going in those cities, but when you're done, you have to move on to your next stop.
However, if you park your car in Gatlinburg, you're done relocating your vehicle for the day. You can choose any of our six downtown locations, and from there, you can get just about anywhere by foot or by trolley. The Gatlinburg trolley system is fantastic and will take you to any part of town you're interested in for one very reasonable fare. Some of the routes will even take you into the national park as well as Dollywood and Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. From there, you can transfer to the Pigeon Forge trolley system and hit any number of places in that town and even Sevierville.
So next time you plan a trip to the Smokies, consider making Gatlinburg your home base. Accommodation providers like The Appalachian Lodge give guests a combination of great location and top-notch amenities for stays of a night or more. But even if you just drive in for the day, don't forget that you can find plenty of available parking downtown and still do all the things you want to do in the area without having to worry about finding parking again and again.
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.