Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains” – the city of Gatlinburg, located in Sevier County, is one of eastern Tennessee’s most visited cities. In 1934, during the first operating year of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is estimated that close to 400,000 visitors passed through the city, the beginning of Gatlinburg’s transformation from sleepy mountain community into the major tourist destination you see today.
With mountains rising on all sides, including Le Conte and Sugarland to the south, Cove Mountain to the west, Big Ridge to the northeast, and Grapeyard Ridge to the east; Gatlinburg is the natural home of the only ski resort in the state of Tennessee – Ober Gatlinburg.
Approximately seven miles north of Gatlinburg, and less than 12 square miles in area, Pigeon Forge is best known as the home of Dolly Parton’s popular “Dollywood” amusement complex as well as popular shopping outlets and entertainment venues. Named for an iron forge built around 1820, this valley area was part of the Cherokee Indian’s hunting grounds and “Indian Gap Trail” footpath prior to its European settlement.
In the late 1960s, Pigeon Forge become a popular outpost for businesses that had difficulty establishing themselves in nearby Gatlinburg. The city remains a “dry” jurisdiction – meaning that sales of alcohol are prohibited within city limits.