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. The Great Smoky Mountains Association provides visitor services in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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.
Just north of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are best known as the home of Dolly Parton’s popular “Dollywood” amusement complex as well as popular shopping outlets and entertainment venues. This valley area was part of the Cherokee 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. Today, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville contain a host of family-friendly attractions that are as much of a draw to visitors as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.