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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge

Spread your wings in this Smoky Mountain roost

Located among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, Pigeon Forge entices visitors from around the globe to explore the region’s natural wonders along with the town’s many theme parks. Here’s a sample of three dazzling attractions that will highlight any trip to the Volunteer State.

Dollywood Delights



It doesn’t take long to recognize that Pigeon Forge has an insatiable desire to entertain. Along the town’s US Route 441, theme park attractions, musical revues and souvenir emporiums reach a level of excitement matched only by Orlando and Las Vegas.

The most spectacular of Pigeon Forge’s amusement parks, Dollywood ambitiously aims to recreate life in past southern communities. The park is a compelling homage to Dolly Parton, the blonde bombshell with the outlandish wardrobe and legendary 40-inch bust who transcended cliché to become country music’s most beloved and enduring symbol. Sure enough, Dollywood boasts extreme rides, carousels, water rides, souvenir shops and fast food restaurants, but there’s more to Dollywood than the predictable amusement park fare.

Along with a full-size steam engine, a school house and the opportunity to taste apple marmalade made according to a 200-year-old southern recipe, visitors can attend a glass-blowing demonstration, watch a fiddle being crafted and even hear a computerized version of Dolly respond to questions with her signature wisecrack humor. But what really distinguishes Dollywood is the high-quality, authentic program of live music performances at more than a dozen theaters and outdoor locations scattered throughout the park; everything from doo-wop to gospel, bluegrass to rock ’n’ roll.

For Dolly devotees, the Chasing Rainbows exhibit is a must. Guests can chart the legend’s rags-to-riches journey, try on her wigs, marvel at her rhinestone-encrusted outfits and even sing a duet with her on a TV screen. Families with young children can also let off steam at the Dollywood Splash Country. There are 23 water slides, a 25,000-square-foot wave pool, special areas for children and a lazy river.

Exploring the Smokies

Some 11 miles from Pigeon Forge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the nation. Straddling the ridgeline of the Smokies, at the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains (the world’s oldest mountain range), the park’s 814 square miles of pristine forest were designated in 1936.

Spanning Tennessee and North Carolina, the park’s unfathomable scale encompasses more than 4,000 species of plants, some 2,000 black bears and over 30 different species of salamanders—mind-blowing diversity for an area this size.

Within 521,000 acres of preserved wilderness, recreational opportunities abound. Over 800 miles of hiking trails afford spectacular views across rolling mountains and deciduous forests bathed in milky haze; the “smoke” is plant respiration produced on a scale and range that would equal a rainforest. With over 2,100 miles of waterways throughout the park, the fishing here is excellent, and thrill-seekers can revel in the park’s exhilarating whitewater rafting opportunities and an array of snow sports during the winter. A large number of family-friendly biking trails crisscross the park. One of the most popular biking trails, the Cades Cove Loop, orbits the park’s eponymous 19th-century settlement and yields prime wildlife viewing.

If you want to escape the 9.4 million visitors that converge on the Smokies each year, head out to the northeast’s backcountry, where the lofty peaks of Mount LeConte offer breathtaking hiking. Here, the observation point of Clingmans Dome, part of the Southern Appalachian mountain range, forms the park’s highest vantage point at 6,643 feet.

Mount LeConte is also the setting for the only non-camping accommodations, LeConte Lodge. One of the most popular (and easiest) hikes, a 2.5-mile (round trip) paved path bisects a series of beautiful cascades before reaching its breathtaking climax at the 60-foot-high Laurel Falls, one of the many accessible waterfalls within the park.

Hail to the King of Rock ’n’ Roll



Elvis may have left the building, but at Pigeon Forge’s Elvis Presley Museum, you can relive the seminal moments in the King’s life. An audio tour peppered with fun anecdotes leads Elvis devotees through 15,000 square feet of space that evoke Elvis in all his glory.

Many of the items which Elvis lavishly bestowed on his friends during his lifetime are now part of the museum’s extensive repository of personal items and autographed memorabilia. In addition to luxury cars, diamond-encrusted jewelry and movie props, items on display include the legend’s wedding reception ice bucket, personal Frisbee, karate gear and signature pieces from Elvis’s flamboyant wardrobe.

In the “Jewelry Vault,” the many trinkets that adorned Presley throughout his life are on display, including the $250,000 ring that Elvis designed and wore throughout his career. Enduring crowd pleasers include the King’s last limousine, the “Double Trouble” tuxedo and his egg-yolk-yellow 1954 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

One exhibit recreates the notorious LA-to-Memphis flight chartered by Elvis that made an unscheduled stop in Denver. The king demanded the flight change when he was struck with a hankering for peanut butter and banana sandwiches. After landing in Denver, Elvis and his crew ordered 30 Fools Gold Loaf sandwiches at the Colorado Mine Company restaurant.

The museum’s TCB Theatre (the acronym comes from the motto embraced by Elvis’s entourage, “Taking Care of Business”) features a variety of tribute shows, concerts, celebrity appearances and star-studded events. The Elvis Presley Museum Gift Shop allows visitors to indulge their idolatry with a fabulous array of collectibles including apparel, books, CDs and DVDs.

For More Information

Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism




Tennessee Department of Tourism