Pigeon Forge is a classic American resort town served with a heap of Southern flair. It’s set at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, making it an ideal headquarters for all your outdoor jaunts. In town, you’ll find an eclectic array of quirky attractions, dinner theaters and outlet malls. Fill your schedule with fun activities and add a few extra days to the itinerary—you’re going to need them if you want to savor sweet country tunes and ride all the thrilling coasters at Dollywood.
Gateway to the Smokies
The misty, haze-shrouded peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains are just a few miles from Pigeon Forge. Welcoming more than 10 million visitors a year, the Smokies are America’s most visited national park, and it’s easy to see why. Home to dense old-growth forests, 730 miles of mountain streams and five historic areas, this park opens the doors to a world of outdoor recreation.
Hiking the Smokies
Brought your hiking boots? Traverse 150 trails, including a 70-mile chunk of the Appalachian Trail, to reach seas of wildflowers, spectacular lookouts and almost 100 preserved buildings from the 19th century. Look around along the way and you might even catch a glimpse of white-tailed deer, elk and the elusive American black bear. Wrap up your adventures at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the state, which offers the most captivating views of the rolling mountains.
Battle Roaring Rapids
Rafting is one of the most popular pastimes here and can be done by paddlers of all skill levels. Book a tour with an adventure company and prepare to smash through rapids on the Pigeon River. The Smoky Mountains also have tranquil lakes perfect for kayaking and canoeing. Those same lakes, along with loads of streams, are hotbeds for all sorts of fish, too. Go to streams at higher elevations like the upper part of Abrams Creek to bag rainbow and brook trout. Smallmouth bass is regularly caught a few miles from the west prong of the Little Pigeon River as well.
Choose Your Path
Whether you’re searching for waterfalls, wildflowers, historic homes or epic views, you’ll find a trail that caters to your interests in the Smokies. There are 850 miles of trails in the park, with some of the most popular routes being Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls, Chimney Tops and Gregory Ridge. Cyclists don’t even need to leave town to find great bike paths. The four-mile Riverwalk Greenway starts at Patriot Park right in Pigeon Forge and offers a scenic ride down the east bank of the Pigeon River.
A Slice of Country Life
Founded by country music star Dolly Parton, Dollywood combines more than 40 rides with parades, musical performances and more. Scream your lungs out on rip-roaring rollercoasters like the Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle, then visit the Chasing Rainbows Museum to see gowns, awards and keepsakes from Dolly’s personal collection. The theme park even celebrates the heritage of the Smokies with blacksmithing demonstrations and live country, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll acts. The music doesn’t stop at Dollywood. Listen to talented artists belt out country hits at the state-of-the-art Smoky Mountain Opry or the Country Tonite Theatre. For even more thrills, Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Adventure Park dishes out the thrills with 35 acres of thrilling water attractions. Take a ride on the Dollywood Express for sights around town.
Music Near the Mountains
If the performing arts are more your thing, watch musical entertainers portray characters from the 1800s at Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, a street performance festival that lasts all summer long. Dollywood knows how to throw a good party with the Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival and also hosts the Festival of Nations, an international music and dance showcase, from March through April.
Pigeon Forge Origins
Pigeon Forge was established in the late 18th century and didn’t get settled until Isaac Love set up his iron forge in 1830. His son constructed a grist mill that still stands today on the same site. Resting on the lovely Little Pigeon River, the Old Mill is still in operation and continues to grind grains for the Old Mill Restaurant. Take a guided tour to learn more about this National Historic Site and capture photos of the waterwheel.
Abandoned buildings and railroad artifacts lurk in the Great Smoky Mountains. Head to Elkmont to uncover a decaying resort town from the 1920s and wooden cabins dating back to the 1830s. You can also venture into Cades Cove to view preserved homes once inhabited by settlers and Revolutionary War veterans.
On the main strip in town, the Titanic Museum Attraction’s 400 dizzying artifacts fill a half-scale replica of the ill-fated RMS Titanic. After receiving a replica boarding pass of a Titanic passenger or crew member, visitors embark on a self-guided tour that allows for appreciation of the Titanic’s decorative crowd-pleasers, including the grand staircase, as well as interactive and educational features. Touch an iceberg, try to stand on sloped decks, dip your hand into 28-degree water and more.
For More Information
Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development