It’s no secret that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have been fun and affordable adventures for vacationers for decades, but there are still some who have yet to experience the natural splendor and adventure that these two cities have to offer. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing hike through the woods or an intense ride down the rapids, there’s never a bad time to pay a visit to the smokies. While there are countless reasons to plan a visit, here are few that are most memorable to us.
11. Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg has found a way to make going both up and down a mountain quite enjoyable; regardless of the season. Even in the warmer months there are sleds that will send you flying down the hill in a bobsled-esque kind of ride. The Aerial Tramway is one of the largest in the country, and provides breathtaking views as it takes you to the top; this is especially true among the changing colors in the fall. The winter, though, is what keeps people coming back. The ski area atop the mountain is smaller than the ones out west, but provide fun for riders of all experience. The view from the top is beautiful, too.
10. Epic Cabins
What exactly makes the cabins above the area so “epic?” Well, to start with, there’s the ridiculously gorgeous views that they provide. One look out into the valley below and the mountains above just might take your breath away. It’s not all about the view, though. The amenities within the cabins are also more than just a cozy getaway. A night under the stars with a few friends or that special someone in the hot tub is probably exactly what you need in your life. Some of these bad boys even come equipped with arcade games! For the best source to find these, we recommend Cabins USA.
9. Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies
If Tripadvisor gave it the #1 rating for aquariums in America last year, you know it has to be legit. What makes this aquarium so impressive is not the fact that they have a bunch of marine animals swimming around, but the experience they have managed to create. With interactive exhibits and a walkway that will take you right below the various animals swimming above, Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies deserves all the credit in the world. Word is that they’re planning some expansions, too.
8. Cade’s Cove
When it comes to the view from the ground level, there’s nothing quite like the surrounding mountains from Cade’s Cove. Everywhere you turn there’s a graceful, old mountain staring back at you. This spot is perfect for picnic in the warmer months, but is still nice in the winter when it doesn’t get quite as cold as the peaks above. If there’s one place that captures the true beauty of the smokies, it’s Cade’s Cove.
7. The View From Clingmans Dome
Speaking of incredible views, let’s just talk about the view from the top of Clingmans Dome for a second. While it’s only open during certain times of the year, it’s worth waiting to see. Sure, you may have to make a short uphill hike to get there, but the view form the top is unreal. On a clear day you can see up to seven different states, and there’s even a handy illustration at the top which will show you where they are. It’s pretty wild when it gets foggy up at the top because you can’t see much, so plan accordingly.
6. Dixie Stampede
Dolly Parton is known for having a lot of pride in her state, and she’s not afraid to get flashy with it, either. The Dixie Stampede will not only feature world-class dining, but you also get some high-quality entertainment while you’re at it. The shows feature some pretty crazy stunts on horses, and it seems like the actors are never out of sync with one another as they create visually-appealing effects and reenactments. Hey, if you’re already going to be eating dinner, why not have a show along with it. You’ll be happy you did.
5. The Tour de Putt Putt
Some say that putt putt is only for kids and families, but we’re here to set the record straight and say that that’s the furthest thing from the truth. If you really want to liven things up, bring a group of friends along and make the loser of each course buy a round of drinks. The competition may be fierce, but you’ll be stoked when you get a bunch of free drinks at the end of the night. Plus the different statues and themes make for great pictures. Looks like pigs really can fly…
Did we already mention that Dolly Parton loves the area surrounding the smokies? Well, if the Dixie Stampede didn’t convince you, then maybe the fact that she has her own theme park will. Located on the outskirts of Pigeon Forge, Dollywood not only has some mellow rides for all types, but is also home to some pretty intense coasters. Pictured below is one of the newest coasters, but there’s going to be a brand new one this year, and it’s supposed to be record-breaking. So, there’s even something for the coaster enthusiast to enjoy!
3. World-Class Hiking Trails
If you haven’t made the hike back to Laurel Falls then you haven’t had the full experience in the smokies. That’s not to say that that’s the only trail that you need to see, but it’s easily one of the most accessible. There are rugged trails with plenty of vertical drops that will get your heart racing, and even scenic ones that will take you to the peaks of local mountains. If you’re in the mood for a real adventure, you can even join the Appalachian Trail in the area. Just kidding. Everything you need is right where you’re at.
2. Whitewater Adventures
We’d be lying to you if we said that these were some of the most intense rapids in the world. While there are some that you can get to without a tour guide, the guided ones are well worth the money and have plenty of Class II-IV rapids on them that will make for a pretty mellow day filled with a little bit of action. Even if you don’t like the idea of whitewater rafting, you can always just go tubing over at River Rat. Sure, it’s a pretty lazy activity, but it’s pretty relaxing just floating down the river in a tube. Just watch out for the rocks. They’ll scratch you pretty good if you’re not paying attention.
1. IT’S THE SMOKIES!
Look, there’s a reason why people keep coming back all throughout their lives. Some pin it on the natural beauty while others will simply call it tradition, but there’s no denying that there’s a certain magic to the place. Some places claim that there’s a little something for everyone there, but that’s never been more true than in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make those reservations for this summer. You deserve some fresh air among one of the most beautiful regions in the country.
What else do you love about the smokies? Share your story in the comment box below!