Getting around on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, as many know, can be an absolute chore. Unless traveling to the area during the slow tourist times, which are few and far between, traffic can be a huge burden on planning. The purpose of this guide is to help travelers get around like the locals.
Below, we will be discussing routes to the entrances of the Smoky Mountain National Park in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, along with various back roads in Pigeon Forge that the locals use to avoid traffic. Lets start with a few of the lesser known entrances to the National Park. This is essential and allows easier access to the Park and its trails and visitor centers.
Lyon’s Spring Rd entrance into Smoky Mountain National Park:
This entrance is located near Wears Valley which is SW of Pigeon Forge on Route 321. To get to Wears Valley, take Route 321 SW from Pigeon Forge at stoplight #3. Once in Wears Valley, follow Lyon Springs Rd South directly into the National Park.
Townsend entrance into Smoky Mountain National Park:
The Townsend entrance to the Park is the quickest route to take when traveling to Cade’s Cove. It is located in the small town of Townsend. Follow Wears Valley Rd (Route 321) SW through Wears Valley and past until you reach Townsend. Once in Townsend, take a LEFT on Route 73 and follow it into the National Park.
Greenbrier entrance into the Smoky Mountain National Park:
The Greenbrier Entrance into the Park is located just to the East of Gatlinburg on Greenbrier Rd. This is an easy entrance to find but it is just as easy to miss as well as it is not well advertised. It is immediately across the road from Hungry Bear BBQ. This entrance is only used to access a few trails such as Ramsey Cascades and much of it is gravel.
Now that we have covered the lesser known entrances into the Park, lets talk about must-know back roads that really allow you to get around like a local. I first want to mention the Parkway which stretches from Sevierville to Gatlinburg and is where all major traffic occurs in the area. Getting a few miles up the road can be daunting when using this as you main route of travel so the number one objective here is to avoid this as much as possible. Please note that it is not completely avoidable but follow these tips and you will find traversing through the area is much easier than once thought!
Teaster Ln runs parallel to the Parkway in Pigeon Forge and offers many tie-ins to the Parkway. As seen below, it only runs along the Parkway for about 3 miles but has minimal traffic comparatively. If coming into Pigeon Forge from Wears Valley Rd (Route 321), instead of taking a right or left onto the Parkway, continue straight to get to Teaster Ln.
Veterans Blvd also runs nearly parallel to the Parkway but stretches about 6 miles north into Sevierville. This is the quickest route to get from Pigeon Forge to Sevierville. The only downside to this route is that there is only 1 major tie-in to the Parkway which is Collier Dr. The convenience of Collier Dr is that it leads directly to Wal-Mart which is a popular destination for groceries.
South New Era Rd:
S New Era Rd is a great route to use when trying to get from Wears Valley Rd to the area of the Parkway where Wal-Mart is located. The distance is actually a bit further than using the Parkway but has no traffic lights and only a few stop signs. This is a must-know during peak traffic times and will cut down on travel time drastically.
So there you have it! These are just a few quick tips on how to get around like a local in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area. Hopefully everyone will find these tips useful to save on time and add to fun during their vacation to the Smoky Mountains!