Things to Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

Things to Do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
The close proximity of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to the Great Smoky Mountains and national forest lands make it a perfect retreat for outdoors enthusiasts who want experience the majesty of the southern Appalachians. This region, which straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, features a perfect blend of natural beauty and folk culture.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Tennessee entrance to America's most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains, lies just south of Gatlinburg. Inside the park, you'll find 800 miles of hiking and backpacking trails. The 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road is a popular place for cycling. With 2,115 miles of streams, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also a perfect destination for anglers. The park shelters one of the few wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. With either a North Carolina or Tennessee fishing permit, you can fish year-round anywhere inside the park, from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. The park also offers ten developed campsites featuring cold running water and flush toilets. However, no electrical hookups or showers are available inside the park. Camping fees as of September 2009 are $14 to $20. For backpackers, the park also offers primitive camping in back-country sites. For this you need a free permit, available at any park visitor center or ranger's stations.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 436-1200


Whitewater Rafting

The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River for the whole family. Located on the eastern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Pigeon River features class III and IV rapids. The less challenging, Lower Pigeon section of the river requires a minimum age of four years to participate. The upper Pigeon offers more challenging rapids for teens and adults. Prices as of September 2009 are $19 for children four to seven on the Lower Pigeon, $38 for adults on the Lower Pigeon and $40 for adults and children age eight years (or 70 lb.) and up on the Upper Pigeon.

Nantahala Outdoor Center
951 E Parkway, Suite 21
Gatlinburg, TN 37738-4914
(865) 277-8209
(866) 349-5364

Winter Sports

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort boasts eight downhill ski trails, with ample chair lifts to keep you on the slopes and not waiting in line. Trails are divided for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Ski season runs from mid-December through early-March on average. Lift tickets as of September 2009 range from $30 to $89 with special rates for children and seniors. Ober Gatlinburg also features an indoor skating rink, as well as dining facilities and a wildlife park.

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort & Amusement Park
1001 Parkway
Gatlinburg TN, 37738
(865) 436-5423

Cherokee National Forest

The Cherokee National Forest, a 640,000-acre tract of public land, straddles the Tennessee/North Carolina border. The forest is divided into two parcels, north and south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thirty developed campsites are located within the forest, with fees required. Campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis, except for the Indian Boundary and McNabb Creek campsites, where reservations are available. Primitive camping is allowed outside developed campsites, with no fees or permits required. The maximum stay is 14 days. The 20-mile John Muir Trail follows the Hiwassee State Scenic River. Thirteen waterfalls are located within the park. Cherokee National Forest also features the Ocoee Whitewater Center. Built for the 1996 Olympics, the Ocoee Whitewater Center draws more than 120,000 water-sports enthusiasts annually.

Cherokee National Forest
2800 North Ocoee St.
Cleveland, TN 37312-5374
(423) 476-9700


Article Written By Jeffrey Caldwell

Jeffrey Caldwell has been a freelance writer for over five months and has published over 250 articles on websites like eHow and Caldwell writes articles on a wide range of topics including travel, camping and automotive mechanics. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Millersville University.

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