Though it’s not as prevalent as it was 20 or so years ago, Gatlinburg is still thought by many as the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And although it’s not, it’s actually just outside the entrance, it’s a metaphorical gateway nonetheless.
Still, if you’re wanting to get from downtown to the actual park headquarters, it’s a short 2.9 miles from the center of town just to be exact, down the parkway (U.S. 441), before making a right on Park Headquarters Road and reaching 107 Park Headquarters Rd. It’s almost as simple as going from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge.
Is there a better time to visit Gatlinburg and the national park? Nope, each season carries its own special flavor depending on your seasonal preference. Right now, ask anyone and it’s fall as they look off at the bright reds, oranges, and yellows. Spring the bright greens and wildflowers, rushing waterfalls, and wildlife emerging from their various winter dens. Black bears and whitetail deer are seen abundance in places like Cades Cove. Meanwhile, Gatlinburg is preparing for the first rush of vacationers arriving in time for the spring season.
The vacationers ramp it up even more during the summer as the flora and fauna are at their peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The mountain temperatures are a bit cooler during the summer in case you didn’t know. Spring and summer are also peak wedding seasons in the Smoky Mountains. There are over 30 wedding chapels in the Gatlinburg area alone and they all book up fast during the spring and summer months.
Right now, fall’s burst of color attracts visitors the world over during the current season. You can search it your heart’s content, but you won’t find anything that compares with the fall season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Now, let’s not sell winter short. Winter is also a great time to visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. If you prefer things a bit quieter and more peaceful, you’ll love this time of year. Mountain vistas are improved because the foliage is off the trees; the air is both crisp and clean, and the smell of woodsmoke carries you back to a time when mountain settlers roamed the hills looking for a permanent homestead.