One of the biggest issues on any trip to Gatlinburg is where to park. Although Gatlinburg is a small town, it must accommodate the needs of thousands of businesses and their employees during the week. To say that parking is at a premium would be putting it lightly. The city has plenty of parking lots and garages but you do have to pay to park. FREE parking can be found along River Road in Gatlinburg, but you have to get there early to get a spot, or just be lucky. There is also the mass transit option. While parking remains an issue in Gatlinburg, the city has provided several options.
Parking lots in Gatlinburg can be found quite easily. There are some lots that are run by the businesses next to them or run as businesses themselves, and some that are owned by the city. The city-owned lots are larger and the prices are the same from lot to lot. There are also two parking garages in Gatlinburg, one beside Ripley’s Aquarium and one located at traffic light No. 3. These two garages provide a lot more parking space compared to how much space they actually take up. On River Road there are several privately owned parking lots. Unlike the public lots, which are based on one flat rate, the privately owned lots sometimes have deals depending on how long you are in the lot. If you are just staying for a little while or visiting just one location you may want to check the private lots out.
River Road is the land of free parking. From the traffic light beside Ripley’s Aquarium you can turn down River Road. The parking is along the right hand side and runs almost all the way down the road with very few exceptions. To get parking along River Road you need to get there early or be lucky. Most locals that work in Gatlinburg and arrive early, park on River Road. If you are headed to Gatlinburg for breakfast it might be worth a trip down River Road to see if there is a space open. If you come in late there is still a chance as people come and go all day long in Gatlinburg.
Another option is mass transit. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge both have an amazing trolley system. When you are headed into Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge, you will pass the Gatlinburg welcome center. Next to the Welcome Center, you will find one of the free parking lots that is a stop for the trolleys. Park your car at the trolley station and then ride the trolley for $0.50 per person per ride, or $2 for an all day pass. All the trolleys stop at the Aquarium and there are trolley stops throughout Gatlinburg. Free parking and a 50-cent ride on a trolley is a great deal.
When you are heading to Gatlinburg keep your parking options in mind. Find a lot to park in, take your chances of finding a free space on River Road or simply park and ride the trolley. The city has given you several options and you will find the best part about Gatlinburg is that it is small enough to walk end to end easily; and being able to wander the streets is part of the magic.