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Old 02-06-2024, 04:54 PM   #1
lesmadding
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Austin to the Smokey Mountains

Had good responses for our trip last fall to South Dakota. Now planning a trip to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee this April. Love hearing from seasoned travelers about routes, where to stay and what to see? We do travel with a small dog which limits some venues or site seeing. Maybe would like to see Graceland. We like to the nicer newer RV parks.
 
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Old 02-06-2024, 06:46 PM   #2
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The Blueridge NP ends at The Smokey Mountain NP. I would suggest a trip up the Parkway one of the prettiest roads in the country. We live just over a mountain 12 miles from it and I’m a frequent visitor.
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Old 02-07-2024, 08:31 AM   #3
Bourbon County
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Congratulations on your upcoming trip. I grew up about 60 miles from that area, I've long since moved away but go back at least once every year. Depending on the weather over the next few weeks and what time in April you plan to visit, the Redbuds, dogwoods, and many wild flowers will be in bloom in the park; it should be a really good time to visit.

There is no shortage of RV parks in the area, and depending on what you are most interested in seeing might influence where you want to stay. If you are coming from I-40 eastbound, exit 407 will take you through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg with numerous RV parks in all 3 places. You might be interested in going further east on I-40 into North Carolina where you will find many more parks. As Lynwood mentioned, the Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolutely beautiful drive.

Our favorite park is Pine Mountain RV Park in Pigeon Forge. It appears to be fairly new and has mature trees and landscaping. It's on the small side (a plus for me) with 62 full hook up sites. It's immaculately kept, and pricing is fairly reasonable for the area. There's a brand new Camp Margrativille in Pigeon Forge that I stayed at once during the grand opening; I'm a long time Buffett fan and just had to do it. They've since opened a few more sections. It will be really beautiful in a few years; all of the trees are recently planted and the tallest might be chin high. They are also quite pricey. Both of these parks are near the eastern end of Pigeon Forge and if you're going into the park, there's a bypass around Gatlinburg.

A park in Gatlinburg I've stayed at is Smokey Bear RV Park on hwy 321. It's a little older, also has mature tree canopy and only 46 sites. It's a really beautiful park. There are several parks along this highway, this is the only one I've visited.

Pigeon Forge is filled with outlet malls, Dollywood, numerous midway type rides, go karts, hotels, dinner theaters with many different themes, many restaurants, and a pancake house seemingly on every corner. It's highly commercial. Gatlinburg has numerous small and unique shops and restaurants. One of our favorite restaurants anywhere is The Peddler on River Road in Gatlinburg. There is no shortage of local and chain restaurants, diners, and deli's in Gatlinburg. There's also an arts and crafts loop near Gatlinburg. This is an area with numerous potters, weavers, wood carvers, painters; most of these folks are members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. This guild requires the artisan submit a sample of their work to a jury for admission; it's not just filling out an application and paying dues. They are very good at their craft.

I've never stayed at a park on the Carolina side, but do know there are many. Lynwood would be a better resource for recommendations there.

As far as tips, it seems that the first full week in April is a popular time for school spring breaks and will likely be pretty crowded then. This area gets a lot of weekend traffic year long; I've found if you check in on A Sunday, most of the traffic is going the opposite direction than you. If you choose to stay at a park in Gatlinburg, most tend to be along hwy 321, do NOT plan a route that requires you to pull your rig through downtown Gatlinburg. It's very narrow, many traffic lights, and usually pretty congested.
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Old 02-07-2024, 09:37 AM   #4
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Sorry but I’m not the guy to see about Carolina. We are at mile marker 140 or so. The parkway has some really nice campgrounds but they are all private without the amenities you are looking for but they all have something almost no other campground has a view, a great view.
A lot of people say don’t take the parkway it’s to mountainous. I say take it because of the view and the scenery and stops and the exhibits.
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Old 02-07-2024, 11:08 AM   #5
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I don't know how much of your trip is planned on visiting the national park, and how much you plan to visit local attractions. The parks in Gatlinburg are closer to the park. If you plan on visiting local attractions in Gatlinburg; parking is very scarce especially for a big pick up truck. You will for the most part be limited to using a paid lot and walking around town. The attractions and restaurants in Pigeon Forge seem to have fairly decent parking.

If you choose to stay in Pigeon Forge, as I mentioned before, there is a bypass around Gatlinburg to get to the park. There is also a Gatlinburg trolley system that has a station along the 5 mile or so road between the 2 that offers free parking and a trolley available into Gatlinburg. FYI; The Peddler is one of a very few places in Gatlinburg that has parking.

I'm sure you've done research and seen the numerous hiking trails and drives in the park; it should be really beautiful in April.
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Old 02-07-2024, 12:07 PM   #6
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One of the more popular attractions over the past several years is craft moonshine distilleries. These are approaching pancake houses in number.

One of the things indigenous to this area is "Tennessee Moonshine", they all claim to use Popcorn Sutton's original recipe. Popcorn is a local folk legend and supposedly the most famous moonshiner of all time. I seriously doubt that he left a recipe book and it's one of those things you can neither prove or disprove.

I've visited a few of these distilleries and they are very generous with their samples.
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Old 02-07-2024, 06:06 PM   #7
Raven17
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Hello All we live in Birmingham Al and go to Gatlinburg 3-5 times a year. We love staying at Anchor Down on Douglas lake. 18k acres..All site have either a fire place or pit. Views of lake and mountains. Also the ridge closer in. Nice pull thrus and can get your own hot tubs. Eat at Peddler for salad bar and Pancake pantry for morning star. Visit Cade cove for deer, turkey, bears and more. Cross the park to Cherokee and stop at farm steady for a chance to see elk. Then take the Blue Ridge Pkwy to Pisgua Inn for lunch.. enjoy your trip.
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Old 02-08-2024, 06:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven17 View Post
Hello All we live in Birmingham Al and go to Gatlinburg 3-5 times a year. We love staying at Anchor Down on Douglas lake. 18k acres..All site have either a fire place or pit. Views of lake and mountains. Also the ridge closer in. Nice pull thrus and can get your own hot tubs. Eat at Peddler for salad bar and Pancake pantry for morning star. Visit Cade cove for deer, turkey, bears and more. Cross the park to Cherokee and stop at farm steady for a chance to see elk. Then take the Blue Ridge Pkwy to Pisgua Inn for lunch.. enjoy your trip.

I have stayed at Anchor Down once and don't plan to go back. It is truly a beautiful place with amazing views. They have a large fleet of rental golf carts and apparently all of them were rented out and running laps around the park like the Indy 500. A lot of these were kids that looked to be as young as 8 years old. I had a back in site and all I could see in the mirrors were more golf carts coming; finally a guy parked in the next site stepped out and stopped the carts long enough for me to back in. My visit was in June, it might not be such a big issue weekdays while schools are in session. I was also not a fan of that steep incline you have to park on to go in the office to register.

Yes, the Peddler has an impressive salad bar, it's as long as a Montana and has some items I've never seen on a salad bar anywhere else. Going there just for the salad bar to me would be like going to a strip club just for the music!
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Old 02-09-2024, 05:43 AM   #9
lesmadding
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Well, we’ve done a 180 for our April trip. Going to the Western Rally( our 1st) as Sedona has been on our radar for a while. Will take all your good information on Tennessee trip maybe in fall. Thank you everyone for your input. See you at the Rally.
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Old 02-09-2024, 07:37 AM   #10
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Enjoy your rally in Sedona. If you are seriously thinking about a fall trip to the smokies, start planning now.

October is by far the busiest month in that area. Hotels, RV parks, restaurants all go up considerably for the season. Traditionally, the third week in October is peak time for fall foliage color in the park. Over the past several years, warmer weather has been lasting later in the fall and actually early November tends to be peak season. The week of Thanksgiving also tends to be extremely crowded. There's a rather small window of time in early November that it's not so crowded. You would be hard pressed to find a site anywhere around the area in October if you started to book today.

There are a couple more parks I've been meaning to check out; Honeysuckle Meadows, and Up the Creek. They are both in the Wears Valley area of Pigeon Forge, off the beaten path but easily accessible. Both of these parks are known to have very large sites. Up the Creek has a little different approach and doesn't have a bath house or laundry so it lends to larger RVs, and their rates are reasonable.

If you are planning a fall trip; I would highly recommend making reservations soon. Some of the parks will schedule a year out, others are 6 months.
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Old 02-11-2024, 02:05 PM   #11
Rick444
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There are a bunch of parks in pigeon forge, we have stayed pigeon forge rv resort on wears valley road for the past four years in April. It’s on the pigeon forge trolley route which will take you about anywhere in pigeon forge and connect with Galesburg trolley. The trolley system is inexpensive and a lot better than finding parking spots to accommodate a full size truck. They will drop you at the front gate of Dollywood and save parking fees. This year we came the first of December for 4 months. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 02-11-2024, 02:15 PM   #12
skippydoo
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If you can swing it, stop in and tour Graceland. I never thought I would want to go but sure glad we did.
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Old 02-12-2024, 08:23 PM   #13
miatadoc
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Hi! We live in East Tennessee. I agree that the GSMNP would be a beautiful place to visit. Please know that parking is no longer free in the park. As for parks, check out the Ridge in Sevierville (an easy drive into Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It's a nice, new park. Anchor Down is a beautiful park a little further out, It's worth a visit to their website, although they tend to book well in advance. There are also several parks in the Pigeon Forge area.

You mentioned visiting Graceland. That's about 400 miles from the Smokies in Memphis. I don't have any information regarding campground in that area.
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