Gatlinburg is the last town along the parkway before the national park. It is nestled in between two of the largest mountains on the Tennessee side of the Smokies. Because of this mountain feature, the town foot print is very small and condensed. Parking is at a premium and foot traffic is often the best way to get around. Much of what you have in Pigeon Forge is duplicated in Gatlinburg. Many of the restaurants and attractions are similar. Attractions unique to Gatlinburg would include things like Ripley’s Aquarium that lets you walk through the shark tank. Gatlinburg has it’s own space needles that provides a unique viewing of the area. And there are trams that will take you to the top of the mountains where skiing and sledding is a fun thing to do during winter months.
As you travel further through town or around the by pass you eventually come to the eastern entrance to the national park at Sugarlands. Here the road forks and you can either travel along road by the river that traverse’s through to the west end of the park, to Cades Cove or Townsend, Tn. Or you could choose to go up and over the mountains past Clingmans Dome, the Appalachian trail and on to far side of the park which is on the North Carolina side.
Gatlinburg is popular with visitors and by far the busiest and most congested area in the Smokies. Many tourists prefer to stay in area’s that are less crowded and take day trips to see the sights and attractions, returning home at the end of the day to the peace and relaxing serenity of the mountains!