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With over 10 million annual visitors, it’s no surprise that Pigeon Forge, TN sees its fair share of traffic. Fortunately, the Knoxville News Sentinel is here to help! The newspaper recently released a handy guide to avoiding traffic in Pigeon Forge that caught our eye. To help you make the most of your next vacation, we have shared the News Sentinel’s insider knowledge and thrown in some of our own advice for bypassing traffic in the Smokies.
1. Ride the Trolley
Driving isn’t the only way to get around Pigeon Forge! Our Smoky Mountain city features an excellent trolley system that will take you virtually anywhere you want to go. The Fun Time Trolleys make stops at all of the area’s most popular destinations, including the North Parkway, the South Parkway, Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Wears Valley, and the Gatlinburg Welcome Center.
You can catch the trolley at the Patriot Park station or at one of the numerous stops around Pigeon Forge. Fares are $1 per ride ($2.50 to Dollywood and Dolly’s Splash Country) or you can purchase an All Day Pass for $3 at Patriot Park. For more information, check out our complete guide to the Pigeon Forge Trolleys.
2. Know When Traffic is Heaviest
Traffic in Pigeon Forge varies greatly depending on the time of day and day of the week. Unsurprisingly, the late afternoon and early evenings are when you’ll find the most activity on the Parkway. Of course, traffic is always heavier over the weekend. So, if you’re looking to cruise through downtown Pigeon Forge, try scheduling your vacation fun for weekday mornings.
The time of year can also make a considerable difference when it comes to traffic. During the fall, traffic is variable and can surge when the autumn foliage reaches its peak in late October. The winter months typically have relatively light traffic, although Pigeon Forge is always mobbed during the week of Christmas. Spring traffic isn’t bad, but once school lets out, the summertime rush doesn’t let up until late August. While heavy traffic is a fact of life for some seasons, we think enjoying everything Pigeon Forge has to offer is well worth 10 extra minutes on the road here and there!
3. Watch Out for Special Events
Throughout the year, there are a few events in Pigeon Forge that are known to cause significantly more traffic than usual. Here is a quick look at some of the biggest culprits:
- Shades of the Past Car Show (early September)
- Fall Rod Run (mid-September)
- Week of Thanksgiving
- Week of Christmas
- New Year’s Eve
- Spring Rod Run (April)
- Dolly’s Homecoming Parade (early May)
- Independence Day
If you plan on attending any of these events, be prepared for heavy traffic. To see precise dates for these annual festivities, check out our Pigeon Forge Events Calendar.
4. Take Veterans Boulevard
As anyone who has visited the Smokies can tell you, nearly all of the traffic in Pigeon Forge is concentrated on the Parkway. A great alternative to driving on the Parkway is Veterans Boulevard. This multi-lane road runs parallel to the Parkway but has a fraction of the traffic since it is not lined with attractions and dinner theaters. Veterans Boulevard starts in Sevierville and continues all the way to Dollywood Lane, making it ideal for vacationers planning a trip to the theme park. Other side roads near the Parkway that you may want to explore include Ridge Road and Teaster Lane.
5. Spend Time in Wears Valley
If you’re looking for a vacation destination near the heart of Pigeon Forge with very little traffic, we suggest Wears Valley. Considered a hidden gem in the Smokies, this idyllic mountain community is an excellent choice for anyone in search of a relaxing getaway. In addition to its secluded location, Wears Valley also boasts a “secret entrance” to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and proximity to Cades Cove.
For more helpful vacation planning information, be sure to check out our complete listing of attractions in Pigeon Forge!