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There’s one thing a majority of everyone who has visited the Smoky Mountains has experienced: traffic. When you’re excited to explore all the attractions, shops, and restaurants along the parkways, you don’t want to waste any time sitting in traffic! Since the area is so popular, sometimes traffic can be hard to avoid. However, to help you spend less time in traffic and more time enjoying what the area has to offer, we’ve come up with some tips on how to avoid traffic in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
1. Travel Early Morning/Late at Night
One of the best ways to avoid traffic in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is to choose your travel times wisely. The main roads get more congested as the day goes on, so it’s helpful to head out to town early to make it where you want to go without too much traffic. Leaving early in the morning and staying out later into the evening keeps you from sitting in lines of cars along the Parkway.
2. Walk to Attractions
It’s also helpful to walk to attractions. If you leave early in the morning and park your car in downtown Gatlinburg, you can spend all day walking to and from attractions, restaurants, and shops without having to worry about sitting in traffic. When you don’t spend extra time dealing with traffic, you’ll be able to fit more fun into your day! There are also cabin rentals available that put you within walking distance of downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge so that you can leave the car at the cabin and walk anywhere you want to go.
3. Keep an Eye Out for Special Events
When you’re planning your vacation and hoping to avoid traffic, keep an eye out for special events. Some of the busiest days and times of the year are during the Spring and Fall Rod Runs, parades, and holiday weekends. Pay attention to what Smoky Mountain events are happening and try to plan your vacation around those (unless you want to attend, of course!). It’s almost impossible to avoid heavy traffic in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg when you visit the same time a popular event is happening.
4. Explore Quieter Areas
We know that you can’t wait to experience all the popular attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but there are some things to do off the beaten path that are equally as, if not more, interesting! Spending time exploring quieter areas will make it easy to avoid the heavy traffic in town. Wears Valley is considered a hidden gem in the Smokies and is home to some beautiful scenery. It also offers a secret entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you want to avoid the popular Gatlinburg entrance. You can also visit less common sports in the national park, like Cataract Falls and Elkmont. Other attractions off the beaten path include the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum, Goats on the Roof, and Forbidden Caverns.
5. Visit During the Off Season
One of the more obvious tips for avoiding traffic in the area is to visit during the off season. Summers get busy with families visiting during summer vacation, and thousands come to see the fall foliage at its peak. After the holiday season is over, winter tends to have lighter traffic. You can experience fewer crowds in spring as well until schools close for the summer. Visiting during the off season is a great opportunity to make it down the Parkways without having to constantly hit the brakes, and you can avoid lines and waits at restaurants and attractions!
6. Take the Trolley
To avoid the hassle of sitting in traffic and searching for places to park, take the trolley around town! Both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have trolleys that will take you to all the popular stops in the area for a small fee. Traffic won’t be a concern, and you’ll be able to take in the sights as you ride! You can catch the Pigeon Forge trolley at the main station in Patriot Park, or hop on at one of the many stops throughout town. You can board the Gatlinburg Trolley at more than 100 places in the area. Riding the trolley saves you both time and money!
Now that you know how to avoid traffic in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you’re ready to visit! Start planning your Smoky Mountain vacation by taking a look at all the best things to do in the area.