A family-friendly hub near riverside campsites, RV parks, and eclectic glamping.
Pigeon Forge celebrates its Appalachian roots with a whole lot of bling. Home to Dollywood, the Titanic Museum, the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, putt-putt courses, and a slew of wild mountain coasters, it’s a frenetic basecamp in the shadows of the Great Smokies. Kids go crazy for the place. Pigeon Forge owes its popularity to country music icon Dolly Parton, who grew up in the nearby mountains. Campgrounds and RV parks are tucked nearby in the forested mountain foothills and along burbling creeks. Camping cabins come in a nearly endless supply. Yurts, canvas tents, airstreams, and other glamping options also abound just outside town.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Four of the nine developed campgrounds in the park are in Tennessee. Elkmont is the largest, with 220 sites. Open year-round, Cades Cove Campground borders wild meadows where turkey and bear strut their stuff. For more solitude, try Abrams Creek on the western fringes of the park. Cosby has 157 sites but still feels uncrowded.
Pigeon & Little Pigeon Rivers
Pigeon Forge is an ode to excess, but tranquility is easy to find thanks to the Little Pigeon River, which flows through the sprawl. Campgrounds with tent sites and RV sites hug its scenic banks. To escape the city scene completely, head east to campsites along the Pigeon River, which twists through the foothills of the Smokies. It's popular for inner tubing and rafting.
Wears Valley Road/Hwy 321 & Townsend
RV parks and campgrounds along Wears Valley Road between Pigeon Forge and Townsend feel remote, but the drive back to Pigeon Forge is fairly quick and convenient. Townsend campsites are close to the Little River and a short drive from the Cades Cove Loop Road.
Fans of wildflowers should pitch camp during the Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late April. The city’s parade and festival season kicks off in spring too. Summer is the high season. Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country keep their longest hours from late June through early August. Family friendly attractions across town are also busy. The fall foliage season draws crowds of leaf peepers, especially on weekends. Pigeon Forge decompresses in winter, but the Winterfest light festival keeps the vibe festive.