Where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC

  • Post last modified:May 14, 2022
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The Great Smoky Mountains are nestled on the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Its green forests, gurgling rivers and exciting wildlife are all great reasons to visit. But where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the best experience?

Gatlinburg is the best place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the whole package. Other options for where to stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park are Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley, Townsend and Cherokee.

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Find places to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gatlinburg, TN – The best place to stay in Smoky Mountains for park access and attractions

Gatlinburg is a very convenient option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Tennessee town, also known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, is beautifully located just outside the spectacular park.

If you stay in Downtown Gatlinburg, you only have 3 miles (5 km) from your Great Smoky Mountains accommodation to Sugarlands Visitor Center in the park. The Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Gatlinburg sit so near the park border that you easily can go between your lodging and the Smokies.

But Gatlinburg does not only cater to the active nature-lovers who plan to sepnd the majority of the time inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You must be impressed by how vibrant the small city is, and how many attractions there are to explore if you have a day or two off the park.

Ripley’s Aquarium, Gatlinburg Space Needle and Hollywood Star Cars are three popular Great Smoky Mountains attractions in Gatlinburg for rainy days. And of course you have a good selection of restaurants to choose from when you stay in the Tennessee town too. So Gatlinburg is an option for where to stay in Great Smoky Mountains that really delivers the whole package.

Gatlinburg is also a great choice for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you like the idea of a small-town feel. Nestled in the middle of the surrounding Tennessee mountains most of the city’s things to do can rather easily be reached by foot from the hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg.

To sum up, Gatlinburg is the best place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains if you want both the ultimate park access and entertainment. In the gateway town you find hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and all the side attractions that the city offers is a great complement to the amazing nature in the park.

  • Pick Gatlinburg for: The best place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains for the whole package.

Favorite location. It’s easy to see why Gatlinburg often is referred to as the ultimate option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The combination of superb park access and fun things to do off the park is hard not to like.

Margaritaville Resort – A luxury Great Smoky Mountains place to stay

It has never been easier to combine luxury and nature than at the Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg. Just steps from Gatlinburg attractions and a short drive from the park the resort provides luxury Great Smoky Mountains lodging.

Margaritaville’s location in Gatlinburg so near the park together with its pleasant amenities makes it one of the very best places to stay in Great Smoky Mountains. And the pools and hot tub at the Great Smoky Mountains resort are very appreciated after a long day exploring the dense park.

Marshall’s Creek Motel – Stay at a rustic Great Smoky Mountains motel

If you don’t need anything fancy, Marshall’s Creek Motel lets you explore the area without breaking the bank. It’s a more simple yet appealing Great Smoky Mountains place to stay.

In the heart of Gatlinburg the rustic Marshall’s Creek Motel keeps you close to all the town’s attractions and restaurants. Location wise you can’t beet the highly rated place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Quaint city centre in the evening
Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Pigeon Forge, TN – Great Smoky Mountains lodging and fun attractions slightly further away

Pigeon Forge is another popular option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the town is located 8 miles (13 km) north of Downtown Gatlinburg, you’re slightly further away from the park if you pick Pigeon Forge.

Another key difference between the two towns is that Pigeon Forge is less compact than Gatlinburg. That makes Pigeon Forge less walkable than its southern neighbor.

But Pigeon Forge certainly offers appreciated Great Smoky Mountains lodging and things to do off the park. The town has become a family favorite with attractions such as the the theme park Dollywood and the Titanic Museum.

Pigeon Forge also provides the places to eat and stores to browse that you need to have the best Great Smoky Mountains vacation. In Pigeon Forge you stay at Great Smoky Mountains hotels near the wilderness, but still have access to all the comfort you crave for.

In conclusion, Pigeon Forge is a great choice for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The town offers good access to the Smokies and celebrated attractions for the days that you don’t spend in the park.

  • Pick Pigeon Forge for: Popular Great Smoky Mountains attractions.

Recommended Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Pigeon Forge

Marriott Pigeon Forge – Top Great Smoky Mountains lodging

If you pick Pigeon Forge, it doesn’t get more comfortable than the town’s Marriott. It’s a place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park that offers maximum convenience.

Its location near the main strip in Pigeon Forge makes it easy to get around. With superb facilities including pool and hot tub it’s also one of the best places to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains for quality time off the park

Great wheel in Tennessee during red sunset
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, Pigeon Forge.

Sevierville, TN – Great Smoky Mountains hotels on a budget

Sevierville is nestled in beautiful lush surroundings with fairytale-like rolling hills. But for access to the Great Smoky Mountains it’s less attractive to stay in Sevierville than in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.

The distance to get from Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Sevierville to Sugarlands Visitor Center in the park is 17 miles (27 km). And the road goes through both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, which means slow and heavy traffic.

Neither Sevierville can match Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge when it comes to things to do. But from Sevierville you have great access to all the attractions in Pigeon Forge, including Dollywood.

Further from the park also means that you often find cheaper Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Sevierville than in the towns closer to the park. Therefore Sevierville is an option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains on a budget.

To sum up, Sevierville offers less good access to the Smokies than Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. However, Sevierville is a great option for where to stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains if you don’t mind the extra miles and look for budget-friendliness.

  • Pick Sevierville for: Great Smoky Mountains hotels on a budget.

Budget location. Sevierville is a great alternative for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a budget. The location is further from the park but the lodging rates are also significantly cheaper.

Green and yellow mountains
Sevierville, TN.

Wears Valley, TN – A peaceful Great Smoky Mountain stay with great access

Another option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Wears Valley. The peaceful community is located 11 miles (18 km) and 20 minutes southwest of Pigeon Forge.

From Wears Valley you don’t need to go through Gatlinburg to access the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s just a few miles from Great Smoky Mountains lodging in Wears Valley to the grand national park.

The part of the Smokies that Wears Valley sits in is often referred to as the quiet or peaceful region. In the area you don’t find any loud attractions. Instead you can focus more on the natural beauty that the area offers.

A big plus with a position further west also is that you are nearer one of the biggest highlights in the region. Cades Cove with its scenic valley, interesting history and amazing wildlife is a must on any Great Smoky Mountains itinerary. As it’s just 15 miles (24 km) from Wears Valley to Cades Cove, only Townsend offers better access to the renowned cove.

In short, Wears Valley is a great option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you want a quiet time. In Wears Valley you find lodging near Great Smoky Mountains in a very peaceful setting.

  • Pick Wears Valley for: Peaceful Great Smoky Mountains lodging.
Valley with wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains NP
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN.

Townsend, TN – Great Smoky Mountains hotels further west at Cades Cove

Townsend is another alternative for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains in the so called peaceful region. The town, located even further west than Wears Valley, offers Great Smoky Mountains National Park lodging in the first row.

With a location further west you at Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Townsend are closer to Cades Cove but further from the action in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. From Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Townsend it’s only 11 miles (18 km) to Cades Cove.

And the driving distance from Townsend to the park border is just a few miles. So the Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Townsend certainly give you effortless access to the national park.

To sum up, Townsend is a great choice for Great Smoky Mountains National Park lodging if you want to stay close to park and look for a quiet time. In Townsend you find Great Smoky Mountains lodging in a very peaceful environment. As a bonus Townsend also offers the very best access to Cades Cove.

  • Pick Townsend for: A Great Smoky Mountains stay at Cades Cove.

Favorite location. From Great Smoky Mountains hotels and cabins in Townsend it’s just minutes to the park, and its most famous valley. For western park access the quiet town is the best place to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Recommended Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Townsend

Highland Manor Inn – Idyllic Smokies lodging

Wonderful mountain views, peacefulness and Cades Cove more or less just down the road. Highland Manor Inn really embraces what you love about the Great Smoky Mountains.

In such an idyllic setting it’s certainly easy to see why guests return year after year. Highland Manor Inn is one of the most popular Great Smoky Mountains hotels in the so called peaceful region.

Dancing Bear Lodge – Superb Great Smoky Mountains cabins

Dancing Bear Lodge offers superb Great Smoky Mountains cabins. The cabins that are rustic but well equipped have all the amenities you could ask for, and a little more.

At Dancing Bear Lodge it really feels like you step into the Smokies. It’s the perfect place to stay in the Smokies if you look for comfortable Great Smoky Mountains cabins with easy access to Cades Cove.

Small log cabin at edge of green valley
Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains NP.

Cherokee, NC – A North Carolina town near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

To stay on the Tennessee side is much more popular for exploring the Smokies than the North Carolina end. Accordingly all the options for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains so far, including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley and Townsend, are located on the Tennessee side.

But a good option for where to stay when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains from the North Carolina end is Cherokee. From Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Cherokee it’s only a few miles to the southern part of the national park.

On top of the great park access you in Cherokee also find the Oconaluftee Indian Village. The impressive indian village recreates life of an 18th century Cherokee village and makes it fun to learn more about the Cherokee culture.

From Cherokee you in addition can enter Americas favorite drive, the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway. A popular day trip is to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Cherokee up to Asheville and visit the famous Biltmore Estate.

All in all, the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains is not as busy as the northern end. Still Cherokee is a great option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains in the south. From hotels near Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee you only have a few miles to the park border.

  • Pick Cherokee for: Access to the southern side of the Smokies.
Road into the forest during fall
Fall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Search for hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC

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Where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park FAQ

Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina.

Where should I stay when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the most popular options for where to stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The towns are located near the park and also offer a lot of activities for days off the park. Other towns with great park access are Sevierville, Wears Valley, Townsend and Cherokee.

Is it better to stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Gatlinburg is located closer to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So if you want to stay as close to the park as possible Gatlinburg is the better choice. But Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are not far from each other, and both cities offer fun attractions for time not spent in the park.

Is it cheaper to stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?

In general the closer to Great Smoky Mountains National Park you stay the higher the hotel rates get. As a result the hotels in Pigeon Forge tend to be cheaper than in Gatlinburg. Further from the park Sevierville is another option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a budget.

What city is closest to Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Because the Great Smoky Mountains covers a large area, various cities are close to different parts of the park. Gatlinburg, Wears Valley, Townsend and Cherokee all offer direct park access. Also with many attractions off the park Gatlinburg is often called the gateway to the Smokies.

How many days do you need for Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The Great Smoky Mountains is a vast park with a lot to explore. It’s therefore recommended to plan at least 3 full days for the park, and to add more time for any side attractions such as Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

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