Where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Post last modified:July 28, 2021
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is nestled on the Tennessee and North Carolina border. The lush Appalachians, 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 a great place to stay in Great Smoky Mountains for both park access and attractions off the park. Other places to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park are Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley, Townsend and Cherokee.

Where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains, TN/NC

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

Gatlinburg, also known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, is a great option for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains. The Tennessee town beautifully sits just outside the spectacular park. If you stay in Downtown Gatlinburg when visiting you only have 3 miles (5 km) from your accommodation to Sugarlands Visitor Center inside the park.

So Gatlinburg is perfect for the outdoor-lover who plans to spend the majority of the time inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Gatlinburg sit so near the park border that you easily can go between your accommodation and the Smokies at no inconvenience.

But Gatlinburg does not only cater to the active nature-lovers. 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 for rainy days. And of course you have a good selection of restaurants to choose from when you stay in Gatlinburg for the Great Smoky Mountains.

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 Gatlinburg hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

To sum up, Gatlinburg is the best place to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains for 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.

  • Stay in Gatlinburg for: Best Great Smoky Mountains access and great attractions.

Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg – A luxurious Great Smoky Mountains place to stay with swimming pool and hot tub

Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg provides luxury just steps away from the Gatlinburg attractions. The pools and hot tub are great after a long day exploring Great Smoky Mountains. Margaritaville’s location in Gatlinburg so near the park and its amenities makes it one of the very best places to stay in Great Smoky Mountains.

Marshall’s Creek Motel – Stay at a rustic and convenient Great Smoky Mountains motel in the heart of town

A more simple yet satisfying place to stay in Gatlinburg is Marshall’s Creek Motel. The rustic Gatlinburg motel sits in the heart of town so that you effortlessly can walk to the city’s restaurants and attractions. At Marshall’s Creek Motel you comfortably stay near the Great Smoky Mountains without breaking the bank.

Quaint city centre in the evening
Downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Pigeon Forge – A Great Smoky Mountain stay near the park and attractions

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

Another difference between the two is that Pigeon Forge is less compact than Gatlinburg. Therefore Pigeon Forge is not as walkable as its neighbor.

But just like Gatlinburg the town of Pigeon Forge offers a great selection of Great Smoky Mountains places to stay and a lot do to apart from just visiting the park. Pigeon Forge has become a family favorite with its great hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and attractions such as the theme park Dollywood and the Titanic Museum.

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

In short, Pigeon Forge is a great choice for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pigeon Forge offers good access to the Smokies and just like Gatlinburg the city has fun attractions for the days that you don’t spend in the park.

  • Stay in Pigeon Forge for: Good Smoky Mountains access and great attractions.

Recommended Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Pigeon Forge

Courtyard by Marriott Pigeon Forge – Great Smoky Mountains accommodation with pool and hot tub near the main strip

If you prefer to stay in Pigeon Forge it doesn’t get more comfortable than Courtyard by Marriott. The location near the main strip in Pigeon Forge is very convenient and of course the Great Smoky Mountains hotel has both pools and hot tub for maximum comfort and fun. Courtyard by Marriott in Pigeon Forge is one of the best places to stay in the Smoky Mountains if you look for a combination of days in nature and quality entertainment in town.

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

Sevierville – Great Smoky Mountains hotels on a budget

Sevierville is nestled in a beautiful lush surrounding with rolling hills. 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 the Great Smoky Mountains places to stay in Sevierville to Sugarlands Visitor Center in the park is 17 miles (27 km). And the road goes through 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.

And further away from the park means that you often find cheaper Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Sevierville than in the towns closer to the park. Therefore Sevierville is a popular Great Smoky Mountains place to stay on a budget.

To sum up, Sevierville has 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.

  • Stay in Sevierville for: Reasonable Great Smoky Mountains access and budget-friendliness.
Green and yellow mountains
Sevierville, TN.

Wears Valley – 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 town is located 11 miles (18 km) southwest of Pigeon Forge.

The location of Wears Valley means that you don’t need to go through Gatlinburg to access the Great Smoky Mountains. Wears Valley has great park access with just a couple of miles from the Great Smoky Mountains lodging in Wears Valley to all the fun in the Smokies.

A big plus with being further west than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is that you are nearer one of the biggest highlights in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove. Cades Cove with its scenic valley, interesting history and amazing wildlife is a must on any Great Smoky Mountains itinerary.

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 the loud attractions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Instead you focus more on experiencing the natural beauty that the area offers. Still it’s only a rather short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains places to stay in Wears Valley to the entertainment in Pigeon Forge.

Wears Valley is the best place to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you look for great park access and a quiet time while still having reasonable driving time to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. In Wears Valley you find hotels near Great Smoky Mountains in a very peaceful setting.

  • Stay in Wears Valley for: Great access to Great Smoky Mountains and peacefulness.
Valley with wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains NP
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN.

Townsend – Great Smoky Mountains hotels further west in the peaceful region

Townsend is an alternative to Wears Valley for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains in the so called peaceful region. The town is located even further west than Wears Valley and in Townsend you also find lodging near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Being situated further west means that you at Great Smoky Mountains hotels in Townsend are closer to Cades Cove but further away from the action in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. That can be both good or bad depending on what you’re after for your Great Smoky Mountains escape.

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. Just like in Wears Valley you in Townsend find Great Smoky Mountains places to stay in a very peaceful environment.

  • Stay in Townsend for: Great access to Great Smoky Mountains and peacefulness.
Small log cabin at edge of green valley
Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains NP.

Cherokee – A North Carolina place to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains

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 Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley and Townsend sit on the Tennessee side.

But a good option for where to stay when visiting and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains from the North Carolina end is to stay in Cherokee. From the Great Smoky Mountains places to stay in Cherokee you only have a few miles to get into the southern part of the national park.

If you make Cherokee your base for where to stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can effortlessly combine your exploration of the Smokies with a visit to Oconaluftee Indian Village. The impressive Oconaluftee Indian Village recreates life of an 18th century Cherokee village and makes it fun to learn more about the Cherokee culture.

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

Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains from the south side is not as popular as from the north. But Cherokee is a great place for where to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you want to explore the southern part of the park and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Cherokee hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park you only have a few miles to cross the park border.

  • Stay in Cherokee for: Great access to the southern side of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Road into the forest during fall
Fall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Search hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains, TN/NC

Use the booking tool below to find the perfect accommodation for your visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all Great Smoky Mountains hotels listed.

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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 great and hugely popular options for where to stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They sit near the park border and offer a lot of activities for days off the park. Sevierville is located further away but is more budget-friendly. Wears Valley and Townsend are super options if you look for great access and peacefulness. Finally, Cherokee is a very good alternative if you want to explore the Great Smoky Mountains from the south.

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

The Great Smoky Mountains is a huge park that needs time to be explored. It’s recommended to plan at least 3 days for the park and to add more time for any side attractions such as Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

Should I stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Gatlinburg is located closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Therefore Gatlinburg is the better choice for where to stay if you want to maximize time in the Smokies. But they are not far from each other and both cities offer fun attractions for time not spent in the park.

What city is closest to the Smoky Mountains?

As the Smoky Mountains is a large area various cities are close to different parts of the park. But Gatlinburg is often called the gateway to the Smokies for its great park access.

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