If you’re going to take the time to travel afield, you want to pack as many sights and sounds into the journey as possible. Therefore, it behooves you to know exactly how far you’ll have to go to enjoy the best attractions.
When it comes to East Tennessee, Dollywood easily snags a top spot on any list of destinations. Built-in 1961 but rebranded by the world-famous singer in 1986, Dollywood has been expanding ever since its inception. It now features rides, tours, shopping, dining, gorgeous gardens, and more – with a water park to boot!
If you’re going to be anywhere in the vicinity of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia (or even Kentucky and Alabama) and want to explore the best adventures while there, Dollywood is worth a look-see. Today, we’ll help you plan to get there with driving times and distances from the most notable nearby cities.
Do note that times always vary due to traffic, so it’s worth double-checking the trip time before you set out. We’ve listed travel times for a number of Tennessee cities and surrounding states to help you get started with planning.
With that, it’s time to grab your favorite map app, have a seat, and plan your visit!
Pigeon Forge, TN
As Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, you won’t face much “driving time” when you’re staying in this quaint mountain town. However, despite being about 3 miles down the road from anywhere in town, you should still plan for a bit of a wait when parking. Make sure to give yourself a cushion when leaving.
The next-closest city to Dollywood is Sevierville which is about 6 miles away from Dollywood. On a good day that would only be 12 minutes driving. The same caveat applies, though: parking can take a long time during peak hours, so plan strategically.
Dollywood is about 10 miles away from Gatlinburg. On average you can make it to Dollywood in 20 minutes from Gatlinburg. You’ll take US-321 through Mccookville and past Pigeon Forge, enjoying lovely views of the Great Smoky Mountains along the way.
The fifth-biggest city in Tennessee by size and third-biggest by population, Knoxville is a popular destination for people traveling through the Volunteer State. It’s about 35 miles from Dollywood, a distance you can easily travel in 45 minutes when traffic is good. You’ll spend the majority of your time on I-40, then take TN-66 the rest of the way.
If you turn back toward Knoxville and keep on traveling down I-40 in the opposite direction from the park (west), you’ll eventually get to Nashville. From Dollywood, it will take about 3 and a half hours – a distance of 214 miles. Remember that the longer your route, the greater the chance you will be delayed, so plan accordingly and check traffic in both directions.
Chattanooga is located about 2 and a half hours away from Dollywood by car. A total of 146 miles, most of the journey is on I-70, dipping onto I-40 toward the end as you pass through Knoxville and on into the park. While some may consider this a drivable distance, it’s understandable if you prefer to stay somewhere closer to Dollywood, or find an adventure park that is closer to you!
If you take I-40 East instead of West, you’ll eventually end up in Asheville, North Carolina. This sweet, artsy mountain town is beloved by locals and travelers alike, and it’s a great home base if you want to check out Dollywood and Pigeon Forge, as well as other parts of Eastern Tennessee. Plan to spend about an hour and 50 minutes in the car, covering about 94 miles.
Continue on I-40 East for an additional two hours and you’ll hit Charlotte. At almost 4 hours and 221 miles away, this is probably too far for most people with kiddos. However, if you enjoy a good road trip on top of theme park fun, Dollywood can still make a good day trip.
Same story here, unfortunately. Atlanta is 205 miles away, which represents more than 4 hours of driving time when there’s no traffic, road closures, accidents, or weather. Although winter weather is uncommon in Atlanta, it does become a factor in the Smokies, so pay attention to reports before driving up into the mountains. If your trip to the Eastern Seaboard allows for it, it’s probably better to stay somewhere closer to the park.
Now that you know a bit more about what it will take to get to Dollywood, let’s discuss how to leverage your trip to the fullest once there.
Insider Tips for Making the Most of Dollywood
Again, remember that these times can always vary due to traffic. The smart approach is to assume that the trip will take longer than your map app says it will because then you’ll have time to deal with a traffic accident or fallen branch and still make it to your destination on time.
When visiting Dollywood, it’s a good idea to:
- Reserve your tickets well ahead of time
- Google the least busy times for the park (usually while school is in session) and go then
- Show up an hour or so early if you’re traveling from far away and spend the extra time stretching your legs or grabbing a bite
- Plan where you will eat in the park ahead of time, as you can’t bring food in – no blood sugar crashes, please!
- Make a note of where your car is parked before heading into Dollywood
- Check driving times home as well as to the park – getting stuck in rush hour isn’t any more fun as a tourist than it is as a commuter!
- Download the Dollywood app to access up-to-the-minute information on ride wait times, shows, dining locations, and more
And that’s it. Now that you’re an expert on Dollywood destination times, feel free to dive back into trip planning. We’re always here if you have questions!