If you’re planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll undoubtedly end up traveling between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Each locale offers a wholly different travel experience, after all, making them both well worth visiting. But how long will the trip back and forth take? And how should you get there? Get the answers to all your most pressing questions in this guide on how far apart Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg actually are.
How Far Apart are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge?
As a bird flies, the distance between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is about five miles total. The roadways between the cities take you on many twists and turns, however. So, you can expect to travel just over eight miles along the Parkway before arriving at your destination.
Want to take the scenic route for a quick, yet memorable road trip? Take the Upper Middle Creek Road loop instead. The total travel time will extend to about 45 minutes. And there’s no trolley available in that direction. So, you’ll need to drive your own vehicle or pay extra for the roundabout cab trip.
Ways to Travel Between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
When traveling between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you have three main transportation options:
Whether you drive your own car into town or get a rental, you can travel between the cities with ease in a private vehicle. Traffic can prove challenging, however, especially on weekends and during the peak of the tourist season. Parking is plentiful in both locations though.
Taxi companies regularly take their patrons from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg and back again. The most popular companies include Funkmaster V’s Uptown Cabs of Renown, Angels Taxi Service, and Elite Taxi and Courier. Getting a taxi frees you from having to drive around town and pay for parking, but it doesn’t save you from sitting in traffic.
The Fun Time Trolley in Pigeon Forge has been a transportation staple in the region since 1986. They run more than 30 trolleybuses all day long with stops in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. You can park for free at the 186 Old Mill Avenue office, and then hop aboard for a day full of trolley fun. You’re welcome to get off and on at any stop you wish, all of which are marked with signs, shelters, or both.
The total time it takes to get between the cities depends on your transportation type. If you’re traveling in a private car, then you’ll arrive in about 20 minutes tops. A taxi will get you there just as fast, barring the wait times for pick up if you don’t make advanced reservations. Riding the trolley, however, could take up to an hour to get you to where you’re going.
Top Driving Routes Between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
If you do decide to travel by car or taxi, you have two main routes to consider:
Pigeon Forge Parkway to 441
Pigeon Forge Parkway to 411 is the most popular route to Gatlinburg. On the way back, it’s better known as US-321 South to US-411 to the Parkway. Either way, it’s around 8.5 miles in total, as long as you’re landing in the center of each city. Although it’s only a 15-minute drive on an ideal day, traffic can back things up considerably.
Upper Middle Creek Road Loop
The Upper Middle Creek Loop is a long, leisurely route between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Not many people take this route as a result, making it a great way to avoid the traffic while enjoying even more wonderful views. The route is only 17 miles long, which gives you around 45 minutes to soak in the beauty of the tree-lined roadways.
If you want to get the full Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg travel experience, take one route there, and then travel down the other way on the trip back. The round trip will let you see beautiful scenic views all around, especially if you visit when the leaves change color in the fall months.
Travel Times to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
While visiting Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and beyond, at least one trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must. Your starting destination and exactly where you want to land in the park will determine how long the trip takes.
Your main entrance options include:
- Sugarlands: 1420 Fighting Creek Gap Road, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
- Cades Cove: 5686 Cades Cove Loop Road, Townsend, Tennessee 37882
- Oconaluftee: 1194 Newfound Gap Road, Cherokee, North Carolina 28719
- Bryson City: 2 Everett St, Bryson City, North Carolina 28713
The Sugarlands entrance is the fastest and easiest to reach when traveling from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but they’re all worth the trip, depending on what you want to see in the park.
When traveling from Gatlinburg, expect it to take about 10 minutes to reach the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The Cades Cove Visitor Center, on the other hand, is about an hour and fifteen minutes away.
If you’re traveling from Pigeon Forge, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is about 20 minutes away. The Cades Cove entrance will take around 1.5 hours to reach through.
As for the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, you’ll travel about an hour from Pigeon Forge – or 50 minutes from Gatlinburg. The Bryson City entrance is about 1 to 1.5 hours away from both areas, depending on traffic.
No matter what route you want to take – or how you want to get there – the trip from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge is always worth the time. Each city offers many amazing restaurants, shops, and things to do, so you’ll want to check each one out whenever you’re in the area.