Split screen of Gatlinburg vs Pigeon Forge.

Where to Stay in the Smoky Mountains: Gatlinburg vs Pigeon Forge

The two most popular cities to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Located next to each other, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have a lot in common. However, each city has something special about it you’ll want to check out when you stay with us. We talk about each town to help you decide which city you’d rather stay in. Keep reading to find out more about Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Walking The Strip vs. Driving The Parkway

downtown gatlinburgThe major difference between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is their layout. In Gatlinburg, the majority of the city’s most popular attractions, restaurants, and shops are all located in the downtown area. Known as The Strip, the heart of the city is made up of just a few blocks, but it is loaded with things to see and do. Once you find parking along the downtown Strip, you can walk to all of the destinations. If you enjoy exploring a city on foot, you’ll love downtown Gatlinburg.

The best way to get around Pigeon Forge is by car. The most popular section of the city is the Parkway, the main road is lined with dinner theaters, go kart tracks, shopping complexes, restaurants, and more attractions. While you typically need to pay for parking in Gatlinburg, virtually all of the destinations on the Pigeon Forge Parkway have free parking lots. If you like driving from one activity to the next, you will love cruising down the Parkway.

trolley outside of ober gatlinburg signGatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have great trolley systems, which make getting around each city very convenient. For just a few dollars, you can travel around the Gatlinburg Strip or the Pigeon Forge Parkway. We recommend getting an unlimited pass since it would be significantly cheaper in the long run if you choose to use this public transport system to get around. Plus, you can travel from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge or vice versa!

Major Attractions in Both Cities

Another thing to consider when comparing Gatlinburg vs Pigeon Forge is each city’s major attraction. For Gatlinburg, the city’s biggest draw is how close it is to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Millions of people visit the Smokies each year, making it the most popular national park in the United States. Vacationers will find endless outdoor activities in the park, including 800 miles of hiking trails, scenic auto tours, wonderful picnic areas, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and much more. Gatlinburg is located right at the entrance to the national park.

Pigeon Forge’s most famous attraction is Dollywood, the awesome theme park named after Smoky Mountain native Dolly Parton. As the largest ticketed attraction in Tennessee, Dollywood truly has something for everyone. Guests will find thrill rides, music shows, craft demonstrations, mouthwatering food, and much more. During the summer months, vacationers can also enjoy Dollywood’s Splash Country, an incredible water park located next door to Dollywood.

How Far is Pigeon Forge from Gatlinburg TN?

You may be wondering how far is Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge, and the answer is about 15 minutes, depending on traffic. If traffic is heavy during popular months, it could take you longer to get to either city. The distance is about 7.5 miles from one city to the other, depending on where you start at in either city. However, if you want to visit both cities, it’s definitely doable because they are so close. Now you know how far Pigeon Forge is from Gatlinburg TN!

Top Destinations in Gatlinburg vs Pigeon Forge

In addition to the national park and Dollywood, there are so many other fantastic destinations you don’t want to miss, from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge. We have put together a list of some of the top places to visit in each city.


  • Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg TN.Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
  • Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
  • Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
  • Anakeesta


Pigeon Forge

  • Titanic Museum Attraction
  • WonderWorks
  • The Island in Pigeon Forge
  • The Old Mill Square

Find the Perfect Cabin From Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge

majestic waters cabinLocated in the foothills of the mountains, our cabins are the perfect place to stay for your getaway. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins for romantic retreats to 8 bedroom cabins for family reunions, we are guaranteed to have the ideal accommodations for your escape. With fully equipped kitchens, you can save money on eating out. If it rains on your trip, there are game rooms, hot tubs, and other fun things you can do in your cabin. We have cabins in both cities, so you get to decide which city you’d like to visit more. Don’t forget you can easily do both!

Regardless of where you land on the Gatlinburg vs Pigeon Forge debate, you are sure to have an unforgettable vacation in the Smokies.  The two cities are next to each other, so you can easily enjoy all the fun Sevier County has to offer during your vacation. Since you have an idea how far Gatlinburg is to Pigeon Forge and which city you’d like to be in more, you’re ready to start planning you next trip! To start planning your vacation, browse our selection of Gatlinburg cabins and Pigeon Forge cabins.