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Old 04-14-2019, 08:02 AM   #21
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 18
We live in Townsend, about 20 miles from Gatlinburg and 15 miles from Pigeon Forge - "the Peaceful Side of the Smokies". If you want glitz, glamour, sensory overload and TRAFFIC by all means stay in Pigeon Forge. Campgrounds off Wears Valley Road are a little less hectic, and there are several campgrounds in Wears Valley (9 miles from Pigeon Forge) where it is more laid back. Most of the campgrounds around Gatlinburg are east of town on Hwy321, and it's less congested out there. There is shuttle service into town. Townsend has many nice campgrounds, and there is none of the Glitz of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It is 9 miles from Cades Cove, the most visited spot in the Smokies. You have the best chance of seeing Bears in Cades Cove. Townsend is more directed toward folks interested in nature and the history of the area. There is Tuckaleechee Caverns, Little River Railroad Museum, horseback riding and the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center which has a museum and historic village outside with 13 historic buildings you can go through.

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Old 04-14-2019, 08:46 AM   #22
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Petersburg
Posts: 7
Gatlinburg East/Smoky Mountain KOA. Stayed there last summer for a week. Great location, gorgeous sites, mostly a big RV resort. Gated with escort to site and help backing in. Backs up to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Super nice!

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Old 04-14-2019, 09:55 AM   #23
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Location: SE Michigan
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Last sumner, we stayed at the KOA in Pigeon Forge. We had a nice, 'very long' site that would accommodate any size trailer. However, many other sites there are very close to each. We chose this Campground due to it's proximity to Dollywood and many of the attractions in Pigeon Forge. It's not more than 10 minutes to the main strip of attractions and sandwiched in between the Parkway and Teaster Lane. For my 8, 4, and 3 year old, there were more age appropriate things do to there than in Gatlinburg.

If you do happen to stay in Pigeon Forge, use Teaster Lane as much as possible. You'll save yourself the headache from the main Parkway.

Other members are right in that Pigeon Forge has all the attractions and craziness of any tourist town. Gatlinburg is still busy but most just park and walk the strip. It's about a 15 minute drive from the KOA to Gatlinburg.

You'll have fun no matter which resort you stay at. Lots to do in both cities. Lastly, everyone going has to take a ride on one of alpine coasters. Fun fun fun. They have 2 for 1 deals where you can come back at night and do the second ride when it's dark.
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Old 04-14-2019, 12:05 PM   #24
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Chattanooga
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Anchor Down is a great place and worth every penny (lots of them) if you're just staying there and not venturing out. Otherwise, I'd suggest something in Pigeon Forge which is a little less pricey. Just because you're Camping in Pigeon Forge, doesn't of course, mean you're gong to be there 24/7. Gatlinburg is only a 15 minute drive through the park; all the attractions, whether they are natural or glitzy, are within 15-30 minutes as well.
I know this sounds way old school, but maybe contact the tourist center or Chamber of Commerce for both Galtinburg and Pigeon Forge and have them mail you their info. I've been going there for over 35 years and still have only touched the tip of the iceburg. It makes more sense sometimes if you have a book in your hand (With lots of discount coupons) to try and make some sense of everything.
No matter what you decide thee are a few things to remember: 1) it will be fairly cool (not by Michigan standards but by TN standards) at that time of the year. It could be 50/70 but will more likely be 40/60 so be sure to check the 10 day forecast before you leave. It's up in the mountains so it's always cooler there than even Knoxville, just an hour away. Also, that is the same time as the local Spring breaks, so try and make your camping decision as soon as you can. The area is always full of locals, especially on the weekends.
You'll have a wonderful time, no matter what you decide. You could stay there for a whole year and never see/do everything.
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Old 04-15-2019, 01:26 PM   #25
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Hoover
Posts: 1
Gatlinburg alternative

We stayed "on the quiet side of the Smokies" in October at the Big Meadow Family Campground in Townsend. Bath house was a bit small but very clean. Campground is not large, so it was never an issue with access. Campground has full hookup sites and can accommodate large motorcoaches--all sites are fairly close together, but well-maintained. Campground is family run and staff were all very nice. They have a fenced dog park and are located right across a small street from a river where my son caught several nice-sized rainbow trout. Very convenient to Cades Cove area and not too far to drive into Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg or other parts of the national park.

We prefer to stay away from the craziness of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and just venture into those areas to visit whatever attraction. Last Fall we found the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Pigeon Forge-- it was great and they have a number of related shops you can visit while waiting for your table.

As others have said, this area books up very early for spring break, summer and leaf peeping in October, so make your reservations early.

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