Hello from the Smoky Mountains, your gateway to the gorgeous Smoky Mountains National Park! It is no surprise that this area has UNESCO World Heritage Site status with its amazing landscapes and hiking trails overlooking the scenic mountains and rivers. I assure you that this trip will be one of the best outdoor adventures you’ve ever had!
The Smoky Mountains National Park has two entrances, one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee. Unfortunately, there is only one lodge option inside the national park (which I will talk about towards the end of this post). If you are adventurous you can stay in the campgrounds inside the park however most people choose to stay in the towns nearby as they have more options and amenities.
In this blog post on where to stay in Smoky Mountains, all of the towns I will talk about are located on the Tennessee side as it is a more popular and convenient place to discover the best attractions in The Smoky Mountains National Park.
Sometimes it can be confusing to decide the best area to stay near the national parks but that’s why I am here to help! I have found the best hotels for you to have easy access to hiking trails as well as great town centers that offer fun attractions.
I have to remind you that Smoky Mountains National Park is a very popular destination and the hotels in the Smoky Mountains tend to fill up quickly, so, once you find your ideal place you have to make a reservation right away!
Now tie up your shoelaces and let’s get started!
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Gatlinburg – where to stay in Smoky Mountains for the first time
- 2. Pigeon Forge – best town in the Smoky Mountains for families
- 3. Wears Valley – the best town for relaxation
- 4. Sevierville – where to stay for those on a budget
- BONUS 1: Where to stay inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- BONUS 2: Unique places to stay near the National Park
- Frequently asked questions about the Smoky Mountains
If you are in a hurry
Here are the best places to stay in the Smoky Mountains from luxury to budget. They all have great reviews and excellent locations near the Smoky Mountains National Park:
Best luxury hotel
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
Old Creek Lodge
Best value for money
Baskin’s Creek Condos
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Here is a map of the 4 best areas to stay in the Smoky Mountains I will be talking about in this blog post so you can easily understand them:
on a budget
1. Gatlinburg – where to stay in Smoky Mountains for the first time
Gatlinburg is the closest town to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as you will be just 2 miles (3 km) away from the entrance of the national park. That’s why as you can imagine it is the most popular area to stay in the Smoky Mountains and you need to make your hotel reservation in advance if you want to stay in this lovely town!
Of course, your main aim is to go on outdoor adventures in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park exploring the stunning landscapes and hiking on scenic trails. However, I have to tell you that Gatlinburg has all the fun attractions from amusement parks to interesting museums and restaurants with dinner shows. Also, you should definitely check out the amazing town view from the Gatlinburg Space Needle. Doesn’t it sound like a fun town?
I have already picked the top 4 accommodation options for all budgets to stay in Gatlinburg, but if you want even more options check out our post on where to stay in Gatlinburg.
Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
Margaritaville Resort is a very short drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a short walk to popular attractions and restaurants. This beautiful hotel offers 3 swimming pools, spacious rooms, an onsite restaurant and bar, and free Wi-Fi. I love the fire pit in the garden area where you can chill and watch spectacular views. You can also pamper yourself with a good massage in the hotel’s upscale spa, simply perfect!
Other accommodation options in Gatlinburg
Centrally located in Gatlinburg this hotel offers a swimming pool, spacious rooms and is a short drive to Great Smoky Mountain National Park
This hotel has a fitness center, a swimming pool, spacious rooms with a private terrace overlooking rolling hills, a hot tub, and free Wi-Fi
Centrally located in Gatlinburg this Airbnb has a fully furnished kitchen with a dining area, a master bedroom, and a private terrace with a nice view
Things to do in Gatlinburg
- Go to the Gatlinburg Space Needle to see the panoramic views
- Discover the underwater world at Ripley’s Aquarium
- Visit the Hollywood Star Cars Museum
- Have a drink with live music at Ole Smoky Moonshine
- Take a ride at Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster
- Visit the Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum
- Take a day trip to Cades Cove
- Have a delicious meal at Alamo Steakhouse
2. Pigeon Forge – best town in the Smoky Mountains for families
Pigeon Forge is located 10 miles (15 km) north of Gatlinburg and is the second most popular town for visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thanks to its great accommodation options, fun attractions, and nice restaurants it is also the best place to stay in the Smoky Mountains for families.
Once you step into Pigeon Forge you will feel the town itself is like a big theme park. You will find so many dining shows, roller coasters, colorful wheels, and even the Titanic Museum Attraction. Can you think of any better place for a family vacation?
I am sure you won’t recognize how time has passed in Pigeon Forge as you will have a lot to discover. So it is time to find the best family-friendly hotels in Pigeon Forge. Don’t worry I found the best ones for all budgets but you have to be quick to not miss them!
Again, if you want to get deeper into all the areas to stay in and all the great accommodation options in Pigeon Forge, please click here to see our post on it. But now, let’s have a look at the best accommodation options in Pigeon Forge:
The Ramsey Hotel is one of the best hotels to stay in Pigeon Forge and is just a 15-minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a heated indoor swimming pool, a well-equipped fitness center, a hot tub, free parking, and spacious rooms with modern amenities. Guests staying in the hotel can enjoy a very good breakfast and family movie nights by the fire pit patio with free popcorn.
Other accommodation options in Pigeon Forge
Centrally located in Pigeon Forge this modern hotel offers continental breakfast, a fitness center, an indoor swimming pool, and free parking
Clarion Inn features a swimming pool with a waterslide, family rooms, a fitness center, very good breakfast, and free Wi-Fi
This Airbnb has a great location in Pigeon Forge and is within walking distance to the hiking trails with beautifully decorated rooms and a mountain vibe
Things to do in Pigeon Forge
- Visit the impressive Titanic Museum
- Attend a dinner show at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede
- Ride water slides at Dollywood’s Splash Country
- Have a family dinner at The Old Mill Restaurant
- Visit the Alcatraz East Crime Museum
- Have fun at the theme park, The Island in Pigeon Forge
- Go for dinner at Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
- Try fun attractions at the amusement park, WonderWorks Pigeon Forge
3. Wears Valley – the best town for relaxation
Located 16 miles (20 km) west of Gatlinburg, Wears Valley is off the beaten path town that is perfect for those who want to have a relaxing holiday in the Smoky Mountains. You can expect to have a peaceful atmosphere, enjoy beautiful parks, and go on hiking. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
Wear Valley offers so many nice hiking trails where you can have a picnic with a beautiful view and also you can go on waterfall hunts and fly with ziplines in the forests. Other than great outdoor activities you will be able to find very good local restaurants as well as local distilleries. So when I said this town is good for relaxing I didn’t mean it is boring!
Let’s check out the best places to stay in Wears Valley:
Centrally located in Wears Valley, His Promises Cabin offers an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, kid playground, spacious rooms, and free parking. You can use BBQ facilities and enjoy your meal in the amazing nature. If you are visiting during the winter you can rent ski equipment at extra cost and also arrange hiking and cycling tours. All the chalet-style hotel rooms have a private terrace, a fully furnished kitchen, and a fireplace.
Other accommodation options in Wears Valley
Mountain Breeze cabin has spacious rooms, a hot tub, a fire pit, a kitchen with modern amenities, and free Wi-Fi
This Treehouse has an amazing garden inside a forest, spacious rooms, a pool table, fireplace, and a fully furnished kitchen
Things to do in Wears Valley
- Visit the Headrick Chapel
- Go for a walk to the natural beauty Friendly Falls
- Hike and have a picnic at Metcalf Bottoms Park
- Try local drinks at Wears Valley’s Moonshine Distillery
- Have fun and enjoy nature with Wears Valley Zip Lines
- Visit the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
- Have a delicious lunch at Elvira’s Cafe
- Go hiking at Little Greenbrier Trail
4. Sevierville – where to stay for those on a budget
If you want to save money on accommodation, Sevierville is the best place to stay in the Smoky Mountains thanks to its great selection of budget hotels and affordable restaurants. Sevierville is located 15 miles (20 km) north of Gatlinburg and is still not far from local attractions and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Sevierville has a small-town feel which allows you to be away from the crowds and also offers nice local restaurants, outlet shopping centers, and fun attractions. You will still be enjoying the beautiful mountain views, scenic Pigeon River, and easy access to hiking trails.
Here are the best budget-friendly hotels in Sevierville that I carefully picked for you:
This lodge offers amazing views by the river and has amazing facilities such as 2 swimming pools, a mini-golf course, spacious rooms, and free Wi-Fi. All of the hotel rooms can accommodate up to 6 people and has a fully equipped private kitchen, a large bedroom, and a terrace with an amazing view. Sevierville town center is a short drive and you can easily access Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 20 minutes by car.
Other accommodation options in Sevierville
This hotel offers 2 swimming pools, modern rooms, continental breakfast, free parking, and a hot tub near the great smoky mountain national park
This hotel features comfortable rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a sun terrace, a good breakfast, and free Wi-Fi
This Airbnb has a hot tub, a large terrace with a beautiful view, a fireplace, spacious rooms, and a fully furnished kitchen
Things to do in Sevierville
- Go shopping at Five Oaks Tanger Outlet Mall
- Have mouthwatering food at Conor’s Steak & Seafood
- Visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation
- Take a golf lesson at Sevierville Golf Club
- Go to the historic Harrisburg Covered Bridge
- Visit the RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo
- Have fun at Soaky Mountain Waterpark
- Go for a walk at Sevierville City Park
|👑 Luxury price:||$500|
|💵 Mid Range:||$250|
|💰 Accommodation prices:||High|
|📍 Best area:||Gatlinburg|
|👪 Best area for families:||Pigeon Forge|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg|
|🧳 Best mid-range hotel:||Wyndham Pigeon Forge|
|👛 Best budget hotel:||Baskin’s Creek Condos|
BONUS 1: Where to stay inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
For adventurous readers who want to make the most of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by staying inside the park itself, this bonus section is for you! There is just one lodging option inside the national park (Le Conte Lodge) but you will also be able to find several campgrounds.
Let’s check out your options:
Le Conte Lodge – This lodge is perfect for hiking lovers as it is located in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is only accessible by foot. You will find the lodge at an elevation of 6,593 feet at the top of Mount Le Conte, the third-highest peak in the park. There are multiple hiking routes to reach the lodge from 5 to 8 miles in length but it is certainly worth it! There is an onsite restaurant and all of the rooms have a private terrace. Le Conte Lodge is open from mid-March through mid-November but you must make a reservation in advance.
Elkmont Campground – This is the biggest and busiest campground in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and it is located just 8 miles (12 km) from Gatlinburg making it the closest to groceries and city attractions. You can bring your own tent or rent one there, plus RV sites are also available (sites from $25-$27 per night). It has easy access to the hiking trails and picnic sites and the parking area is just a short walk from the plots. Reservation is required and the campground is open from mid-April to late November.
Cades Cove Campground – This campground is located on the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is 30 miles (40 km) away from Gatlinburg. There are tents and RV sites available and you can enjoy picnic areas and hammocks ($25 per night). This campground is also famous for activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and biking. It is open all year round but makes sure to make a reservation in advance.
Abrams Creek Campground – This campground is located 30 miles (40 km) west of Codes Cove campground in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and offers a more chilled vibe which is perfect for those who want to avoid crowds. Only tents are allowed in the campground here and it only opens between late April to mid-October ($17.50 per night). Do not forget to make your reservation months in advance for this one!
BONUS 2: Unique places to stay near the National Park
I have already talked about the best towns that have easy access to the national park but for those who are looking for some more unique options close to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, here are my top picks in descending price order.
Ski View Mountain Resort – This beautiful mountain resort is just 4 miles (6 km) away from Great Smoky Mountain National Park and offers one of the best mountain views with a rustic cabin vibe. You will love the spacious rooms with luxurious amenities and a private terrace overlooking the mountains. You can enjoy the heated indoor swimming pool and the hot tub while watching the spectacular views or have a BBQ in the nice garden area.
Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains – This hotel is a 15-minute drive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers a unique glamping experience. Imagine waking up in a beautiful park, watching the mountains, and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. There is an on-site restaurant, a good breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and free parking.
Gatlinburg Mountain Condo – For those who want to have panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains all to yourself, you will adore this condo cabin. Gatlinburg Mountain Condo offers an outdoor swimming pool with scenic mountain views, a gaming room, BBQ facilities, and free Wi-Fi. With space for up to 9 people, it’s the perfect cozy family retreat. All of the rooms have comfortable beds, a private terrace overlooking the mountains, a flat-screen TV, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just 5 miles (7 km) away.
Frequently asked questions about the Smoky Mountains
🌲 Where should I stay when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
Gatlinburg is the perfect getaway town for visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park thanks to its closeness to the park entrance and popular attractions. Some of the best hotels to stay here are Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg and Old Creek Lodge.
🤔 Is it better to stay in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are both popular gateway towns for visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park but if you want to be close to the park entrance Gatlinburg is better. Pigeon Forge is a great place to stay for families thanks to its fun attractions.
🏞️ Can you stay inside the Great Smoky Mountains national park?
Yes, there is one lodge (Leconte Lodge) and some campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The campgrounds are called Elkmont Campground, Cades Cove Campground, and Abrams Creek Campground.
⏱️ How many days do you need in the Smoky Mountains?
I recommend staying at least 3 nights in the Great Smoky Mountains to discover hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all the attractions in the town. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the most popular towns to stay in the Smoky Mountains.
🛎️ What are the best hotels near Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg and Ski View Mountain Resort are some of the best hotels near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
📷 What should I not miss in the Smoky Mountains?
Here are the top attractions you should not miss in the great Smoky Mountains.
● Great Smoky Mountains National Park
● The Gatlinburg Space Needle
● The Titanic Museum
● Ripley’s Aquarium
● The Hollywood Star Cars Museum
● Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
● The Tennessee Museum of Aviation
● Cades Cove
While you are getting ready for your trip, it is time for me to say goodbye to the Smoky Mountains. I hope you enjoyed this travel guide and have already found your ideal hotel!
To wrap up, let me give you my final thoughts on where to stay in the Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the best towns to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but if you want to stay in an off-the-beaten-path area to save on hotel prices or avoid the crowds, I recommend staying in Sevierville or Wear Valley.
If you are planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from North Carolina you can take a day trip to Cherokee village at the North Carolina End and learn about Cherokee culture.
Wherever you choose, please do not forget to make a reservation in advance as these hotels are the most popular places to stay while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This will also help you to get better deals on accommodations and who doesn’t love savings some money!
For those who cannot decide among tons of hotel options let me wrap up. Here are my top 2 hotels near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They both have amazing guest reviews and central location in downtown Gatlinburg:
- Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg – The best hotel to stay near the Smoky Mountains National Park
- Wyndham Pigeon Forge – A great place to stay in Pigeon Forge that has easy access to the Smoky Mountains National Park
If you have any other suggestions or questions about the areas near the Smoky Mountains National Park Tennessee and North Carolina do not hesitate to leave a comment below. I’ll be glad to leave a reply to them. Looking forward to seeing you soon on another journey!
Enjoy your great smoky Mountain vacation,