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Each new year Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg rolls in with the pristine haze of the Smoky Mountains. Ancient hills and mountaintops extend high into the sky, seemingly scraping across the horizon of delicate clouds and golden sunlight. Harwood canopies stand like paintbrushes, soaking in the colors of the season as bubbling creeks and streams serenade the ambiance of nature trails and wildflowers. Such beauty is found in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and both cities had similar beginnings. The Cherokee traversed across the valley to use it as a hunting ground. Their path became known as the “Indian Gap Trail,” and it extended from the Smoky Mountains to North Carolina. Settlers slowly made their way into the area and developed trade relations with the Cherokee, residing along Pigeon Forge - named after the Little Pigeon River and a forge built in 1817 - years before the American Revolutionary War. Following the establishment of the first business, Pigeon Forge found its identity shifting from farming to that of tourism as myriads of visitors came to see the Great Smoky Mountains. This is still so today, as millions of people vacation in Pigeon Forge for not only its natural bliss, but for its plethora of entertainment venues. In like fashion, Gatlinburg was first inhabited by the Cherokee, who used the Indian Gap Trail here as well. American settler William Ogle ventured into the area from South Carolina in the early 19th century, working alongside the Cherokee to construct his own cabin. While Ogle would unfortunately pass away before its completion, his wife and family followed in his stead; their cabin still stands today in Gatlinburg. In 1856, local Radford Gatlin established a post office, and the town was thusly named “Gatlinburg.” An explosive lumber industry would make way for tourism though it nearly destroyed the mountains. They were saved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and officially dedicated it a national park in 1940. Since then, hikers have enjoyed the Appalachian Trail, drivers have indulged in the gorgeous scenery of flowing rivers and streams, and visitors have meandered their way through many different walking paths. Wildlife abounds, including black bear, wolves, elk, fox, deer, and many other animals. Today, the park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg are an enduring testament to the mountain people who settled in that area, as well as the Cherokee culture. Aside from a rich history, Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Smokies, features attractions like Ripley's Aquarium, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, Ober Gatlinburg ski area, fantastic restaurants, and quaint stores. It is an ideal vacation area for families, couples, and friends because the fun you will have while visiting is worth sharing. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the gorgeous scenery and your fantastic vacation in the Smoky Mountains.
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are perfect destinations for nature lovers and entertainment seekers. Explore the breathless wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on foot or from the air, or sit in laughter and awe as magical shows challenge your perception of reality. Pigeon Forge has one of the best theme parks in the nation, Dollywood, and both cities feature a bevy of dinner shows for families. Rain or shine, there is plenty to do!
Tennessean hospitality and Southern, homestyle cooking provide a range of dining options for the hungry traveler. Private, romantic getaways are nestled in the restaurants of Smoky Mountain lodging, while raucous grills show all the big sporting events. Unique personalities flow in each venue, exceeding the expectations of locals and visitors time and time again.
Taking a seat in a café is always made more enjoyable when the natural surroundings are equally as breathtaking as the coffee or tea. Smiling owners and staff are found in these cafés, creating a warm atmosphere that welcomes locals and visitors. Enjoy the warmth of fresh food and beverages before facing winter mornings or relax in their cool interiors during the summer.
The Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg nightlife is geared more towards the bar and dining scene. Brew and spirits are always en vogue, from biker bars to chains like Hard Rock Café. For dancing, check out Club 812.
Quaint, old-setting shopping villages and familiar outlet malls are plentiful between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. An abundance of artists lend their artwork and a collection of galleries to the areas, capturing the surrounding and natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains and streams with perfection.
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