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Driving from Knoxville airport to Gatlinburg

Tom52

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I will be visiting Gatlinburg in about 10 days. On the way down we will be picking up our daughter at the McGhee Tyson Airport south of Knoxville. Can anyone recommend the best/quickest route to get from the airport to Gatlinburg? I would prefer to avoid the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge traffic if possible.

I see on the map that I could take highway 115 South from the airport to US 321 going East. It looks like their is a small side road on the map, Lyon Springs Road that runs into the park and then intersects with Little River Road. Little River Road then intersects with the main road running through Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park just a few miles from Gatlinburg at the visitors center. Is this a route that would be open in late December? Can anyone recommend a better route that will bypass the congested areas?
 

kjlknox

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Airport to Gatlinburg

We took the route you are looking at once during the summer and found it almost as busy as the route through Pigeon Forge. We didn't take the road through the park because we were staying in Townsend for a few days. We then took the Wears Valley Road into Pigeon Forge before going on to Gatlinburg. If you are arriving before Christmas, the traffic will not be as bad as if you arrive on 12/26. One year we arrived late afternoon on Christmas Eve and found Pigeon Forge looking almost like a ghost town. The year we came in on 12/26 was a nightmare. The church youth groups arrive in the area on 12/26 for their convention and it can take 3 hours to get through the traffic.

Hope this helps.
Kathy
 

nicklinneh

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Tom-
Since you show ownership at CMV, I assume you might be staying at Mountainloft. Then there's a back way to get there w/o traffic, although curvy roads. Go to Sevierville (not bad, it's PF you want to avoid). When you get to the big right turn to PF and G'burg, don't take it! Instead go straight ahead about 5 miles and turn right on 416. This ends up at US Hwy 321. Turn right to go back towards G'burg. You'll pass a shopping center and the post office and then ML on the right, all without going through either PF or G'burg. Have a good vacation. -----ken
 

Kozman

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If you come in on 66 from 40 you can turn left at 411, go down about a quarter of a mile, turn right on Middle Creek (McDonalds on the left side of road) and take it until you are at the south end of Pigeon Forge. This may save you a few miles over the longer route suggested, and the majority of the traffic.
 

Tom52

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Thanks for the suggestions Kathy, Ken, and Kozman. My map is not detailed enough to see Middle Creek Road but I do see Middle Creek so I assume the road runs more or less parallel to it.

I think the best bet would be to follow 411 from the airport to Sevierville and then look for the Middle Creek Road (or Street??) to south of Pigeon Forge. I will be arriving on Thursday Dec. 22 so maybe the traffic will not be too bad.

By the way I am staying at TreeTops so I believe it is just off 321, like Mountain Loft but a little closer to town.

Does anyone know if the main highway though the park between Gatlinburg and Cherokee open this time of year?
 

sfwilshire

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I'm going to have to print this out. I live an hour from Pigeon Forge and have made the airport to there trek, but most of these routes don't ring a bell at all.

I'd have to get a map, but my first choice of a route takes you from Maryville over to Hwy 411 (or is it 441? I can't ever keep those straight), then Middle Creek Rd and just struggle through the traffic to Gatlinburg. I know there's a back road that I took once between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but we got a bit lost and I'd probably never find it again.

The Wears Valley route would be another good choice, but again, you'd have the bad traffic from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg.

You could also continue into the Park on the Townsend side and go through the park into Gatlinburg. That might be the best route from the airport in a heavy traffic time. That may be the River Rd route that was mentioned.

The road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee closes when there is a weather event. Normally it's just for part of a day, as we've already had at least once this year. Sometimes the closure lasts for a day or two. It's never for months at a time like in some of the western parks.

Sheila
 

IreneLF

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The road through the park was closed for two days when we were there the last week in April this year. (it snowed just a trace in Gatlinburg, we saw the flurries that first morning, but they got inches on the mountains.) When we finally got to drive through to Clingman's Dome we were able to sing "On Top of Old Smoky, all covered with snow" and have it be true.
There's a parks # to call (listed on the parks' website) that gives great daily updates on the road closures .
 

Kozman

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Middle Creek Rd.

We were just at Pigeon Forge and had absolutely no problem with Middle Creek road. I don't really think too many casual tourists know about it. Even if I'm wrong, it's a far cry from going through the main drag. All lights are set for almost two minutes and timed to catch you at almost every one. And the per capita of police to tourists must be one of the highest in the country. They are everywhere so don't speed. You have a lot of choices presented here. I think it boils down to the individual preference as to the best route. I'm sticking with mine. Another good road to remember is Teaster. This one does closely follow the main drag. Good luck.
 

Tom52

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A follow up

We just returned from our trip to Gatlinburg. Our drive from the Knoxville airport through Townsend, then the scenic road through the park into Gatlinburg (I think it was called route 73), was probably the quickest route. One hour and 15 minutes total travel time. We totally bypassed both Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Be advised this road could possibly be closed in bad weather. Later in the week we tried both Teaster and Middle Creek Road. Teaster starts at stop light 3 in Pigeon Forge, if I remember correctly, then tees into Dollywood Lane which comes out at stop light 8. You can bypass quite a bit of the congestion on the main drag by using Teaster. Middle Creek Road also comes out at the same stoplight #8. Again, Middle Creek Road is a good way to bypass 90% of the congestion through both Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.

By the way, our stay at TreeTops was very disappointing. I will be submitting a review so check it out if interested.
 
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