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Great Smoky Mountains Lodging Inside the Park

There is no lodging inside the park other than LeConte Lodge, which is located at the summit of Mount LeConte. The only way to get there is a long and steep hike. It is certainly not meant for the average hotel seeker, and reservations are needed far, far in advance.

Great Smoky Mountains Lodging Near the Park

The large majority of people stay in either Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge on the Tennessee side, or in Cherokee on the North Carolina side. Of course, most people also only focus on the main part of the park covered by the Newfound Gap Road (US-441). On a longer visit, it would be more sensible to stay in at least two different places, preferably one in each state.

The much less visited areas of Balsam Mountain, Cataloochee Cove and Big Creek can be easily accessed from Maggie Valley, NC. The very popular Deep Creek area is just outside Bryson City, NC. And of course, Townsend, TN is near the Townsend entrance, which is the closest access to the immensely popular Cades Cove area.

Gatlinburg overnight lodging options

The town of Gatlinburg is the closest lodging to the park on the Tennessee side, and probably the most popular place to stay. The main road through town turns into Newfound Gap Road only a few hundred feet from some of the hotels. Traffic here in the summer and fall is overwhelming to say the least, and the sidewalks resemble those of a major city rather than a mountain town. There is a wide variety of all services available. Gatlinburg is an ideal location for those who want both proximity to the park and a full selection of activities outside the park.

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Pigeon Forge overnight lodging options

Pigeon Forge is a large tourist town located north of Gatlinburg on US-441. In addition to lodging, it offers a huge variety of every type of service. It has a very touristy feel to it, and all sorts of attractions line the six-lane US-441, known as “Parkway” in the area. Pigeon Forge may be the best choice for families, as there is a virtually unlimited number of amusements and activities, in addition to its proximity to the park. Rates also tend to be a bit lower than Gatlinburg. The “Gatlinburg Bypass” also allows those staying in Pigeon Forge to avoid the Gatlinburg traffic on their way to the park.

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Cherokee overnight lodging options

The town of Cherokee, located entirely within the Cherokee Qualla Reservation, has become a major tourist area. Along with its placement at the doorstep to the most visited national park in the world, the addition of the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino has attracted still more hotels. While it is not as overrun with tourist attractions as the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, it has a wide variety of services, and is a good compromise between quiet and full service. It lies at the south end of Newfound Gap Road immediately outside of the park boundary.

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Maggie Valley overnight lodging options

Maggie Valley is located along US-19 in the heart of the Smokies. The Cataloochee Cove, Big Creek and Balsam Mountain areas of the park are readily accessible, as is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway, while not technically a national park, is overseen by the National Park Service, and is their most visited unit (Great Smoky Mountains is #2). Maggie Valley is also a popular skiing area in the winter. Most of the town’s lodging is independent of chains, and can be easily found with the “check prices” link below.

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Bryson City overnight lodging options

Bryson City is a very nice escape from the more common areas of Cherokee and Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. It is a small, quiet town missing most of the tourist traps and the overbearing crowds. Its section of the park however, Deep Creek, is enormously popular, especially in the summer, as floating the creek in tubes is a favorite activity. Three waterfalls are also within easy hiking distance.

In addition to its proximity to the Deep Creek area, it is also within 20 minutes of the main park section at the Cherokee entrance, so it is an excellent alternative for those who can do without the endless attractions and amenities (or for those who specifically are looking to avoid them).

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Townsend overnight lodging options

Townsend is a small town along US-321 north of the park. It is only a few miles to the Townsend entrance, which is just north of the intersection of the Little River Road and Laurel Creek Road. From there, it is only a 7 mile drive to the insanely popular Cades Cove area. It is also reasonable to access the main Tennessee side of the park along Newfound Gap Road from Townsend.

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