There’s no denying it: Winter is a magical time of year to visit Pigeon Forge. From WinterFest’s twinkling lights to the hustle and bustle of the Parkway, there’s so much to experience here this time of year.
In the nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Mother Nature dresses up the mountain scape for the season, too. You’ll find that the winter months turn the park into a true treasure, with abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing, scenic landscapes and much more. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park recently landed on Fox News’s and The Active Times’ list of “Picturesque National Parks to Visit in the Wintertime.” Though we’re not surprised to see GSMNP take home this honor, we are a little let down that our region’s local and state parks are missing out on the excitement. There are tons of other areas to explore in East Tennessee this time of year, and we’re eager to help you get there.
Here are three other Smoky Mountain-area parks to visit this winter:
1. Patriot Park, Pigeon Forge
If you’re looking for the epicenter of the Winterfest celebration, head to Patriot Park. See the lights up close and in person through February and even climb aboard a Funtime Trolley here for a guided tour. Walk around the park’s paved trail and see the sights of the season. Patriot Park is located right behind the historic Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.
2. Douglas Lake
Take in views of the Douglas Dam and Great Smoky Mountains from the popular picnic areas around Douglas Lake. This park, located just a few miles east of Pigeon Forge, is a great place to stop for a lunch al fresco on a mild winter day. 513 miles of shoreline around the reservoir provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing and more! To get there, take Interstate 40 east to exit 407. Go south on state route 66 then 3.5 miles east on state route 139, then 2.5 miles south on state route 338, then follow signs 1 mile north.
3. Memorial River Trail Greenway
Bundle up and take in the sights, sounds and smells of a Smoky Mountain winter by taking a stroll along the Memorial River Trail Greenway. This paved walking path takes you along the Little Pigeon River through Sevierville and lets you take in the bare terrain and winter wildlife without leaving the comforts of the city. To take a stroll along the Greenway, look for a parking area between the Landmark Inn and the Shoney’s on Forks of the River Parkway. You can also find a second parking area just west of the bridge on Chapman Highway in Sevierville, past the Walgreens and Farmer’s Co-op.
What’s your favorite way to explore nature in the winter? Share your thoughts at the PigeonForge.com Facebook page! While you’re at it, click to PigeonForge.com’s contest page for a chance to win our Winter Dreams Giveaway for a chance to experience a free Smoky Mountain adventure.