The Smokies. A loving nickname for the lovely Great Smoky Mountains. For most of us, those words brings a vision of low, undulating mountains, their rocky slopes covered with dark, dense hardwood forests. And they’re all covered with that weird, smoky, natural fog that hangs over the area. These ancient, gently rolling mountains are part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province, and viewed from a distance, they present a painterly aspect of stacked ripples of soft blues, grays and purples. The Smokies, naturally, are part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the country. These lovely, foggy mountains are the reason everyone comes. It’s probably the reason you’ve made the decision to vacation here in pretty Gatlinburg, and The Cabin Rental Store offers the best places to stay in Gatlinburg for when you do.
Location, Location, Location
Our vacation rentals and other places t0 stay in Gatlinburg are spread throughout the area, in and around Gatlinburg and Sevierville, and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No matter which of our vacation rentals you select, you’ll be rewarded with top-level amenities, spacious, warm and welcoming spaces, and of course, amazing views of the Smokies. And you’ll be minutes away from area amenities and attractions, including the park.
Approximately 40 miles from Knoxville, to the south/southeast, lies Gatlinburg, a beautiful mountain resort city, bordering on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This small city (roughly 10 square miles) is encircled by massifs, including the third highest peak in the park, Le Conte Mountain, to the south. The city is about 2 miles north of the park, making it the perfect spot to stay if you plan on spending any time in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
While it began as a rough pioneer town, established mainly by War of 1812 and Revolutionary War veterans who settled on 50-acre tracts of rugged land they received for their service, Gatlinburg is now an energetic, popular vacation resort town. There’s plenty to do in town too, from dining in world-class restaurants, visiting bizarre museums (like all the Ripley’s Believe it or Nots), to touring a few distilleries like Ole Smoky (the first federally licensed moonshine distillery in Tennessee) or Sugarland’s Distilling Company.
Many of our vacation rentals are located near Sevierville, north of Gatlinburg, just past Pigeon Fork. This little town is located on a bit of land between two river junctions, and is also known as Forks-of-the-River or Forks-of-the-Pigeon. It’s about a half hour drive north of Gatlinburg and the park.
Sevierville’s first inhabitants were Native Americans. These first inhabitants built the McMahan Indian Mound between 1200 and 1500 AD, which was excavated and essentially removed, though there is a sign monument showing its location. But, perhaps the most famous inhabitant of Sevierville is Dolly Parton, who was born in the city. Sevierville is also where Cormac McCarthy based his novel, Child of God.
The Top Attraction Around
The most popular attraction in the area is, of course, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, you’ll find remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, densely forested areas and scenic balds, pretty streams, waterfalls and more. There’s an amazing diversity here, and no matter what your interests or favorite activities, there’s something here in the park for you.
Obviously, enjoying nature is the top attraction here. Bring (or rent) your bike or your hiking boots and hit the trails enjoying the amazing mountain views, quiet forests, open grassy meadows filled with wildflowers, remnants of stone walls and chimneys, streams and cascading waterfalls. A few popular spots to visit are Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Chimney Top, and Rainbow Falls. You can also stay in your car and enjoy one of the auto touring drives or step back in time on horseback.
With over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants in the park, there’s something blooming year-round, from spring blooming bleeding hearts, columbine, orchids, trilliums, and violets to summer displays of monarda, black-eyed susans, and more orchids, to the fall blooming sunflowers, coneflowers, asters and Joe-Pye-weed. And, you can’t forget the flowering trees and shrubs, with red maples, dogwood, redbud, Fraser magnolias, tulip trees, witch-hazel, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and flame azaleas.
You may not have thought about it, but there are many historic buildings and cemeteries in the park too. Since all the land in the park was bought over time from local families who had been living in the area, homes, outbuildings, schools, churches and cemeteries were left behind when they moved on. If your interest lays in early cultural and religious customs, there are over 150 cemeteries, some with churches, in the park, to visit. From the Little Greenbrier Cemetery next to the historic Little Greenbrier School, (which also served as the community’s church), to the larger Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery with over 300 gravesites, (including many first settlers of Cades Cove), to the small, sad little John Barnes Children’s Cemetery where Barnes buried three of his children in the back yard of his homestead (no longer visible). A few historic structures to visit for a glimpse of our past include Elkmont Ghost Town, Mingus Mill, Palmer Chapel, and Little Cataloochee Church with its pretty steeple. Cades Cove is the most visited part of the park since it does feature many of the historic buildings and landmarks.
And then there are the wildlife viewing and birdwatching opportunities. The park is populated by elk, Eastern Box Turtle, crayfish, salamanders, white-tailed deer, raccoons, turkeys, barred owls, woodchucks, coyote, foxes, rabbits, and otters to name a few. Oh, and black bears! With more than 1,600 bear in the park, that’s about two bears per mile! The park is also known as the “Salamander Capital of the World,” including the hellbender salamander which can reach lengths of almost 30 inches.
The park is an angler’s dream come true, especially if you fly fish. You can enjoy a variety of fishing experiences for trout, bass and more in the swift flowing streams in the park. And the best part is that you can enjoy fishing year-round.
While 95% of the park is forested with spruce-fir forests (at the highest elevations), northern hardwood forests (beech, birch, maple, and all those lovely fall foliage trees), hemlock forests and pine and oak forests, there are grassy balds (large, grassy meadows), heath balds (large meadows with shrubby plants, and wetlands to see.
Other Area Attractions
The Gatlinburg and Sevierville area has plenty of other attractions to offer you during your stay. Here are just a few for your consideration, if you have any time left after visiting the park.
Since you’re in Appalachia, you should try moonshine, if you haven’t already. Its taste can’t be explained really, but good moonshine doesn’t taste like rubbing alcohol or something worse. And there are several world-class distilleries abound here where you can taste moonshine like it’s supposed to taste. We’ve already mentioned Ole Smoky and Sugarland’s Distilling Company, but you should add the Tennessee Shine Company and Bootleggers Homemade Wine (for wine, not shine) to your itinerary.
If you’re not afraid of heights, take a walk across the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in the country. The bridge is 680 feet long, and has over 30 feet of glass panels in the middle of the bridge where you might be able to see the ground 150 feet below if you can look down. The bridge is at SkyLift Park, and as you can imagine, offers amazing views of the area. Ride the yellow SkyLift chairs up 1,800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain, enjoying the view as you rise high above the ground, or take a walk along the SkyTrail, a scenic walkway that connects each end of the bridge, with an Elevated-Boardwalk, the 70-foot high Tulip Tower (accessed by two rope bridges) and its four elevated viewing platforms, and The Path.
If there’s snow on the ground, you can hit the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area. It’s the only ski resort in the state, and offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and tubing. And, depending on the season, you can ride the Aerial Tramway (another way to enjoy panoramic views of the Smokies), Carousel or the Ski Mountain Coaster, climb the rock wall, play mini golf, try the alpine slide, cool off with the water raft rides, and visit the wildlife encounter area that the kids will love. Need more ways to tire those kids out? Take the kids to Anakeesta. It’s a theme park, with zip lines, chair and gondola rides to the top of Anakeesta Mountain, a mountain roller coaster and more.
For more amazing panoramic views of the Smokey Mountains, plan a visit to the Gatlinburg Space Needle. This 407-foot tall observation tower has glass elevators, exhibits on Gatlinburg history, a two-story arcade, and the Iris Theater (where you can watch magic and mentalism shows).
Over 100 artists and craftsmen make up The Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community. Located on the north side of Gatlinburg, the Community is dedicated to preserving traditional mountain crafts. It’s an 8-mile long loop filled with painters, sculptors, soap and candle makers, glass blowers, potters, weavers, silversmiths, casters, carvers, and more. Find a wide variety of arts and crafts, from kitschy, fun souvenirs to handcrafted Mountain Dulcimers too pretty to play. In fact, you can take dulcimer lessons and learn other crafts while you’re here too.
And there are tons of museums and the like. If you have a car lover in your group, plan a visit to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum where you can see Mayberry’s squad car, the jalopy from the Beverly Hillbillies, Herbie the Love Bug, two Batmobiles and more. For something very specific, try the Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers with more than 20,000 shakers from around the world on exhibit. And there’s the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley’s Super Fun Zone, and the ever-popular Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country. Dollywood and Splash Country, 6 miles from Gatlinburg to the north, is a top rated outdoor waterpark, and features amusement park rides as well as the waterpark rides. Dollywood also features traditional crafts and music and is the site of the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame.
Luxury Vacation Rental Amenities
Most of our large, luxury places to stay in Gatlinburg are located in or near the city and offer standard luxury amenities like Wi-Fi, game rooms with pool tables and arcade games, hot tubs, gourmet kitchens, interior fireplaces in throughout the public areas and in many bedrooms, large flat screen TVs throughout, and home theaters (some featuring over 30 seats). Every rental offers plenty of windows and expansive walls of glass so you can enjoy that view of the misty blue mountains from anywhere in your rental.
Our Sevierville rentals are luxurious, spacious mansion retreats, with the ability to sleep up to 88 guests. Ranging from 11 bedrooms/12 bathrooms to 28 bedrooms/30 bathrooms, these are luxury ‘cabins’ with amazing, panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. These are the rentals for large gatherings and are perfect for destination weddings. Imagine being able to accommodate all your guests at one spot with ease, and even host your event at your rental. Many of our larger mansions feature expansive public spaces that are perfect for weddings and other important celebrations.
Many of our rentals have also have gas grills on large decks with amazing views, and many feature ground-floor accessible suites, elevators and other amenities to make your guests stay here as comfortable as possible.
Luxury Vacation Rentals in the Gatlinburg Area
For unending vistas of those lovely, low, undulating mountains, and that weird, smoky, natural fog, you’ve come to the right spot. Our best places to stay in Gatlinburg feature lovely views of the Great Smoky Mountains and count the view as the most important amenity. Not sure which of our rentals is right for you? Just give our reservation specialists a call for assistance. We’d love to help make your vacation here in the Gatlinburg area the very best it can be.