flag and traffic in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
It got pretty busy and crowded during my walking tour of Gatlinburg, TN

Another of our 4k City Walks. I made a quick stop in Gatlinburg, TN and it kind of took me by surprise. The surrounding area has astounding natural beauty and it actually borders Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The divide, where we start our walk, is stark and obvious.

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee – Virtual tour of the Tourist Mecca in TN – Virtual Tours of Cities


I originally thought Gatlinburg was a music center, maybe because I have memories of the Gatlin Brothers and I conflated the two. However, it is primarily a gateway town to GSMNP. It reminds me of Myrtle Beach a bit or possibly Brighton (never been). The main street is awash with activities for tourists and families and you can take chair lifts up the mountains on either side of the valley. It smells of cooked sugar and stimulates the senses the whole way. It’s obviously a very popular place to visit though I found it a bit overwhelming being from Montana. Dollywood is not too far away in Pigeon Forge which was more spread out and not as conducive to walking.

Sign for Great Smokey Mountains National Park
This is the border of Gatlinburg and the National Park during our virtual city tour

Gatlinburg is in Sevier County, Tennessee and it is located about 40 miles southeast of Knoxville. It has a population of about 3,500 as of 2020. It is a popular vacation resort because it sits on the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along U.S. Route 441. This road connects to Cherokee, North Carolina, on the southeast side of the national park. Prior to incorporation, the town was known as White Oak Flats, or just simply White Oak.

The area was populated by the Cherokee and other native peoples prior to Europeans arriving in about 1806. It used to be known as White Oak Flats but in 1856, the town got its current name from the general store owned by Radford Gatlin.

Notes:

  • The “Reagan” name I point out in the video is indeed named for a local family.
  • Anakeesta is a nearby theme park named after the Anakeesta Formation that makes up many of the mountains near Gatlinburg. In Cherokee, the name means “the place of the balsams” and refers to high ground.
  • Kudzu is an invasive plant species in the United States, introduced from Asia with devastating environmental consequences, earning it the nickname “the vine that ate the South”.

An American Flag along the main street of Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Patriotism and Americana flourish during our walking tour through Gatlinburg

More Walking Tours in Tennessee:
Nashville Tennessee Morning Walking Tour
Chattanooga’s South Side Walking Tour
Downtown Chattanooga, TN Walking Tour
Chattanooga, TN Riverfront Tour
Knoxville, TN Downtown Walk
Knoxville UT Campus Tour

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