My first time in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, was as a child in the 1970s. Back then, the main highway through the mountain valley was two lanes and lined with cornfields, running alongside the Little Pigeon River. There were a handful of businesses mostly geared to tourists visiting nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most-visited National Park. Today, that same highway has six lanes and is referred to as “the Parkway”.
What changed in the intervening years is that Dolly Parton came back to town in 1986 to turn a dated tourist attraction into the Dollywood theme park. Now, Dollywood is Tennessee’s top ticketed attraction, drawing over 3.2 million visitors annually — amazing to ponder, considering all the attractions in the state’s biggest cities of Nashville and Memphis.
Being a year-round destination, many visitors to Pigeon Forge seek out accommodations with indoor heated pools. Plenty of options are available, ranging from large and luxurious to smaller, inviting properties with riverside rooms. For families and anyone else who loves country, gospel music or Southern Appalachian culture, Pigeon Forge is the place to be.