Access for Visitors with Special Needs
in Pigeon Forge Area
The Ultimate Guide
Is Pigeon Forge a Good Place for People with Special Needs?
I made this list to help empower people who want to come visit the Smoky Mountains, but are not sure what to expect because of having a special need. Knowledge is power!
Pigeon Forge really has a lot to offer for those special needs. With a little planning, and this guide, I want to help you have fun and make wonderful memories on your trip.
The Smoky Mountains do not have to be off limits to people who need wheelchair accessible attractions, shows, festivals and dining.
As time tends to change things, please call ahead to confirm these items.
Feel free to email me at SmokyMountainStarlight@gmail.com if you find anything that would be helpful to add or delete here. If you have had a great experience somewhere, please send it to my email so we can let everyone know.
Sometimes, you may encounter individuals who are not accommodating, or seem uncaring. This should be reported to management, and not a reflection upon the business as a whole. On the other hand, IF management has the same bad attitude, then the business should be avoided and feel free to let me know at this site’s email.
Scooter Sales and Rentals can be found in Pigeon Forge at 3536 Parkway.
Attractions with Reported Good Wheelchair Access
Fun Time Trolleys that run throughout the town ARE wheelchair accessible.
The Mountain Mile
Cades Cove Riding Stables - I love this one! Hay rides and horse drawn carriages are modified to allow for wheelchair acess.
Iron Mountain Metal Craft, Old Mill District
Old Mill Restaurant and Village
Titanic Museum - Can be crowded, but accessible. Elevator at the Grand Staircase available to go up. Bathrooms are wheelchair accessible as well
Smoky Mountain Opry- Row "O" has numerous chairs that are removable as to accommodate wheelchairs or scooters. Handicap parking is right next to the side entrance of the theater. Restrooms are spacious and ADA accessible.
Parrot Mountain- Wheelchair accessible but not recommended for a rainy day due to steep walks. You will need someone to assist for the steep hills.
City of Sevierville All-Inclusive Playground - great for kids
RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM- FREE Wheelchair rentals -Get Combo Pass to save $
Ripley's Aquarium also hosts "Sensory Friendly Night at the Aquarium" July 11 and Sept 26. Call for details.
Pigeon Forge Riverwalk Greenway
Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway - Tram is accessible but not all things at Ober are accessible.- Check website or call for details.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Pigeon Forge Snow - a large, wide, escalator takes you to the top of the slides, but you will need help if you are unable to get in and out of an innertube.
Country Tonite Theatre
Dolly Parton’s Stampede- Top level is recommended seating for wheelchairs and a table extension can be requested.
3 Bears General Store
Grand Majestic Dinner Theatre
Tomb Egyptian Adventure
GSM Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Wheelchair access but not space for scooters
Tanger Outlets Shopping
Mountain Mall in Gatlinburg
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show - elevator and seating, call ahead for availability
Dollywood & Dollywood Splash Country - Dollywood’s Tram is accessible for wheelchairs. Wheelchairs and ECV (electric convenience vehicles) can be rented and reserved ahead of time. Check “Ride Accessibility Center” inside the park-you can get a boarding pass and a park map guide that shows which rides are accessible for you.
Splash Country features Accessibility Tubes (tubes that have built in seats or bottoms and are see-through) and Aquatic Transfer Wheelchairs. (pvc water access wheelchairs that can enter water) Lifeguards are trained to assist with these. Those with limited mobility can safely enjoy the water with everyone.
This list will get you off to a good start. I will add places as I find them. There is no way I can possibly list all businesses, but I will try to add the most interesting and popular places with the best reviews.
It’s always recommended that you call a business ahead if you will need different accommodations that what are normally offered. It’s a common courtesy to give the business a little time to fulfill your needs. Always get the name of the person you speak with so there will be accountability for the actions they take.
Dining/Food Places with Reported Good Wheelchair Access
JT Hannah’s Kitchen
Reagan’s House of Pancakes
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
Old Mill Restaurant
Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Grille
Lil Black Bear Cafe
Smoky’s Pancake Cabin
What are Some Wheelchair Accessible Trails in the Smoky Mountains Tennessee Area?
Trails Recommended for Wheelchair Access
Gatlinburg Trail- 1.9 mile, one way walk, paved and gravel (see video here)
Sugarland Valley Trail- .5 miles roundtrip, paved
Laurel Creek Falls Trail - 2.17 miles roundtrip, paved but assistance will be needed for wheelchair riders. Trail is steep and rutted in some places. You will need to take your time and go very slow with a wheelchair on this trail, but in good weather, it can be done.
Cataract Falls Trail- This would be an excellent choice. Located behind the Sugarland Visitor Center. Easy walk, short distance, with benches available, and a beautiful waterfall.
Is Clingman’s Dome Wheelchair Accessible?
Clingman’s Dome Trail- 1.2 mile round trip. The trail is steep and paved, but assistance will be needed for wheelchair rider. It’s not an easy push up, nor is it an easy walk up. You will need plenty of stamina and time to rest along the way due to the escalation. Some people go to Clingman’s Dome and just stay in the parking lot itself because it is flat and easily accessible with beautiful views. If this is not for you, check out what some say is a better alternative - Look Rock Tower.
Look Rock Tower- is a good alternative to the hard climb of Clingman’s Dome, and is suggested to be just as wonderful of a panoramic view.
Pigeon Forge Riverwalk Greenway- This is not a typical “trail” but it is a nice, paved walk and accessibility is not a problem. It is recently completed in 2018 and stretches 4 miles of good scenic walking along the Little Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge.
The 14 “Quiet Walkways of the Smoky Mountains”- As you drive through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, look for these inconspicuous little gems. For anyone with disability, trouble walking, or who is visually or hearing impaired, autistic or wheelchair bound, they are pure gold. Just off the beaten path, and away from the crowds, you will find your own little piece of heaven.
Quiet walkways are lesser known, short, easy paths with beautiful scenery made for those who may not want to hike, but still want to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Most are right off the main roads for easy, quick access.
Usually they are ¼ to ½ mile each and are marked with a “Quiet Walkway” sign.
Here is a map of some Quiet Walkways near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Click or tap to zoom.
Tip: When getting on unpaved mountain trails, you should know there can be rocks and tree roots embedded into the dirt. Some trails are smoother than others, so be careful.
Wheelchair Accessible Picnic Areas Near Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg
(All Can be Found on Google Maps or GSMNP Visitor Centers)
Cades Cove Picnic Area (GSMNP)
Chimneys Picnic Area (GSMNP)
Cosby Picnic Area (GSMNP)
Metcalf Bottoms (GSMNP)
Herbert Holt Park in Gatlinburg - Includes Handicap Accessible Fishing Pier
Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge
Mynatt Park in Gatlinburg - Includes Handicap Accessible Fishing Pier
Douglas Reservoir Picnic Area and Pavilion, Sevierville
Douglas Dam Overlook, Sevierville
Herbert Holt Park in Gatlinburg has an area for trout fishing that is reserved only for handicapped persons and children!
Mynatt Park also has wheelchair access fishing ramp
Douglas Lake , Sevierville
Little Valley Mountain Resort has a wheelchair accessible fishing pond
According to The National Park Service, NPS.gov :
“Camping - Reservations for an “accessible unit” (wheelchair accessible) can be made for campsites in 3 campgrounds: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont, from May 15 to October 31. For reservations, call
1-877-444-6777. Accessible sites are generally level and located adjacent to accessible restrooms. The campsites have been modified with paving, specialized tables, and fire grills.”
Also, according to NPS.gov :
“Access Passports - If you are a U.S. citizen and have a permanent disability, you may obtain a free Access Passport at Sugarlands or Oconaluftee visitor centers. The passport allows free admission to federal areas which charge entrance fees and provides reductions for other types of user fees.”
You may also call Recreation.gov at (800) 365-2267.
Scenic Driving Tours
Check Google Maps for directions:
The Missing Link begins in Wears Valley
Cades Cove 11 mile Loop near Townsend Tennessee
Roaring Fork near downtown Gatlinburg Tennessee
Tremont Road, near Townsend Tennessee
Rich Mountain Road: Starting in Cades Cove ending in Townsend Tennessee
Parsons Branch Road: Starting in Cades Cove ending on 129 between Fontana North Carolina and Maryville Tennessee
Mountain Memory Tours- Bus is wheelchair accessible
*Some roads close for winter
Hotels with Good Reviews for Handicap Access Rooms
Inn on the River
All Season Suites
Willow Brook Lodge
Best Western Plaza Inn
Margaritaville Hotel at The Island
*Don't forget to ask about Pool Lifts. Many hotels have Pool lifts for outdoor and indoor pools.
Checking Hotel prices is easy. Click here to Check Now.
Tips & Ideas for People With Hearing Impairment
Wonderworks is great for hands on exhibits
Assistive listening devices at Dollywood and American Sign Language Interpreters are available if notice is given 2 weeks in advance (865) 428-9461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show scripts are available for use at many (not all) of the shows at Dollywood. Ask theatre ushers or Sound Techs.
Tips & Ideas for People With Visual Impairment
Get pampered at a Spa like Riverstone Resort or St. Somewhere Spa at The Island’s Margaritaville Hotel
Taste the free samples at The Old Mill Candy Kitchen
Hear and Feel the Music at Dinner Theatres like Grand Majestic, Country Tonite, Rocky Top Theatre, Memories Theatre, Smoky Mountain Opry Theatre, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, Comedy Barn
Titanic Museum includes Audio earphones at no extra charge
Ober’s Scenic Chair Lift, Gatlinburg have special viewers that allow colorblind people to see colors.
Wonderworks- Excellent hands on exhibits, but help from a friend or family would be needed.
Outback Steakhouse has braille menus.
Tips: Do not hesitate to ask for large print or braille menus. Also, most menus are online, and you could ask a friend or family member to read them to you ahead of time.
1.) Did you know there are museums that offer special tours for visually impaired that will allow you to touch certain items on display? Most require booking in advance to allow for this special tour.
2.) Utilize the hotel’s or cabin company’s concierge if available. Most times, they will be highly valuable to you. If a concierge is not available, ask if one of the trusted housekeepers or housemen can be allowed to do certain things for you, if needed. Most management will be happy to assist.
3.) Consider booking a local tour guide. Doing this when you first arrive can be a great way to plan ahead and get tips on things to do.
4.) Consider using dots on luggage, C pen reader for menus.
Kids & Adults With Autism
Dollywood has a one of a kind “Autism Calming Room” that was specially designed for anyone who needs it. A quiet, private enclosed cottage space with toys and objects specially designed to help with over stimulation.
Wonderworks- Hosts a Sensory Day each year (Sept 9, 2018 9am-12pm) geared toward Autistic kids and adults to enjoy a quieter, gentler experience for those who can be overwhelmed in this usually noisy envirornment.
Consider one of the hiking trails or "Quiet Walkways" throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Where Can I Find Gluten Free Food Options In Pigeon Forge?
Dollywood’s Backstage Restaurant is the place to eat where the cooks can custom prepare gluten free and vegetarian foods.
Many pizza places now have gluten free options
The Local Goat
Sawyer’s Farmhouse Breakfast offers gluten free pancakes
Pigeon Forge Deli
JT Hannah’s - gluten free buns
Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe-Gluten free pancakes
Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show has gluten free options menu
Wild Bear Tavern-gluten free by request
Mom’s Vintage Kitchen is in Dandridge, down the road from PF but EVERYthing is Gluten Free! And gets very high marks!
Smoky Mountain Brewery has gluten free pizza
Johnny Carino’s has gluten free menu
Front Porch Cafe inside Dollywood
Lee’s Fusion Cafe Asian Grille
GiGi’s Cupcakes offers gluten free cupcakes
Whole Earth Cafe, Gatlinburg
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show
Timberwood Grille has gluten free menu
Poynor’s Pommes Frites-Gluten free bratwurst
Hard Rock Cafe
Holston’s Kitchen, Sevierville, gluten free menu
McAllister’s Deli offers gluten free bread
Healthy Balance Meals, Sevierville
Nino’s Pizzeria & Eatery, Sevierville
Roaming Gnome Pub & Eatery, Sevierville offers gluten free bread
Taste of Italy, Gatlinburg offers gluten free pizza
Denny’s - some gluten free options
Thai Basil, Sevierville
Flapjacks offers gluten free pancakes
Apple Barn Restaurant offers gluten free selections
Landshark Bar and Grill, Gatlinburg has some gluten free menu items
Outback Steakhouse, Sevierville gluten free menu
Rabbit Food Market, Sevierville