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How to Avoid Traffic & Crowds
in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

Traffic and crowds can be huge when you come to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains. But I will show you how to avoid traffic jams and avoid crowds at restaurants too!

Scroll down for the best tips & tricks for avoiding traffic jams and crowds in the Smoky Mountains.

Family driving in car, girl smiling on road trip

Your best friends will be

Google & Google Maps on your laptop, and Google Maps on mobile.

Use your mobile phone to work pure magic and do things you never thought you could!

It will change the way you think about driving on your vacation to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and anywhere in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee -

or on any trip.

I will make it easy for you in a few steps below.

Condos in Walking Distance of Downtown Gatlinburg

Cabins with Free Attraction Tickets

Rare, Secluded Cabins

1.) See Where Traffic Is

Open Google Maps on your phone,

See the red arrows below? This is where you tap and then choose "traffic".

Google map screenshot of gatlinburg with arrow showing the starting point in Pigeon Forge, tn



screenshot of the traffic icon with an arrow pointing to it on Google maps


Google maps screenshot of Pigeon Forge showing directions on how to avoid traffic

2.) Predict   Future  Traffic

Before you leave for your trip,

use Google Maps on your laptop for this,  it's well worth it!

Open a map of your location, and look at the bottom (see photo below).

Google Map screenshot with arrow as a tutorial on how to use the Google Maps features to avoid heavy traffic in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains on vacation


Check Live Traffic



Google Map screenshot with arrow as a tutorial on how to use the Google Maps features to avoid heavy traffic in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains on vacation

You can see that leaving on a Friday morning, before 9am,

avoids a lot of traffic!

3.) Use Google on Laptop to See Busy Times for Restaurants
& Attractions

Before you leave,

use Google on your laptop for this,  it's well worth it!


Google Your Restaurant or Attraction of Choice

Screenshot tutorial of how to use Google to find restaurant times that are not as busy and peak busy times around Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville TN


Scroll down, look on the right side to see popular times

Google search result page with chart showing busy restaurant times

You can see that 3pm would be a good time to visit

Five Oaks Farm Kitchen in Sevierville!

*Many restaurants also have Call Ahead Wait Lists,

just call and ask to be put on one!

Happy couple drives in car on vacation

More Tips & Tricks!

1.) Park and walk

Open Google Maps, and search "Gatlinburg Parking" and you will see the many (mostly paid) parking lots.  Budget a few extra dollars for this, and you will be happily on your way to enjoying downtown Gatlinburg all day, while avoiding traffic.

To find a cabin close to the downtown Gatlinburg Strip, check out my list here. 

Check out this 2 BR condo right downtown Gatlinburg!

Also check out this 1BR condo, also downtown.

You can walk to everything!


2.) Keeping check-out times in mind

Check in times for most cabins and hotels are 

  • Check in 10 -11am

  • Check out  3 - 4pm 


Many people wait until the last minute to leave their cabins, so 11am may have heavier road traffic.

3.) Stay at a cabin or resort with an indoor pool or unique amenities. This can also keep you feeling happy and relaxed without the need for as much driving around. 

Check out these links:

Cabins with Indoor Pools

Cabins with Unique Features & Amenities

4.) You might consider staying in Wears Valley, a beautiful little town on the outskirts of Pigeon Forge, where there is slightly less traffic.

5.) Check out my Events Calendars so you will know when and where heavier traffic may be. 


Spring and Fall Rod Run Car Shows will have the heaviest Pigeon Forge Parkway traffic for those days, especially evenings.

6.) Arrive in Off Season

Off season is considered January, February and early March.  You will find it way less crowded during these months. 

Find out more about off season on my page here.

7.) Use the Gatlinburg ByPass

Put "Gatlinburg Bypass" into your GPS or Google Maps.  If you would like to bypass downtown traffic on your way to the The Great Smoky Mountain National Park or on your way to Pigeon Forge, it will save you a lot of time.

8.) Choose a Buffet Style Restaurant

For no waiting when you are hungry, try

  • Wood Grill Buffet 

  • Reagan's House of Pancakes breakfast buffet

  • Captain Jim's Seafood Buffet 

  • Song & Hearth at Dreammore Resort (open to the general public)

  • Golden Corral

9.) Word to the Wise

I strongly advise NOT letting GPS take you "the backroads".  Some mountain backroads can get pretty sketchy and many locals drive fast on these roads trying to get to work on time.  GPS can be unreliable, and you can also lose cell signal on some backroads.  Not good.

Get Ripley Attraction & Other Discount Tickets

Best Steakhouses Around the Smokies

Pet Friendly Cabins Near Dollywood

Famous Food of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge


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