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Learn about Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains by reading Pigeon Forge and Great Smokies by Charlie Spence, IFA Member and Aviation Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting there, objective information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!

Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokies

by Charlie Spence, Aviation Writer and IFA Member

smokies
The area is the gateway to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Anytime is the right time to fly into the Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee, but autumn offers the added benefit of flying over the Great Smokey Mountains foliage ablaze in the golds, browns, and yellows from nature's palette. The Great Smokey Mountain National Park is the most heavily visited National Park in the nation, attracting more than 10 million persons a year, and you will see why when you make this one of your flying destinations.

The park is just one reason for flying in to the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge airport. Nestled in the foothills of the Smokies, this area of Eastern Tennessee is good down-home America country with antiques, crafts, shopping, live music stage shows, and more.

Before leaving the airport you will want to visit the new Tennessee Museum of Aviation. In addition to an ever-changing fleet of about 20 aircraft, the museum features a comprehensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia. You will see miniature models of nine aircraft the Wright brothers built during the first decade of flight, a 52-foot wall with three tiers depicting the timeline of significant milestones in aviation history, and Tennessee's Aviation Hall of Fame. Most of the museum's aircraft are flyable and if you are there at the right time you will witness an impromptu flight demonstration. Children will enjoy learning what makes an airplane fly and taking the controls in 'virtual flight.'

The tri-town area of Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge treats you to a variety of attractions. These range from hundreds of exhibits from the Guiness Book of Records, and water rides, to first rate musical stage attractions. In Pigeon Forge, you will have a choice of more than 50 attractions lining the parkway. Choose from such shows as Louise Mandrell Theater, Dixie Stampede, Smokey Mountain Jubilee and others.

oldmill
The old mill was the first business in Pigeon Forge
and still grinds flour and cornmeal for local use

Nearby, Dolly Parton's DollyWood amusement park offers thrill rides, wet rides, family rides, and children's rides. You will want to spend a lot of time at the attractions that include Dolly's Rags to Riches Story, Calico Falls Schoolhouse, and Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. Before taking off from home, be sure to request the special discount coupons for DollyWood that are available to you as an IFA member (http://www.iflyamerica.org).

Just when you think you've seen and done it all, move over to Gatlinburg for rip roaring adventures like water rafting 6 - miles down the Big Pigeon River, or riding the 120-passenger aerial tramway that departs from Downtown Gatlinburg for the ski resort and amusement park. You have never really played miniature golf until you ride the incline 300 feet up and struggle through 18 holes of the challenging mountaineer hazards of Hillbilly Golf.

Try to spend more than just a weekend. You still have Sevierville to enjoy. This picturesque town will entertain you with its fishing holes, nature trails, museums, golf courses, festivals and special events. Ooh and aah over the more than 90 classic cars in the Muscle Car Museum and go to the NASCAR Speedpark and race against champions of NASCAR.

shopping
Shopping in the area offers 200 outlet stores plus
craft shops and others with a Smokey Mountain flair

Throughout all the area you will find fascinating shops for mountain crafts, flea markets, or the latest styles. Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Center alone offers 88 name brand outlets.

Details

How to get there

The Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport is just 17 miles out on the 102-degree radial from the Volunteer VOR. This is Victor 138 airway so be alert for traffic. The VOR/DME or GPS approach is also on this radial with minimum of 3,000 feet from the VORTAC to within 5.6 miles of the airport, which is at 1,014 elevation. There is no landing fee but a $5 overnight tie-down charge. Airport is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Pilot controlled lights.

Where to stay

Pick any location in this area and you have dozens of places to choose from - bed and breakfasts, low-cost motels, resort hotels, rustic cabins. In Sevierville, for instance, Best Western offers rooms from $29.95 to $34.95, depending on the season. At Hidden Mountain Resorts, a room goes for $105 to $125; villas start at $145 for two bedrooms up to $650 for nine bedrooms. Also, Holiday Inn, Super 8, Hampton Inn, Sleep Inn, and Comfort Inns are just a few of the choices you have in this busy vacation site. Check out the discounts IFA has negotiated for its members a number of hotels at www.iflyamerica.org.

Where to eat

Pigeon Forge alone offers 90 restaurants where you can dine on down-home southern cuisine, dine and see a show, or peruse the music memorabilia on the walls. In Sevierville, complete dinners at the Five Oaks Steakhouse range from $18 to $28. Buddy's Bar-b-q has prize-winning barbeque sandwiches for about $2.20 and dinners starting at $8.50. Also local outlets of national restaurants like I-Hop, TGI Fridays, and Shoney's are available.

What to do

The area abounds with museums, attractions, and activities in addition to Dollywood. Some are free. Here's a sampling of others: Forbidden Caverns: Adults $8, children $4. Louise Mandrell Show: $23.10. Comedy Barn Theater: $15.00. Ober Gatlinburg Tramway: $7.00.

Notice: This information is current as of April 2002. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine any changes to the information.