Are you looking for the perfect outdoor vacation destination? Consider planning a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Not only is Pigeon Forge the perfect base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, but it also has a charming personality all its own. And yes, the small-town vibes are pretty strong in Pigeon Forge.
Pigeon Forge offers activities for all kinds of outdoor lovers, whether you want to relax in nature or you’re looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure.
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Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge is a year-round family destination. As an outdoors lover, you will likely enjoy your visit in spring, summer, or fall, however. That’s not to say you won’t find anything to do in the winter, but your options WILL be more limited.
So what are the best things to do in Pigeon Forge for outdoor lovers? Let’s get into it!
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Whitewater Rafting in the Smokies
Let’s start off with a crowd favorite: whitewater rafting. This is the perfect activity for those of you looking to kick off your trip to Pigeon Forge with a bit of excitement.
Pigeon River, the most-rafted river in America, boasts dozens of class III and IV rapids for you and your travel buddies to traverse. With names like Accelerator and Roller Coaster, this is an outdoor adventure you won’t want to miss.
If you’re traveling with kids or you’re simply looking for a more relaxing float, you can also opt for gentler rapids that are more scenic. You can find guided tours for extreme adventures as well as for family-friendly floats.
Guided tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The main reason why so many people visit Pigeon Forge is because it’s a convenient base for visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Home to amazing views and incredible hiking, including the famous Appalachian Trail, you should explore as much of the park as you can.
You’ll enjoy streams, rivers, waterfalls, wildflowers, and more. A highlight you won’t want to miss is the observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome. This is the highest peak in the mountain range standing at 6643 feet above sea level, so don’t forget your camera.
We get it – choosing what to do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be overwhelming. It’s huge and packed full of things to see and do. If you’re unsure where to start, many guided tours are available. If you’re looking for a quick ride and are not much of a hiker you can opt for one of the Jeep tours.
Dolly Parton fan or not, a trip to Dollywood is one of the best ways to enjoy a day outside in Pigeon Forge. This amusement park and entertainment complex covers almost 300 acres and is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the state of Tennessee.
Boasting over 40 rides and attractions, here you’ll find roller coasters, tilt-a-whirls, and more. There’s also a waterpark, a resort overlooking the Smokies, and plenty of shops and dining opportunities onsite. In fact, Dollywood is so big that you’ll have to board a full-size steam train to get from place to place.
And, of course, it can’t be owned by Dolly Parton without having plenty of venues where you can enjoy some spectacular country music performances.
Lumberjack Feud Show & Adventure Park
Another attraction owned by a celebrity, Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show & Adventure Park is a unique experience only to be found in Pigeon Forge.
The 1.5-hour feud show is not to be missed, as hilarity ensues from start to finish. This family-friendly performance features lumberjacks competing in a number of different tasks including log-rolling, chopping, sawing, and more.
Afterward, head over to the adventure park where you can enjoy a ropes course, ziplines, freefall jumps, and even compete in your own lumberjack contest. Book your full-day ticket in advance as sometimes it sells out.
Visit Old Mill Square
If you’re looking to explore the history of Pigeon Forge during your trip, you’ll want to head to Old Mill Square. Pigeon Forge was established in the late 1700s, and Old Mill Square was built to look like it did when the first settlers arrived.
The centerpiece of the square is a large 200-year-old wooden gristmill. Lining the square are dozens of quaint shops and restaurants, but you’ll notice something unique: there are no digital signs. The establishments are all located in preserved colonial buildings. You will truly feel the Southern hospitality as you explore the square, from the ice cream shops to the potters working on their crafts.
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
If you’re looking for a completely new way to go sightseeing in the Smoky Mountains, this is it. The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is not only the longest of its kind in the country, stretching for a mile, but it was also the first. It’s been a fan favorite ever since it opened in 2013.
Each sled can accommodate 1 or 2 passengers, and the best part is that you control the speed. The coaster can reach up to 27 miles per hour, but it can feel like you’re going much faster as you zip down the mountain. Offering views that aren’t accessible via a hike, this is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Tour the Forbidden Caverns
You may not know this, but Tennessee is home to more caves than any other state. The Forbidden Caverns are just the tip of the iceberg. Located just a short drive from Pigeon Forge in Sevierville, you won’t want to miss this unique attraction.
Located underneath the Smoky Mountains, you can see beautiful formations such as stalagmites, underground steam, and more. The best part is that regardless of the temperature outside, the caves hover around 60 degrees, so it’s a great way to escape the summer heat.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
If you’re looking for a free activity for outdoor lovers in Pigeon Forge, just head a few miles south to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. There is no charge to hike or drive along the trail – you will only need to pay for parking.
When you explore this 5-mile trail, you’ll wind through towering trees, gorgeous waterfalls, and more. And the best part is, you can stop your car at any point along the trail to get out and look around.
One particular point of interest is Rainbow Falls, a waterfall accessible only after a fairly long hike. Another is the Place of a Thousand Drips, a low waterfall glittering over the side of a beautiful rock formation. There are also Jeep tours of this motor trail available if you’re not sure how to get to the highlights yourself.
Visit The Island
One of the most popular attractions within the city of Pigeon Forge, The Island, as you’ve probably guessed, isn’t actually an island. It’s an area of the city that is surprisingly modern for a town so steeped in historic Appalachian culture.
The centerpiece of this area is a fountain with colored lights. This busy section of town is lined with games, shops, restaurants, and more. The highlight, however, is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. Take a ride on this huge Ferris wheel to access incredible views not only of Pigeon Forge itself, but also of the surrounding mountain landscape.
The Island is also home to a ropes course, an escape game, and several other unique attractions, so everyone in the family will love it.
Zipline through the mountains
Another unique attraction within the mountains, get your heart rate up while you take in the scenery from a zipline. You can choose from several different ziplines covering over 400 acres of land within the mountain range.
You’ll zip through the tree canopies at up to 50 miles per hour at 500 feet above ground. You’ll also traverse rope bridges in case you need a short break from the rush of the zipline. The only way to access the zip lines is, of course, via guided tour, so check them out here.
Take a helicopter tour
Another unique vantage point to see Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains is from above in a helicopter. As you can imagine, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is full of incredible scenery and landmarks that aren’t directly accessible from Pigeon Forge itself. That means the best and quickest way to see them is from the air above.
You can choose from several helicopter tours, whether you want to see Gatlinburg, French Broad River, Douglas Lake, Pine Mountain, or Wears Valley. The options are endless, so check out the various helicopter tours you can choose from.
Soaky Mountain Waterpark
If you’re looking for a way to escape the summer heat, head to the wonderfully punny Soaky Mountain Waterpark. Full of thrilling waterslides, including The Edge Dueling Water Coaster, as well as family-friendly water rides, this waterpark has something people of all ages will love.
Along with the water rides and pools, Soaky Mountain also features live music performances from renowned local musicians. You can check the event calendar on their website to find out who will be playing during your visit. You’ll also find plenty of dining opportunities and shops within the park.
Outdoor Gravity Park
This outdoor adventure park is one of the only places in the state of Tennessee where you can go zorbing. Zorbing is, in fact, the main attraction of this park.
You’ll climb into an 11-foot-tall inflatable ball with up to 2 other people and roll down whichever track of terrain you choose. There are three types, each offering a unique experience. Choose between an extreme zig zag, a fast track straight shot down the hill, or a funnel which is the best of both worlds. No matter what you choose, it’s hard to go wrong. This is a crowd favorite in Pigeon Forge as it provides hours of laughter and fun.
If you’re looking for a reason to head indoors on a rainy day, visit the Titanic Museum. Sure, we’ve all seen the movie, but do you know anything about the actual historical event?
The museum itself is a half-scale detailed replica of the ship with the bow resting in a water fountain. Once you step aboard, you’ll explore artifacts such as telescopes and life jackets, and even get to touch an iceberg. If you’ve ever been curious about it, this is the perfect place to get a taste of what life on the doomed ship was like.
Book your ticket in advance to take a self-guided tour of all decks of the ship, from the grand staircase to the parlors and staterooms.
Pigeon Forge Snow
No matter what time of year you are visiting Pigeon Forge, you’ll always have access to Pigeon Forge Snow. The only indoor snow park in the area, this is perfect for winter sports lovers even during summer.
Featuring a series of slopes where you can go snow tubing, this can be as adrenaline-fueled as you make it. If you’re not much of a tuber, there’s also a free play area where you can build snowmen or have a snowball fight.
Worried about dressing for the cold? No need – it’s always 60 degrees and yet the artificial snow never melts, so it’s the best of both worlds as a simulated outdoor activity.
There you have it: the best things to do in Pigeon Forge for outdoor lovers. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more attractions dotted around the city and the surrounding areas. Pigeon Forge is the gateway to some incredible nature, so be sure you don’t miss out. Happy travels!