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One Tank Trip for Tennessee Camping
Total mileage / average drive time:
67.8 miles – 1 hour, 40 minutes
As the country music capital of
the world and home to Graceland, Tennessee has no shortage of tourists who come to walk in the footsteps of “the King,” relive the glory days of the great Blues legends, and visit the Grand Ole Opry, whose stage has seen an impressive parade of country music performers in its 86 years. But beyond the glitz and glamour, you’ll find a lush landscape with the Appalachian Mountains dominating the eastern part of the state and the Mississippi River winding its way around the western border and making a little music of its own.
Your journey starts in Townsend, nestled at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. What Townsend lacks in population it easily makes up for in winsome beauty and access to the best outdoor activities the area has to offer. Tubing, kayaking, and horseback riding are aplenty; you might even get a little time in at the golf course if you plan your trip just right. If you’re o.k. with being in tight spaces, explore the Tuckaleechee Caverns where you can see beautiful and unusual formations of stalactites, which grow at a rate of about one cubic inch per every 100 years. Mix in a little culture during your stay with a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, which showcases several historic structures, concerts, galleries, events, and many artifacts, some which date back to 3,000 BC.
18 miles – 30 minutes
From Townsend head for Pigeon Forge, about 18 miles away. This city may have gotten its start as a humble little hamlet close to the Smoky Mountains, but today you’ll find it’s evolved into a mecca for family vacationers. You might as well give up sleeping if you want to indulge
in everything Pigeon Forge has to offer! The biggest draw to the area is the mega-theme park, Dollywood, with all the rides, music, and crafts we love. Adjacent to Dollywood is Splash Country, a great place to cool off in the summer heat and loaded with water-themed rides. Get some downtime from all those wet and wild rides at the Titanic Museum, one of the more popular destinations in Pigeon Forge. Walk the grand staircase of the Titanic, peruse rare artifacts, touch an “iceberg,” and listen to recordings of actual survivors as they retell their stories while you sit in a lifeboat. The museum does a fantastic job of bringing history to life and it’s definitely worth a visit before you head for your next vacation stop.
7 miles – 12 minutes
It’s a short seven-mile drive from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg — you could almost walk it! It’s no easy feat to appeal to a wide variety of travelers while maintaining a small town feel, but Gatlinburg has no trouble whatsoever in this department. Winter months bring out skiers in droves to take advantage of the fluffy white stuff on downhill trails while spring and summer are the perfect time to enjoy some 600 miles of hiking trails, do a little whitewater rafting, knock the ball around on the golf course, or get your fishing pole wet somewhere in the hundreds of miles of streams. Gatlinburg has been the heart of a burgeoning arts and crafts community for many years, and you’ll find hundreds of shops, studios, and galleries within an eight-mile-loop along Route 321 that you can choose to drive to or take an old fashioned trolley. Although a ground-level view of Gatlinburg’ reaps many rewards, to get a birds-eye view, take a ride on the Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Aerial Tramway and prepare to be wowed at the view from up there!
13 miles – 18 minutes
From Gatlinburg, head west as you backtrack a little for your 13-mile drive to Sevierville. For the adventurer, there’s nothing not to love about this destination. Whether you’re looking to raft, zipline, rockclimb, or do a little horseback riding, you’ll find that Sevierville stands ready to head you in the right direction. This town is widely known for its shopping boasting the largest authentic outlet center in the state! Galleries, antique malls, random unique boutiques galore, specialty stores, flea markets, and more. This is serious shopper stuff, so be careful you don’t pull a hamstring trying to cover the 120 stores that stand before you. Oh, and don’t worry, gentlemen...there’s a place for you, too! You can get lost in some of the mega-stores for the outdoorsman that should keep you busy for a few hours.
29.8 miles – 40 minutes
Now that you’ve got your holiday shopping done for, oh, the next six years or so, head for Knoxville, a 30-mile trip from Sevierville. Rich in history, Knoxville is home to seven historic homes that date back to the Civil War era and the First Frontier. As part of your tour through history, hop aboard the Three Rivers Rambler and take a 90-minute train ride through this charming city. Every train enthusiast will tell you that there is nothing quite like the sound of a steam engine as it chugs along the track. And before you run out of steam, head to the Mabry-Hazen House Museum and indulge in some more history. The house once served as the headquarters for both Union and Confederate forces and contains many beautiful original artifacts that provide visitors with a vivid view of the past.Whew! From great outdoor activities to incredible Civil War history, it looks like Tennessee has cornered the market on more than just country music...and for us adventurers, that’s music to our ears.
Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For Tennessee
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For Tennessee
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in Tennessee
Back to One Tank Trips for 2012