If you’re in town visiting for a holiday or staying in a cabin in the mountains, you may have to drive into town in order to experience Gatlinburg. I have read many comments on forums detailing the nightmarish traffic in the Burg on a weekly basis. I also see that many people are just befuddled or exasperated at the experience of finding parking in town. I don’t have all the answers for every circumstance, but I may be able to alleviate some of the stress involved with this adventure.
First of all, I want to let you all know that there is an abundance of parking in and around Gatlinburg. The Gatlinburg website found here says that there are more than 17 lots available downtown for your convenience. Some are covered garages but most are open air lots that are normally a bit cheaper. They range in price from free (that’s right, FREE!) to $10, but most generally top out at $8.
I won’t list all the lots but I will discuss what I’ve learned just from experience for when we had to travel into town from a cabin rental. If you want to go for the gold and get yourself a free parking space, River Road just past the Aquarium has first come, first serve free parking all along the side of the road. Caution: You need to get into town early enough to get these, and they do go fast. I would say if you’re in town by 9 in the morning, you should easily be able to get a spot, otherwise you can try to see if someone is pulling out if you arrive later in the day.
Your next option should be the McMahan Parking Garage located at light #3 in town. This is a regular covered garage with hourly and daily rates that top out at $8 a day, I believe. We used this garage the first time we drove into town, and since it was hot, we were thankful we chose this space. Again, this may fill up if you don’t arrive in the morning.
Now if you do arrive in the afternoon during the week and maybe during the weekends, as long as it’s not a holiday, you should have no problems finding a spot down Historic Nature Trail (light #8). These lots are $8 per day and located down from the Space Needle. They are open air lots, but I walked down this way during two different times of the day, and found that there were an abundance of spaces available.
If you don’t mind weaving through some people and are looking at eating at Calhoun’s, Smoky Mountain Brewery, or Cherokee Grill, you can drive into Calhoun’s Village. There is a large parking lot in the back where you can get free parking as long as you have a receipt from one of those fine establishments (some of the best in town in my opinion).
My last bit of advice in regards to parking in town is the common sense approach. I recently had a friend from work travel here on vacation. He was leaving their parking spot downtown and went down a side road in the middle of the day with no stop light. Big mistake. Make sure you go to any of the lights in town, or else you will be at the mercy of a small group of people to stop and let you through, all while making sure traffic is all clear. This is a nightmare situation I have seen many times that I don’t want to see anyone have to experience.
I hope that I have eased some of your fears and hesitancy about parking in Gatlinburg. I feel like I have a decent enough grasp of this situation to educate the novice based upon my own experiences. Thank you for reading and you can find more tips on Gatlinburg related things if you delve deeper into my blog.