The most visited National Park in the United States is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, this park is partially popular because of being near several large urban areas. It is also a free entry park, which while common for some NPS sites, it is a rarity for an actual National Park. While these are great reasons for GSMNP to be so popular, the biggest reason for attracting so many visitors is how beautiful the area is.
As beautiful as the area is, I had no clue what we were in for as we approached the park. Our entry gate was just past Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If you haven’t been there, I don’t know if I can adequately explain how gosh-awful tacky the city is. There are attractions upon attractions upon freaking attractions. They aren’t good attractions either. They are the kind of tourist traps thought up to squeeze every last dollar available from a visitor while giving them subpar food and entertainment. There’s absolutely no point for Pigeon Forge to exist in its current state.
Luckily, we went on in the park and spent a few days. Loved it! Then we came out on the North Carolina side. Night and day difference from the horrible Pigeon Forge. Next time we visit, we’ll fly into North Carolina and skip the Tennessee side entirely.