AAA Travel Tips / How to Plan the Perfect Pet-Friendly Gatlinburg Getaway

How to Plan the Perfect Pet-Friendly Gatlinburg Getaway
By AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
June 01, 2022
The mountain town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, lies just outside the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it a convenient home base for exploring the national park and its surrounds. But if your travels include your pet, too, it’s important to take note of the rules and regulations that apply to you and your furry friend.
If you’re thinking about bringing your pet along on a vacation to Gatlinburg, do a little advance planning to be sure that everyone has a good time—pets included. Here are a few of our best tips for a dog-friendly Gatlinburg getaway.
Courtesy of Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa

Book a pet-approved place to stay

Many people traveling with pets opt to stay in Gatlinburg's pet-friendly cabins or rental condominiums around Great Smoky Mountain National Park. But if you’d prefer to have more amenities on site, choose from one of the pet-friendly hotels in Gatlinburg. The Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Waterpark offers cabin-style villas with as many as five bedrooms, plus an indoor/outdoor water park and mini golf. The resort charges a $100 pet fee, so you’ll want to check the resort’s breed and weight restrictions before booking.
Closer to the north entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is The Park Vista-a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Gatlinburg, which offers a tropical indoor pool with a waterslide and an outdoor firepit area. The hotel charges a daily fee of $35 per pet and allows up to two pets per room. If you need to go out without your pet for any reason, the hotel allows you to leave your pet unattended in your room as long as they’re in a crate.
Gatlinburg Skybridge/Marcus Watson

Check out spectacular views at SkyLift Park

Dogs are allowed (and free!) at Gatlinburg Sky Lift Park, one of the top pet-friendly things to do in Gatlinburg. Your leashed, well-behaved dog can ride with you on the yellow SkyLift cable chairs, which take you from downtown Gatlinburg’s main street, across a river, and up the steep incline of 2,300-foot Crocket Mountain.
Once at the top of the mountain, you and your dog can explore the SkyTrail (just over a half-mile roundtrip) and even cross the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, said to be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Hopefully you and your pet aren’t afraid of heights, as the center of the SkyBridge features a 30-foot section of glass panels revealing the scenic valley below.

Reward good behavior with a treat

Take a break from sightseeing to reward your pet’s good behavior. Mad Dog’s Creamery (731 East Parkway) is a pet-approved place with a menu of dog donuts and toys. Picnic tables and water bowls make it easy to sit and stay awhile.

Roll the windows down on a scenic drive

What dog doesn’t enjoy a car ride with the windows rolled down? You can admire the scenery, too, on a scenic drive around Gatlinburg. From the downtown Parkway, head south on Cherokee Orchard Road to reach the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 5.5-mile loop offers views of mountain streams, wildflowers, log cabins and other historic buildings.
Keep in mind that the road is closed in winter, and buses, trailers and motor homes are not permitted. You should always keep your pet suitably harnessed or restrained on any road trip so that they’re not a distraction (meaning no dog in your lap). Please don’t leave your pet unattended in any vehicle while in the park; it’s a park rule.
flickr/Ken Lund

Set out on a walking trail

Gatlinburg is just a few minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but not all areas within the park are pet-friendly. Only one trail near the Gatlinburg entrance permits leashed dogs: the Gatlinburg Trail.
The 3.8-mile roundtrip journey begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and follows the west prong of the Little Pigeon River through the woods. You’ll see the foundations of old home sites along the trail. Remember to pick up all pet waste and dispose of it in designated bins to keep the trail in good condition for all visitors.
Another place to take dogs in the great outdoors is Mills Park (309 Mills Park Rd.), where you’ll find a walking trail, picnic tables, restrooms and a dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs.
AAA/Sherry Mims

Shop for local goods downtown

Wander Gatlinburg’s downtown main street with your pet to find all sorts of fun shops and souvenirs. Distilleries are a big thing in town, and two of the most popular ones allow leashed pets on the premises: Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery (903 Parkway) and Sugarlands Distilling Company (805 Parkway). You'll find cute dog clothing and gifts at Bonediggity Barkery (in The Village Shops at 634 Parkway). Paws & Claws Pet Fashion (611 Parkway) is another fun Gatlinburg pet store.

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