Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Recreational and Historic Attractions

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Pigeon Forge History & Attractions

The Smoky Mountain region of East Tennessee is world-renowned for its magnificent mountain scenery. A portion of it includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - one of the country's most treasured natural habitats. Each year, over 13 million visitors make their way to East Tennessee to experience the national park, its surrounding towns, and attractions. One of the most frequented towns in the region is Pigeon Forge - a hotbed for tourists because of its numerous recreational opportunities as well as shopping outlets. Once just a small lumber town, Pigeon Forge has grown into a destination for travelers across the globe. Tourism drives the economy in Pigeon Forge. This is evident by the city's many live entertainment theatres, Dollywood, as well as the numerous retail shopping centers and restaurants that have come to align the parkway. And the numerous Smoky Mountain cabins that surround Pigeon Forge serve as a great lodging opportunity for out of town visitors.


Pigeon Forge circa early 1900's wasn't much more than a dot on the map if you were looking at an atlas. If you were here you were likely just passing through on there way to the Carolinas, following old Indian trails alongside the Little Pigeon River. The name Pigeon Forge actually came about due to the number of pigeons that populated the area at the time. As for the "forge" part, that can be traced back to the iron forge that Isaac Love, an early Smoky Mountain settler, built here around 1820. Still, it wasn't an overnight boom, it took awhile for Pigeon Forge to become the bustling vacation town it is today. Back then, Pigeon Forge's entire population was made up of lumber and other industry workers. It took an official designation of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Pigeon Forge to take off and literally transform into a tourist destination.


Last checked, Pigeon Forge's population is about 4,000 residents. Which means, many of the people you see shopping the outlet malls or walking the Parkway are here vacationing. Soon after the recognition of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, city planners began the process of transforming the area from a pass-by town into a world-class destination city, filled with live entertainment theatres, shops, theme-parks, and restaurants for Great Smoky Mountain National Park visitors to enjoy. Today, it's America's most visited national park; and Pigeon Forge, as well as Gatlinburg and Sevierville, is now just as much of a draw as the park itself.


Pigeon Forge is the sprawling vacation destination that it is today due to a variety of factors. The city's broad appeal is attributed to its theme-park attractions like Dollywood and other live theatre attractions such as the Comedy Barn, and a diverse offering of museums and historical centers. Pigeon Forge is also known for such tourist stops that feature bumper boats rides, go-carts, miniature golf courses, thrilling water rides, laser game centers, awe-inspiring stunt shows, and "you won't believe your eyes" illusion demonstrations. Lately, visitors have sought out the newer more outdoor-related businesses that provide white-water rafting trips and indoor skydiving simulators.


Pigeon Forge's world-renowned theatre district is one thing that makes it stand out as a travel destination. To say that Pigeon Forge is a true Mecca of live theatrical entertainment might be overdoing it, but for Smoky Mountain vacationers Pigeon Forge is just that. In addition to some of the theaters mentioned earlier, like the Country Tonite Theater and the Comedy Barn, guests can take in a show at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show, the Smith Family Theatre, the Smoky Mountain Jubilee, the Triumphant Quartet, the Tennessee Shindig, the Black Bear Jamboree, and Terry Evanswood's Grand Illusion Show at WonderWorks. As you can see, the theatrical appeal of Pigeon Forge has as much to do with the diversity of its live entertainment as it has to do with its quality. Whether it's a dinner theatre, magic shows, a comedy show, musical acts, or a dancing show, they all boost the appeal to Pigeon Forge's thriving theatre district.


For all of Pigeon Forge, what it is and what it has become, Dollywood, the fun-filled, family-friendly theme park named after Dolly Parton, is the crown jewel. Made up of a broad collection of rides and attractions designed to keep both young and old entertained for days on end, Dollywood attracts visitors from across the world to its theme park as well as its water park. The Dollywood theme park features rides and roller coasters such as the Thunderhead, Skyrider, Tennessee Tornado, Shooting Star, and the brand-new Timber Tower. Dollywood's Splash Country water park features more than 23 water adventure slides and thrill rides including the Big Bear Plunge, Slidewinder, Soaker Springs, the Smoky Mountain River Rampage, Daredevil Falls, and the Mountain Twist Slide.


The Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure Tour and the Dreamland Forest Treehouse are a few of the other attractions families can experience at Dollywood. Seasonal festivals and events such as the Festival of Nations - a summertime celebration offering ethnic foods and entertainment from around the globe, are also a Dollywood staple.


And while it may very well be Pigeon Forge's most reknowned theme park, it's far from the only one. Other top theme parks in Pigeon Forge include: the Skyscraper, Bluff Mountain Adventure, Laserport, and Ultrazone. If a few laps around the track are more to your liking, the Smoky Mountain Speed Park, Wild Wheels Speedway, the Smoky Mountain Slick Track, Speedzone Funpark, Adventure Speedway and Fast Tracks are located throughout town if speed is what's on your mind. For the younger crowd not quite ready to take the wheel, the Dollywood Express, the Rockin' Roadway and the VeggieTales Sideshow Spin are all viable options.


There is nothing that beats a stay in one of the many Smoky Mountain cabins found outside cities like Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Most of these Smoky Mountain Cabins, or Chalets, come equipped with luxurious kitchens and furnishings, spacious rooms, and unparalleled views and access to the surrounding Smoky Mountain wilderness. Guests can hike the mountain trails in the morning, shop Pigeon Forge in the afternoon, and return home to an equisite alpine cabin rental at night. On top of that, take in the Smoky Mountains while relaxing in your deck-side hot-tub while sipping on a glass of wine - a perfect way to cap off a day in the Smokies.


Humble beginnings is one way to characterize Pigeon Forge's history. What has emerged in recent decades is a premier East Coast vacation destination. Whether it's theme parks and thrill rides, live entertainment theatres and variety shows, or family friendly recreation, Pigeon Forge is a city filled with as much to do as there are visitors to enjoy the attractions. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park may have served as the original calling card for the region, but since the inception of the Park, Pigeon Forge has grown to become a world-class resort city that attracts millions of vacationers in its own right.