Smoky Mountains

Where in Tennessee Are the Smoky Mountains?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States, sits on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

The park is in East Tennessee about an hour southeast of Knoxville. The closest (and most well-known) town is Gatlinburg, which is only one mile outside the national park. Gatlinburg is one of our favorite and most recommended towns, and we spend a lot of time here each year!

Downtown Gatlinburg Tennessee

Pigeon Forge is only 8 miles from the National Park, and you drive through Gatlinburg to get there.

The Island In Pigeon Forge

Townsend is a quieter town, that’s only three miles from one of other entrances. It’s one of our favorite towns to escape the crowds of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Location and Geography

Straddling two states, the park is accessible from Tennessee and North Carolina. Great Smoky covers over 800 square miles or more than 500,000 acres.

Closest Cities

The closest city, if you’re looking for somewhere to visit on vacation, is Gatlinburg. That’s followed by Pigeon Forge, which has plenty to do and is about 20 minutes north of Gatlinburg. We live close to both, and either is a great vacation choice. The closest large cities are:

  • Knoxville, Tennessee: 50 miles (about 1 hour)
  • Asheville, North Carolina: 60 miles (about 1 hour 15 minutes)
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: 150 miles (about 2 hours 30 minutes)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: 195 miles (about 3 hours 15 minutes)
  • Atlanta, Georgia: 200 miles (about 3 hours 30 minutes)

The closest airport is Knoxville, but many others are within several hours drive.

One of the reasons this national park is so popular is it’s within a day’s driving time of more than half the United States population, making it easy to get to.

Appalachian Mountains vs. Smoky Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains span Newfoundland to Alabama, encompassing diverse landscapes, including the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smokies are a distinct part of the Appalachian mountains.

Blue Ridge Mountains vs. Smoky Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smoky Mountains are distinct parts of the Appalachian Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains, stretching from Pennsylvania to Georgia, are known for their bluish color and scenic parkway.

Useful Resources

For families planning a visit, integrating experiences found in the park with surrounding attractions can enrich your trip. Here are some helpful links from our site:


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a rich tapestry of natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural history, making it a treasured destination for families.

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