Feb 14 2006
11:37 am

According to this WBIR special report, National Geographic Traveler magazine had a harsh assessment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Three-hundred experts graded the condition of 55 North American national parks and the cities that surround them. Problems like traffic, haze and invasive species landed the Smokies in the "Rock Bottom" category.

WBIR got reaction from the Pigeon Forge director of tourism, and he makes some good points in rebuttal but agrees the issues are valid and worthy of discussion.

Here's the National Geographic Traveler article with their rankings. The Smoky Mountains were ranked next to last, with special mention of the gateway towns around the park and their "theme parks, outlets, and billboards." Maybe they were referring to this.

Justin's picture

I agree 100% with them. Our

I agree 100% with them. Our "mountains" have become Tennessee's version of  Myrtle Beach aka: Redneck Riviera.
F-Stop's picture

I agree 100% with them. Our

I agree 100% with them. Our "mountains" have become Tennessee's version of Myrtle Beach aka: Redneck Riviera.

Exactly. I think my sister observed a few years back that they were no fewer than 13 eating establishments dedicated to Pancakes or Catfish, and sometimes both!

And it seems to be really popular with the airbrushing-Jesus-riding-a-bucking- Rottweiler-tellin'-you-to-'Git-R-Dun' set, as well as the tuner car crowd. The mountains are beautiful though!

Andy Axel's picture

Pick A Better Route

If I can at all avoid going through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, I do. I much prefer entering the park through Townsend.

There is something to be said for "the quiet side of the Smokies."

I did manage to get over to Cherokee, NC for the first time in a long time last year, though. I remember the corridor along US-441 being much more bustling than it is now (and the last time I'd been there was in my early teens), but I reckon that was before gambling came to the area. It pretty much decimated the Mom-n-Pop souvenir stores along the way.

NG is dead-on about Rocky Mountain National Park, too -- although Estes is nowhere near what Gatlinburg is in terms of Dixie Stampede/LazerTag/Cable Guy Americana.


If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

Nightwalker's picture

No sweat!

For a much better view, try entering the park on foot, via Fontana. You'll avoid all the nasty "eye-candy."

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