As Memorial Day weekend approaches, many families choose rental cabins in Pigeon Forge as a kickoff to their summer fun. Certainly the least desirable way to start your celebration is waiting in slow-moving traffic once you approach the Smokies! In years past, local rural infrastructure just could not support heavy vehicle volume. Improvements have been made, and some are still in progress. Here are three ideas to help you avoid spending too much time on the road with your vacationing peers.
1. Getting here: Plan your arrival time appropriately.
Sometimes it is best to “just say no”:
–Don’t arrive between 1 and 4 pm on Friday. The main artery into the county is via exit 407 from interstate I-40 (there are other routes, but that’s for another time). Highway 66 (Winfield Dunn Parkway) is now almost completely updated (6-lanes), except for the last bottleneck section of bridges being widened over the French Broad River as you approach Sevierville. Once you are past the bridge construction, now even high volumes of vehicles flow much more smoothly-a blessing for visitors and locals alike.
–Don’t visit on certain dates in the spring and fall. Even major holiday weekends are less busy than some calendar dates in April and autumn. Avoid spring dates for antique car show weekends that clog Pigeon Forge traffic. In the fall, consider University of Tennessee home football game weekends. Saturday game-day traffic adds 100,000+ fans to local Knoxville interstate flow, and many of those fans stay in the Smokies afterwards. Or just wear orange, and you will fit in well.
2. While visiting Pigeon Forge: Two roads you MUST learn to use while here.
–Use Veterans Boulevard (Hwy 449) when entering the county, to avoid congestion on the main artery 441 Parkway into Pigeon Forge. When you reach Sevierville from exit 407, turn left on Main Street (Hwy 411) and after 1.4 miles turn right onto Veterans Boulevard. The road passes Dollywood’s main entrance, and rejoins the Parkway at the Old Mill area in the heart of Pigeon Forge. There are several other intersections to this roadway that also return you to the Parkway. We are still amazed that more don’t choose this less congested route between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge during busy times.
–Use Teaster Lane while in Pigeon Forge as a parallel road to the main Parkway, with far fewer cars and traffic signals. This road intersects Veterans Boulevard previously mentioned, and also has multiple points from which to access the 441 Parkway.
Spending a few moments with Google Maps prior to your trip will make the wisdom of using these suggestions apparent. There are more shortcuts, of course, but save those curvy mountain passes for your next trip. Baby steps first!
3. Going home after a great weekend: Ignore your GPS, and take time to eat.
Unless your vehicle GPS has been updated in the past few years, it does not reflect improvements made in Sevierville to ease exit traffic on Sunday. Essentially, when you are returning to the interstate from Pigeon Forge through Sevierville, you “go home by another way”. Resist the temptation to listen to your older GPS (or Grandpa who has been here many times), and don’t turn left in Sevierville onto the old Forks of the River bypass. Just follow those big green signs, straight back to Highway 66 and Interstate 40 on the 6-lane. We regularly see confused folk still trying to use the narrower dated bypass, even cutting through downtown to attempt to reach it.
Timing your exit is also important. Leaving between noon and 2 pm on Sunday is the most popular window for visitors. So change your exit strategy: lunch leisurely with the locals, make that last purchase you are still pondering, and have a smoother transition to your back-home journey.
If you want more tips about maximizing your fun time while here, please don’t hesitate to ask us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals. We each have our personal favorites (shortcuts, restaurants, and the like), and will share them if asked. Have a great start to your summer, and plan to visit us soon!