Hello, Dolly! In Search of Adventure in Sevierville, Tennessee

I didn’t know much about Sevierville, Tennessee, until just a few weeks ago when I visited for the very first time — I didn’t know what a fun destination it is to visit, nor which adorable blonde country spitfire hails from within the city limits and sadly, or even how to pronounce it. Now having spent just a few days exploring the area, I’ve got suggestions for your vacation to Sevierville and the surrounding towns of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Driving toward the Smoky Mountains

Driving toward the Smoky Mountains

But first, it’s a good thing I’m friends with the famous Tennessean writer Kristin Luna, because the day before I was scheduled to travel to Sevierville for Travel Mindset, she informed me that I was pronouncing it all wrong, saving me some serious embarrassment at the rental car desk!

I would’ve said Sev-ee-yay-ville, but it’s actually Severe-vuhl, named for John Sevier, one of Tennessee’s founding fathers. For future reference, all –villes are actually –vuhls in Tennessee. Nash-vuhl, Knox-vuhl and of course, the adventure capital of the South, Sevier-vuhl.

And aren’t you curious which famous superstar is from Sevierville? I know you’re probably thinking it’s Kristin Luna, but there’s another famous blonde in these parts — the fabulous Dolly Parton, of course. Dolly attractions in the area include Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner show and the countryfied theme park Dollywood in neighboring Pigeon Forge. All on my list for the next visit!

Hiking on the Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking on the Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I made it to Laurel Falls! Before the rain drenched me.

I made it to Laurel Falls! Before the rain drenched me.

As you know, I am drawn to all things adventurous and outdoorsy, so during my visit I went on a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a gloomy, rainy morning, so I had to settle for a shorter hike than I would’ve liked.

Laurel Falls hiking selfie.

Laurel Falls hiking selfie.

Even still, the 2.6-mile Laurel Falls hike offered a big payoff with a gorgeous 80-ft. waterfall at the end. I didn’t see any bears, elk or deer, so I was a little disappointed, but I did see this bug.

IMG_8360

I loved just driving around the mountains, something I’m not usually onboard with. Windy mountain roads tend to make me carsick, but as the driver on my solo journey, I didn’t suffer nearly as much as I do when I’m the passenger.

IMG_8364The weather prevented me from exploring as much of the park as I would’ve liked, but it gave me just enough of a preview to know I need to come back when I have more time.

IMG_8359

As for adrenaline pumping adventures, I checked out two that I’ll definitely come back for with a group of friends. USA Raft in Franklin offers two options for rafting on the Pigeon River, the very easy Lower Pigeon section, which is doable for kids as young as 3, and the Upper Pigeon, a more extreme course of Class III and IV rapids.

White water selfie!

White water selfie!

I prioritized photos over adventure on this chilly morning, so I took the easy route, but I promised my guides that I’d round up an armada to hit up the big rapids later this summer.

My guides Larry & Ewok at USA Raft

My guides Larry & Ewok at USA Raft

One of the USA Raft guides is reality TV star, Ewok, from the History Channel show Appalachian Outlaws. He’s more than willing to sign autographs & pose for photos so if you’re a fan, you’ve got to come by and raft with Ewok.

Rafting on the Lower Pigeon River is definitely more relaxing than adventurous, but it's perfect for kids & those who don't want to get too wet.

Rafting on the Lower Pigeon River is definitely more relaxing than adventurous, but it’s perfect for kids & those who don’t want to get too wet.

The drive up to Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park is as scenic as it gets, with old barns and grazing livestock, green fields and the famous “smoke” dotting the mountaintops.

A broken down old barn

A broken down old barn

On one sharp curve in front of a weathered farmhouse, I slowed to a stop and rolled my window down to say hello to a Chihuahua and a bulldog, two adorable country pups frolicking in the road. (Yes, I stopped the car to talk to dogs.)

A beautiful church on the way to Foxfire Mountain

A beautiful church on the way to Foxfire Mountain

To my surprise, these weren’t friendly country dogs at all – they were sassy rednecks! The little scamps bit onto my front tire and wouldn’t let go. I had to honk and holler at them to escape. The encounter had me laughing all the way to Foxfire.

Welcome to Foxfire Mountain!

Welcome to Foxfire Mountain!

Up at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park, I was impressed by the grounds, 150-acres of woodlands with a river, America’s longest swinging bridge and an impressive 60-ft.-tall rock climbing wall.

 

How insane is this rock wall?

How insane is this rock wall?

I didn’t see the entrance to the zip-line course in my immediate surroundings, so I consulted the map. There were lines zig-zagging the property, but it looked like they were going from mountain to mountain. Surely that couldn’t be?

I heard a whizzing sound and looked up just in time to see a tiny person soaring over me – hundreds of feet up! This Mighty Goliath Zip Line Tour is no joke, y’all. At 2,230 feet long and 475 feet high, the five zip-lines are ideal for adrenaline junkies and people who just want to see if they have what it takes to step off that tree-top platform. It’s intense!

DCIM355GOPRO

Even with inclement weather during my trip, Sevierville really surprised me with so many choices for adventure activities.

So what did I learn from this adventure? 

  1. Dolly Parton is the bee’s knees.
  2. Sevierville is within a day’s driving distance of the whole East Coast of the U.S.
  3. Bring friends on the next visit to tackle the Upper Pigeon & Goliath zip-line.
  4. Watch out for deceptively cute country dogs.

This post was written in partnership with Travel Mindset. I was compensated for my time & expenses. All opinions are, as always, my own. 

COME AWAY WITH ME!
Get exclusive updates with all the latest news and posts delivered directly to your inbox
  • May 05, 2015

    Wow, what a fun time! The hike sounds great and so does the white water rafting! We’ll be heading through Tennessee this summer to check out an animal rescue and I think we’ve just added this to our Tennessee bucket list. 🙂
    Ligeia and Mindy recently posted..Finding Shifen FallsMy Profile

  • May 06, 2015
    Mom

    Sounds like fun. I hope I’m included in the armada!?!?

  • May 06, 2015
    Dina

    Great read (and pronunciation lesson)! I love the mountains of Tennessee… and your picture of the old barn is seriously breath-taking!

  • May 06, 2015

    Oh man, Dixie Stampede brings back serious Myrtle Beach memories for me! I think these days the adventure stuff would be more up my alley 🙂 I’d go rafting with you!

  • May 06, 2015

    Looooooove white water rafting! We experienced it in Nepal.
    And Dolly Parton is indeed the Bees Knees. Jolene is such a great song!

  • May 07, 2015

    Ahhh, Sevierville looks so cool!!! I’ve only bopped through the state, never have actually experienced any of its attractions. I have wanted to hit Nashville for a long time, but now this gorgeous slice of nature is on my list, too!
    Diana Edelman recently posted..Where mod meets pop culture: Brighton’s Hotel PeliroccoMy Profile

  • May 28, 2015

    haha you’re the cutest! I still can’t believe you were in my state and I didn’t get to see yoU!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..5 Things I’m Loving About Nashville NowMy Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge