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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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?
- Dolly Parton is the bee’s knees.
- Sevierville is within a day’s driving distance of the whole East Coast of the U.S.
- Bring friends on the next visit to tackle the Upper Pigeon & Goliath zip-line.
- 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.