At the end of April this Year, my best friend Josh, and I headed from southern Wisconsin to Pigeon Forge at the mouth of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing adventure with my best bud and was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. We enjoyed daily sightseeing around the Smokies, tasting new food, cooking outdoors, late night swims and lot of hot tubs! Below is a collection of my favorite highlights from the trip and at the bottom of the post, find my short directions from Wisconsin as well as a funny list of things I did not want to forget to bring along!
Louisville and Pigeon Forge here we come!
We arrived in Louisville, KY! We lucked out and found an indoor overnight public parking garage across the street from our Airbnb, checked in, wondered down the first alley which had overhead string lights and colorful graffiti that brought us to t Black Jockey’s Lounge where we enjoyed dinner with amazing new company and some bourbon and live music!
The 2nd roadtrip day, we drove 5 hours from Louisville, KY to Pigeon Forge, TN and checked into our timeshare. Upon arrival, we napped until midnight and recouped from our fun night before! Day 3, we woke and spent the rest of the week exploring Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains National Park! Did you know, the Smokey Mountains NP is unique in that it’s the only National Park with free entrance fees!
Pigeon Forge, TN to Lafayette, IN to Wisconsin
On the way home, we traveled from Pigeon Forge to Lafayette, Indiana, hometown of Purdue University, engineering mega-school! We loved our Airbnb in downtown Lafayette, which was a few blocks from fun pubs and fancy dark bars with friendly bartenders.
PIGEON FORGE DIRECTIONS (Wisconsin to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
Mineral Point to Gratiot = WI-23 south to WI-11
Gratiot = WI-11 east to HWY 78 South
78 south to 20 EAST
20 East to US 39/51 (rockford)
39/51 south to Bloomington, IL 55/74
74 east to US-465 Indianapolis
US-465 to US-65 south
65 south to LOUISVILLE
***DAY 2 From Louisville**
US-64 to US-75 at Lexington, KY
US-75 south to US-40 in Knoxville, TN
US=40 to TN-66
66 to 2813 Rolling Hills Drive Pigeon Forge (Mountain Meadows Resort)
Road trip packing
Josh and I traveled in my 2008 Honda Ridgeline (200k miles on the odometer!) and here’s some of the supplied I brought…
– boombox tattoo artwork
– Pack cooler
– Beer in garage
– frisbee & yo ring
– flat top grill
– *Bacon, eggs, cheese & bread and oil (for airbnb & on the road)
– small gas grill (for picnic grilling at a park in the smokies)
– coffee & **creamer
– %%laundry detergent
– SWIM SUITS
– %%Beach towels
– ##bug spray
– ##sun screen
– ##wide brimmed hat and *ball cap
– flip flops and crocs
– spare keys
– backpack for hiking
– Check windshield wiper fluid
– travel neck pillow
– ##Kleenex for the truck
– sparkling waters for the truckill
– snacks: crackers, ##cheese, ##meat sticks/summer sausage, ##almonds
– small cooler for the truck
– cash for tolls
– ##maps including foldout maps of TN, KY and Indiana
– porta potty
Other Notable Gatliingurg and Pigeon Forge, TN Vacation Fun Spots
PIGEON FORGE TROLLY
Runs daily from 8am to midnight – ]rides start and end on 5 routes from Trolley Station. The station is located in the Old Mill District on Old Mill Drive. http://www.cityofpigeonforge.com/trolley.aspx
Pigeon Forge party fun
- Arcade that’s free play w wristband – there is NONE
- Enjoy dinner at the BAR AT THE TOP OF THE WORKLD at ANAKEESTA – https://anakeesta.com/magical-firefly-village/#cliff-top-grill-bar
- Forbidden cave – https://forbiddencavern.com/photos/
- Hillbilly golf – https://smokymountains.com/gatlinburg/things-to-do/hillbilly-golf-gatlinburg/
- Cataract Falls – Located just 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this short ¾ mile hike is ideal for all ages and endurance levels.
- Gourley’s Pond in Cades Cove – Cades Cove is full of charming places, but Gourley’s Pond is perhaps one of the most overlooked destinations. – To get to Gourley’s Pond, you’ll need to park your car at LeQuire Cemetery located at the end of Sparks Lane. Walk down the loop road for 200 feet, then turn right and continue for about 100 feet. You’ll see the pond afterward.
- Elkmont Troll Bridge – Before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the Elkmont area was a pioneer community, then a logging town, then a resort town for wealthy vacationers. When the park was established in 1934, Elkmont residents could choose to sell their homes for full value and relocate or sell their properties to the National Park Service for a discounted price in return for a lifetime lease. Once the National Park Service took over, Elkmont slowly started turning into a ghost town. One structure that’s still standing is the Troll Bridge. It spans a small creek a little ways off trail. If you want to see the Troll Bridge, take one of the side trails to the right about 100 feet into the Little River Trail. You’ll follow the side trail through the forest until you reach the bridge. All you have to do is follow the path parallel to the stone walls!
- Rich Mountain Road
- Riverwalk Greenway – Begins at Patriot Park, 186 Old Mill Ave., Pigeon Forge, TN
- Lodge Factory Store