Years ago, we stopped at one of the massive flea markets in Sevierville, TN on a busy Saturday morning. This was back in the pre-eBay days when you could still occasionally find treasures at a flea market.
Parking was scarce and we ended up down the road a bit. Walking back, we crossed the parking lot of what we’ll charitably call a mom-and-pop motel.
As we walked past, one of the rooms has the curtains pushed all the way back, allowing the sunlight to shine on two large birdcages and the exotic birds within. A parrot and a macaw, I would guess, but I am not an ornithologist.
A shirtless man sat against a chair propping the door open. He had long white hair and was talking to another exotic bird perched on his forearm.
I remember thinking as we walked passed, “This place has really lenient pet policies.”
Today, I doubt you’d find many exotic bird-friendly hotels around Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, and I bet the ones that do accept birds have a non-refundable pet fee. However, more and more hotels and motels are finding ways to accommodate people who like to travel with their pets.
Can I take my dog to Pigeon Forge?
Sure, who’s gonna stop ya? We don’t have dog catchers stationed at the city limits. Although I will say, I wouldn’t think of Pigeon Forge as the friendliest place to bring a pet.
I don’t think of Pigeon Forge as very walkable in general. If I was vacationing with my dog – and if my dog was well trained and acclimated to a lot of people – I’d stay in Gatlinburg, which is more pedestrian friendly.
Can I take my pet to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
Sure, with caveats. There are only two pet-friendly hiking trails in the Smoky Mountain National Park and they are each basically short walking trails. Walking paths that permit dogs are the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other park trails.
Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must not exceed 6 feet in length.
Also, bears can do their business in the woods, but if Fido does, you better scoop it.
“Pet excrement must be immediately collected by the pet handler and disposed of in a trash receptacle,” the National Park Service says on its website. “Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles or RVs.”
Why can’t I take my dog on the hiking trails?
It’s not just the Smokies. All national parks with large backcountry sections do not allow dogs on trails for several reasons.
First of all, they present problems with the local wildlife and they carry diseases that can be passed on.
Dogs are also known to chase wildlife. Also, dogs will leave a scent that other animals can identify as a predator in the area, which might change their behavior.
Additionally, dogs could serve as a tasty meal option for larger predators (bears) in the area.
Finally, not everyone likes dogs and some people, especially children, can be afraid of them. If you were afraid of snakes, you wouldn’t want someone walking a python down the trail. Same kind of concept here.
Are there pet-friendly hotels in the area?
Sure. Several. There may be deposits required or limitations on the number of pets or the breed. But unless you’re traveling with a band of pit bulls, you’ll likely be good.
In fact, let’s list the best pet-friendly hotels in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas.
Note that these hotels are listed as pet-friendly at the time of this writing. Policies may change, so it’s best to confirm when you book your reservation.
12. Super 8 by Wyndham in Downtown Gatlinburg at the Convention Center
Located on Historic Nature Trail, this hotel – pleasantly rated a 6.2 on Booking.com is above the Gatlinburg Sky Needle. It is, in fact, a short walk to the Parkway.
There are designated rooms for pets. The fee is $30 plus tax per pet per night.
11. Dancing Brook in Gatlinburg
Who says you have to stay in a traditional hotel? This charming private studio house has one queen bed and one bath and overlooks Baskin Creek, just outside the national park.
With only three reviews, it’s rated at 7.3 on the travel website Booking.com.
Pets are accepted with extra charges. Built on the side of the hill, the raised deck offers a beautiful view of the creek.
10. Motel 6 in Gatlinburg
I know what you’re thinking.
The last time I stayed in a Motel 6 was in Columbia, South Carolina in 1998, the night before University of Tennessee’s Tee Martin set the record for consecutive completed passes.
It was a memorable trip for a lot of reasons, but not the least of which was the fact that there was a rather large brawl in the room next to us and I had to call the front desk to report someone had chucked the little hotel table through the large pane of glass that in a more reputable establishment, would have been full of exotic birds in cages.
Anyway, this little Motel 6 isn’t that one. Specifically, it’s got charming chalet-style architecture, a seasonal outdoor pool and free wifi.
The location is good, in fact, not far from the national park or Ober Mountain. It’s moderately priced and has a respectable review score of 6.3 on Booking.com.
As someone who has stayed in “affordable” hotels all over East Tennessee as a travel softball parent, this one is imminently doable. There is no security deposit and there is a limit of two pets per room.
9. Green Valley Motel in Pigeon Forge
Located on the Parkway, the Green Valley isn’t the Ritz, but it has a pleasant 6.8 rating on Booking.com and very affordable rates.
It is only small pet friendly, however, as there is a limit of 30 lbs. The fee is $20 per pet per night, which if you have two dogs, nearly doubles the room rate by my math.
8. Quality Inn and Suites in Gatlinburg
Quality Inn and Suites is another chain I’ve frequented on road trips all over the Southeast whose quality varies wildly depending on the company managing the franchise. Therefore, with a 7.6 rating on Booking.com, this one is a solid option.
The rooms have balconies, some with a mountain view. Rooms have a fridge and microwave and you’re a three-minute drive or a 16-minute walk to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
Two pets are allowed per room. Not all rooms are pet friendly. The pet fee is $20 per night.
7. The Park Vista in Gatlinburg
The Park Vista is a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Gatlinburg.
I wanted to make a joke about the DoubleTree being pet friendly because dogs like to mark their territory on trees, but I couldn’t work it out.
With an 8.3 rating of “very good” on Booking.com, this gem is just outside the national park. Each room has a balcony and a flat-screen TV and the facility has a restaurant and bar.
The pet deposit is $35 per animal per night. The maximum weight is 75 lbs … for the dog, not the guests.
6. Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg
With a rating of 8.6, we’re in excellent territory here according to Booking.com. Located on River Road, it’s easy walking distance to the Parkway and Downtown Gatlinburg.
Rooms with hot tubs and fireplaces are available, but it’s unclear if those rooms are also pet friendly.
There was some confusion as a hotel representative answered a question about pets on Booking.com and said the hotel was only service animal friendly.
However, I confirmed through Hilton the hotel that it is pet friendly, although there is a $75 fee and a max weight of 50 pounds and a limit of two pets (dogs or cats only) per room. It is not clear if the $75 is per pet.
5. Hampton Inn in Pigeon Forge
With an excellent rating of 8.6 on Booking.com, in fact, 0.1 better than the Hampton Inn & Suites Pigeon Forge on the Parkway, this Teaster Lane hotel offers a swimming pool and a kids play area.
The entire hotel is pet friendly but has an undisclosed fee.
4. Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge in Pigeon Forge
You don’t have to haul your RV down to keep your pet at this Jimmy Buffet-themed lodge which is rated an outstanding 9.3 on Booking.com.
The facility is located not far from the Parkway and a short drive to Dollywood Lane.
The pet fee is a non-refundable $75. With three restaurants on-site, you don’t have to leave. The breakfast is wonderful, but it’s also $50 per person.
3. Twin Mountain Inn & Suites in Pigeon Forge
Another 9.3 rating on Booking.com, the Twin Mountain Inn is located on South River Road right next to Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
The pet fee is a reasonable $15 per pet per night with a limit of two pets per room. The weight limit is 80 to 100 lbs.
2. Home2 Suites by Hilton in Pigeon Forge
Across from the LeConte Event Center, this hotel is everything you want in a home away from home with outdoor grills, fire pits and an excellent living space.
The pet fee is $54.88 per night. I’m assuming that includes tax.
1. La Quinta Inn by Wyndham in Pigeon Forge near Dollywood
With an excellent 8.6 rating on Booking.com, this charming hotel right on the Parkway directly across from Dollywood Lane allows pets on request for no extra charge.
Do you know of a great pet-friendly hotel in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments!