Dolly Parton

Where Is Dolly Parton’s Childhood Home? Is It Still There? [2023]

Dolly Parton was born into a world on the cusp of seismic change. 

I suspect there are few people who can even begin to fathom her 77-year journey. 

She was the fourth of Avie Lee and Robert Parton’s 12 children. And she came into the world in a manner familiar to many East Tennesseans of her generation.

TheSmokies.com

Area Deals and Discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Where was Dolly Parton born and raised?

Dolly grew up in Sevierville, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

She has traveled from crushing poverty to a rising musical performer, from popular singer-songwriter to actress, from multi-talented performer to global icon.

Along the way she’s proven to possess an uncommon head for business, a heart for philanthropy and a spirit that crosses any and all social boundaries. She’s a great businesswoman, philanthropist and a legendary singer-songwriter.

But somehow that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

The list of Dolly’s peers is short, and they are titans: Bill Gates, Oprah and Michael Jordan spring to mind. These are people who used uncommon talent to transcend disciplines and rise to unimaginable levels of success. 

I think Dolly’s closest comp is probably Paul McCartney, an otherworldly talented musician and songwriter who dabbled in acting, has a quick wit and whose work changed the world.

I keep waiting for some TV exec to put the two of them in a room and just let them talk, maybe even duet. It would be magnetic. 

Read Also: Dollywood attraction to be reimagined: What’s next for Chasing Rainbows?

A sign at Dolly's mountain home at Dollywood
A sign outside of Dolly Parton’s childhood home at Dollywood explains that the home was constructed by members of the Parton family, like Dolly’s brother, Bobby. The interior was reproduced by her mother, Avie Lee (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Dollywood became Dolly’s Parton’s living history

Dolly has done a lot over the years to help us understand the place from which she came – both in the larger sense and quite specifically.

Through movies, music, songs and books, Dolly has time and again turned to her art to open windows into the world that helped create her.

We’ve seen actors, under Dolly’s watchful eye, bring her parents and siblings to life. She sang about her “Coat of Many Colors” and the Tennessee mountain Christmases.

She told us about the butterflies and mountain flowers, of her parents’ struggles and her own triumphs. 

What did Dolly Parton’s parents do for a living?

Today, Dolly credits much of her business sense to her father. Her farmer, despite being illiterate, is said to have possessed an uncommon acumen for turning a profit.

He worked different jobs to provide for the family. He was a farmer and also worked in construction.

Likewise, Dolly credits her mother – the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher – for the musical abilities that made her a star and for her faith to pursue that path. Dolly’s mother was a homemaker.

In many ways, she has turned Dollywood into her own living history.

From Wildwood Grove, an idealized version of the mountains of her youth, to the magic of a Country Fair and to the recreation of 50s era Sevierville in Jukebox Junction, Dollywood is – in many ways – the best way to understand the pieces of her life that make her Dolly.

But with rides. 

This isn’t some armchair psychoanalysis. Dolly made her purpose clear in Rivertown Junction, where Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home sits. 

Read Also: Dollywood history: A look at Rebel Railroad, Goldrush Junction

Dolly Parton mountain home bedrooms
Guests can tour Dolly’s replica of her childhood home inside Dollywood in Pigeon Forge at Rivertown Junction (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Did Dolly Parton grow up in a log cabin?

Fans of Dolly Parton likely have heard her talk about her Tennessee mountain home. She sings about it in her music:

In my Tennessee mountain home
Life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh
In my Tennessee mountain home
Crickets sing in the fields nearby

– “My Tennessee Mountain Home”

This famous childhood cabin home is a one-room cabin in Locust Ridge. The original cabin is still there, and the cabin at the Dollywood theme park is a replica.

It was designed by Dolly’s brother Bobby and decorated with the approval of her mother Avie Lee.

The replica home is a gift from Dolly. It’s an invitation for visitors to see what life was like in a tiny mountain community in the 40s and 50s.

The striking thing about it is just how so many people could inhabit that small cabin at the same time. 

The replica of Dolly Parton’s home has a washing basin near the bedroom. And on a table, tins and jars sit in the foreground of the floral wallpaper on the kitchen walls.

The sign outside the replica reads:   

This cabin is a replica of the Parton Homeplace where Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton raised Dolly and her 10 brothers and sisters. Most of the items on display are original family treasures. The original cabin still stands at its location in Locust Ridge.

Was Dolly Parton’s family poor?

Dolly Parton famously came from very humble beginnings.

Though prosperity came to many in Sevier County, the Parton’s single-room cabin in the mountains would have been familiar to generations of her people going back to their arrival in the mountains as Welsh immigrants. 

Dolly’s parents soon moved to a slightly larger cabin on Locust Ridge. But Dolly grew up in poverty that might have been considered crushing if it wasn’t quite so commonplace. 

replica home of dolly parton
The replica home has many original items from the Parton family (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Did Dolly Parton have a rough childhood?

Humble? Yes. But rough? No. To be clear, Dolly is very careful about what she invites the public to know about her personal life. She says in interviews that she keeps pieces of herself just for her.

But when she talks of her childhood and her parents and her siblings, she seems to remember her youth fondly. Lyrics like the ones in the song “Old Black Kettle” paint a quaint and lovely picture of a simple but good life in the mountains.

We might have been poor, but we didn’t know it
We’d heard that word, but we didn’t know what it meant
Oh, we used to have such a good life
And the days that I knew then are the happiest I’ve known
And oh, didn’t we have such a good time
It’s sad to think the old black kettle’s gone

– “Old Black Kettle”

Dolly Parton Mountain Home - Table
The inside of Dolly’s childhood home replica is filled with iron pans, tins, jars, old newspapers and family treasures (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Where was Dolly Parton’s childhood home located?

The original cabin sits on Locust Ridge in Sevier County, which still exists today.

It would not have been considered out of place in the late 40s.

But by the time Dolly turned 25, the only people living in such a home would be those in the most remote parts of the mountains. Or someone clinging purposefully to the old ways. 

The fact that Dolly makes all this available in the park is incredibly giving to her fans but also somewhat telling.

She knows that people are fascinated by her journey so this museum was created to sate that thirst.

But the real home is important to Dolly, too. And that is not shared so easily. 

At some point, her parents – being practical mountain people – sold the old home. There’s no point in hanging on to something they no longer needed. 

But Dolly sentimentally bought the land back and has fixed the home up to return it to its 1950s state.

She’s joked in interviews that she spent millions making that cabin look as poor as it did when she was a child. 

Where is Dolly Parton’s Locust Ridge home?

Visitors can get to the outskirts of the original home. It is in Locust Ridge, nearby Evans Chapel.

But don’t expect to get too close. A tall fence surrounds the property, and trespassers are not welcome

But driving around nearby, the combination of the majesty and the accompanying isolation is tangible.

It’s easy to imagine a sunny-headed girl running among the trees and up and down the hills. It’s easy to see her singing a song, chasing butterflies and fireflies and picking flowers for her mom. 

I can’t fathom the journey that Dolly Parton has taken since she left Locust Ridge in the Great Smoky Mountains. Still, I can picture the place where it all started with the parts she allows us to see.

If you’re planning a trip to Dollywood, remember you can get your tickets ahead of time with Tripster.

Have you seen Dolly Parton’s childhood home at Dollywood? Let us know in the comments. 

View the story version of this article here.

Visit the Dolly Parton statue: Location, history and more

There’s a bit of danger in commissioning a monument. 

First, of a practical nature, what if something isn’t quite right?

I’m thinking about the infamous bust of soccer player Christian Renaldo, which turned one of the best-looking men in the world into a creepy-looking figure.

But there are other dangers. If the subject of the statue is living, there’s a chance that something could go wrong. We’ll call this the OJ Simpson corollary.

In 1990, either the city of Buffalo or the University of Southern California would have been perfectly justified in commissioning a statue to honor a favorite son. 

Just a couple of years later, all they would have had was a controversial landmark. 

But there are also times when creating a statue to honor a native son or daughter is a no-brainer.

Such is the case with Dolly Parton, possibly the most beloved singer-songwriter of our time.

TheSmokies.com

Area Deals and Discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Does Dolly Parton have a statue?

Yes, Dolly Parton has a bronze statue in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

a side view of the dolly parton statue
Dolly Parton has a statue in her hometown of Sevierville, TN (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Where is the Dolly Parton statue?

Dolly Parton’s statue is located on the Sevier County courthouse lawn in downtown Sevierville. 

When visitors come to visit, they will see many other nods to the legend, including the Wings of Wander mural nearby (pictured below).

When the statue was dedicated in 1987, Dolly was already one of the most beloved women in the world.

A talented songwriter, country music singer, musician and actress, she was just embarking on an endeavor to show off her business acumen as Silver Dollar City was rechristened Dollywood. 

Tack on her legendary philanthropy efforts and the only issue with Dolly’s statue is that there aren’t more of them.

Sevier County should issue a series of Dolly statues at various stages of her life and locate them all around the county. 

Dolly is truly a native daughter that can’t be celebrated enough. 

Wings of Wander mural downtown Sevierville
The Wings of Wander mural is located along E Main Street in downtown Sevierville, within a few blocks of the statue (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Is there a statue of Dolly at Dollywood?

Dolly Parton does not have a statue at her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. But there are several other accolades for her throughout the park.

For example, you can visit a replica of her childhood home there.

Read Also: Where is Dolly Parton’s childhood home? Is it still there?

Why did Dolly Parton turn down a statue?

There was once talk about having a statue of Dolly Parton at the Tennessee capitol in Nashville.

It began with a debate over the bust in the state capital of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general.

In 2019, Dolly’s name was mentioned as a potential replacement. The idea had support from plenty of folks, just not Dolly.

She said in a statement on social media, “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.”

So why did she turn it down? Well, all we know for sure is what is written in her brief statement.

But if I’m speculating, it’s likely the same reason she attempted to turn down the nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dolly likes to stay humble. And she prefers to avoid controversy where she can.

She has also declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom, noting, “I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics.”

Read Also: Is a Dolly Parton Center coming to Nashville? Here’s what we know

dolly parton statue in front of courthouse
The Dolly Parton statue is located in front of the courthouse (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Who built the Dolly Parton statue?

Let’s return to the statue we do have, which made its debut more than 30 years ago.

Now, I don’t like to brag. But I’ve seen a few statues in my day, and in my humble opinion, this one is among the best I’ve seen. 

Created by Jim Gray, the statue is an excellent representation of Dolly.

There’s a joy of heart present that transcends the cold bronze of which it is made. It reminds me, honestly, of Peter Pan’s statue in Hyde Park in London.

It captures a puckish spirit that I find befitting a young Dolly. I can picture her running around the mountains like something out of an East Tennessee Shakespeare play. 

Dolly is more than a local girl made good. She’s a sprite, a fairy, a being of light and magic who has made the world a better place. 

In this imagining, Dolly sits on a rock, hair pulled back and holding her beloved guitar.

Her rolled-up jeans give the impression of her bare feet dipping into a frigid mountain stream on a warm summer day. 

A butterfly rests near one of the guitar’s frets and Dolly looks off into the distance with a beaming smile. 

In a way, it’s interesting that this is the season of Dolly’s life they chose to portray. I guess it makes sense, logically. She is captured as a young Dolly with big dreams.

What does Dolly Parton think about her statue?

In a Youtube video uploaded in 2011, Dolly talks about her statue.

“I’ve had the good fortune of getting to travel all over this world. I’ve had all kinds of wonderful awards. But I think probably one of the things I’m proudest of in my whole career, my whole life, really, is this statue of me in the courthouse yard in Sevierville.”

She says in the video that her dad would try to humble her a bit by telling her, “To your fans, you may be some sort of an idol, but to the pigeons down at the courthouse, you’re just another outhouse.”

“My dad was so sweet, he was proud of it,” Dolly continued.

“They told me later … he used to sneak out at night, late after the town had kinda calmed down and go down and scrub the pigeon poop off my statue. I know that you think I’m tryin’ to be funny, but I’m not, ’cause I cried my eyes out when I heard that.”

In a more recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, the icon quipped about her statue, “That’s the only time you’ll ever catch me out of my high heels.”

Have you ever seen the Dolly Parton statue? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

Did Dolly Parton sell Dollywood? Who owns Dollywood now?

I couldn’t have been much more than 8 or 9 at the time. 

It was a spring morning and I was in bed dreaming of baseball or Star Wars or some other of my boyhood passions.

“John!” my mom shouted. “Wake up! It’s snowing. You won’t have to go to school today.”

I threw off the covers and sprang to the window. No snow, just green grass and a gray Indiana morning. 

It was April 1 and I was the fool. I started to write that it made me dislike April Fool’s Day forever. But April 1 is my wedding anniversary. I may have been the fool, but I am not a fool, so let’s move along.  

I think of that memory each spring as the internet tries desperately to trick me the same way my mom did all those years ago. 

“Aliens discovered.” 

“Harrison Ford buys Morristown mansion.”

And the classic chestnut, “Dolly Parton sells Dollywood to Kanye West or China or Big Foot or George Clooney.”

It’s not being renamed Yeezywood any time soon. It’s simply another April Fools’ Day joke.

TheSmokies.com

Area Deals and Discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Dollywood sign in Pigeon Forge
The Dollywood theme park is undoubtedly one of the main attractions for many visitors in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is the rumor true? Did Dolly sell Dollywood?

Once something like that is in the interwebs, it never really goes away. Periodically, someone gets hold of an old link or revives an old Facebook post and here we go again.

So. To answer the question at hand: No. Dolly Parton didn’t sell Dollywood. I’m not sure she could if she even wanted to with co-owners involved.

Read Also: Where is Dolly Parton’s childhood home? Is it still there?

dollywood logo for coupon

Get Dollywood tickets

With Tripster.com

Save time and get your Dollywood tickets in advance

So who owns Dollywood? 

Wait. What? Dolly does not own Dollywood? She owns a piece. She partners with an entertainment company that started in the Ozarks in the 50s and 60s, Herschend Family Entertainment, founded by Jack and Pete Herschend of Branson, Missouri.

Their Chicago-based parents visited the Ozarks. Enamored with the area, they bought a 99-year lease on a kitschy tourist operation in a cave that was once a vigilante hideout. 

Jack and Pete’s dad fell ill shortly after obtaining the lease in the 50s, but the pair worked with their mother to build an entertainment empire that includes Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

Herschend Family Entertainment bought Goldrush Junction in Pigeon Forge in 1976 from Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns.

The following year, the attraction was rechristened Silver Dollar City Tennessee. The Herschends made some improvement over the ensuing decade, but Pigeon Forge’s Silver Dollar City – at least in my memory – was a third or fourth-tier theme park.

That is, until a fateful partnership changed everything.

In 1986, Dolly Parton – a Sevier County native and superstar musician, songwriter and actress – fulfilled her dream of giving back to her hometown when she bought a stake in the theme park and lent her name, image and life’s story for the park’s theme.

The park with her image has since soared to great success. It is among the best in the industry today.

Dolly Parton at Dollywood
Dolly Parton makes an appearance at her theme park in TN (archive photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

How much is Dollywood worth? How much do they make each year?

This also seems to be a burning internet question: How much is Dollywood worth?

Dollywood is a private company, so the answer is, there’s no way for the general public to really know. And Dollywood’s lips are sealed.

Dollywood, DreamMore Resort and Spa and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park represent a massive entertainment complex that conservatively is worth more than several European countries.

It is also expanding. Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge and Resort is set to open next year in 2023.

Throw in other Dollywood Company properties (aka World Choice Investments) in Pigeon Forge, including Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirates Voyage, a series of Dollywood cabins and others… it’s nearly impossible to guess.

Read Also: A look at Dollywood HeartSong Lodge and Resort, Suite 1986

Is Dolly Parton involved at all?

Absolutely, she is. Park executives refer to the iconic singer and songwriter as the Dreamer-in-Chief. It’s clear she has input on the park’s vision, if not day-to-day operations. Dolly herself is invested in Dollywood, not just in money.

My wife has never been able to get out of referring to Dolly as if she’s up in the boardroom pouring over spreadsheets and reviewing schematics. And honestly, she probably could. If we’ve learned anything in this life it’s not to doubt Dolly Parton.

As evidenced with the Wildwood Grove expansion, I think Dolly serves as an important voice and provides inspiration. Her love of the area and her childhood permeate each and every expansion and major initiative.

Dolly is clearly involved with decisions.

Dolly Parton performs HeartSong
Dolly even makes semi-annual appearances at Dollywood, but mostly on opening day, or for special events and announcements (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Will Dollywood be sold in the future? 

I don’t see it happening for a long time. Partially due to logistics.

The list of people or companies who could afford to buy it is fairly short. We’re talking Bezos, Gates, Buffet (Warren not Jimmy) or an entity like Disney World. 

Dollywood is a massive success, a cash cow and a family legacy.

For the Herschend to sell, it would take a monster offer. You’d have an easier time buying a major sports franchise. Seriously, if the LA Clippers are worth billions, how much would Dollywood et al go for? It’s almost unfathomable.

Would Dolly ever sell her shares?

It seems unlikely at this point. As important as her singing and songwriting, her acting and her philanthropy are, Dollywood – at least from this vantage point – seems to be positioned to carry her real legacy.

It’s the perfect place to celebrate her long, illustrious career and the parts of her personality that are often overlooked. Seriously, the woman’s business acumen is amazing. 

Were you drawn to this article after hearing the internet rumors? Let us know in the comments.

Click here to view the web story version of this article.

The Dolly Parton tour bus: A look at how our Appalachian queen travels

It was 1987. 

I was in the 7th grade and our neighbor – a young adult – invited the neighborhood for a cookout. 

It must have been summer and the sun had fallen. While the adults sat around a fire, I commandeered the boom box. I had VERY strong opinions about music at the time, nearly all of them wrong.  

I shudder to think what I subjected the crowd to as I confidently played DJ and juggled my way through a couple of cases worth of cassettes. 

TheSmokies.com

Area Deals and Discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter and we will instantly deliver the best area discounts to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

In retrospect, I imagine there was likely more silence than music as I fast-forwarded and rewound my way through mid-80s pop, hair metal and rap.

At one point our host got up and handed me a cassette and said, “Play this. Don’t change it.”

I popped it in and pressed play. And the world-weary voice of Bob Seger came out. Not the up-tempo, party time rock. This wasn’t “Ramblin’ Gamblin Man” or “Old Time Rock and Roll”. This was the tired, melancholic slice of Seger, the voice that sold a hundred million Chevy Trucks. 

It was “Turn The Page”, Seger’s lament about life on the road, life as an outsider, paid to jump up on stage every night and entertain the faceless crowds. In other words, whether he was in the mood or not. 

Music hits differently when you’re young. Particularly when you’re a highly opinionated, imaginative middle schooler with a penchant for drama. 

Sitting there in the dark, listening to the song, I was immediately transported into Seger’s shoes. I was in the next bunk bed on the bus, ears ringing from the amplifiers, shaking off the cold and lonely road.

Of course, not every tour bus experience is the same. 

For example, consider Pro Football Hall of Fame member John Madden and the famous Madden Cruiser. The football coach turned color analyst became famous for traveling all over the whole United States by bus.

Madden flew as a football coach. But when he got into TV, he stopped flying. Many thought Madden’s fear came from the California Polytechnic State University football team plane crash.

However, Madden later admitted he disliked being in the plane itself. 

One of the bedrooms inside Dolly Parton's tour bus
Dolly Parton’s room in her previous ride, the Gypsy Wagon, has a queen sized bed. It is now on display at Dollywood (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

Dolly Parton’s tour bus: The Gypsy Wagon

And that my friends, brings us to Dolly Parton.

Like Madden, the Pigeon Forge legend wasn’t especially big on flying. And like Seger, she started out touring the country in a tour bus of varying levels of comfort.

By the time Madden got into TV, Dolly Parton had herself a pretty nice tour bus. And Madden had been getting to games via a train. But when a CBS executive learned Madden preferred a bus, he contacted Parton’s people and rented her bus while it wasn’t in use.

Madden went from Atlanta to Las Vegas to Philly and loved it. He soon contacted Greyhound, and for $500,000, the Madden Cruiser was born. 

The whereabouts of that particular tour bus are unknown today. But by 1994, Dolly was a global icon and was ready for a tour bus befitting a queen. As a result, she designed the Gypsy Wagon, a Prevost Car tour bus.

Over her lengthy career, you’d think Dolly would have a fleet of luxury buses, but the country singer got her money’s worth. In fact, the Gypsy Wagon served as Dolly’s bus for years and years. It accumulated more than 600,000 miles. 

“Designed by Dolly’s longtime road manager, bus driver and friend Don Warden and his wife Ann, the 1994 Prevost features hand-tooled leather from Germany on the sofa and chairs, cherry cabinets and brass fixtures,” says the Dollywood website.

The bus features three bunks beds for her family members, as well as two bathrooms and a shower.

The tour of her bus includes the convection oven, which Dolly would use to make her own meals. It also has a satellite TV and a half bath. The back of the bus reveals the pink bedroom, complete with a queen-sized bed. 

Dolly’s bedroom features three clocks, set for different time zones. One is set on Los Angeles time, one on Nashville time and the other on Dollywood time.

Dolly Parton’s newer tour bus made an appearance on Oprah Winfrey as well as Dolly Parton’s vlog

The Gypsy Wagon is now on permanent display to the general public inside the Dollywood theme park. The Dolly Parton tour bus is parked in front of the Chasing Rainbows Museum in Adventures in Imagination.

The old bus, with its distinct paint job and signature butterflies, gives an inside look at Dolly’s road life.

In 2008, Dolly Parton’s tour bus was upgraded to a new model, which she showed off on the Oprah Winfrey show. It was on Dolly’s vlog, the “Dolly Parton Tour TV”. 

Read Also: Dollywood attraction to be reimagined: What’s next for Chasing Rainbows?

A tour bus parked outside of DreamMore
The tour bus that can be spotted outside of DreamMore will reportedly be turned into a suite where guests can stay (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

DreamMore’s Suite 1986 bus

Additionally, for those who visit the Great Smoky Mountains and the National Park in hopes of learning more about Dolly, there’s hope on the way.

Another of Dolly’s old buses is being turned into Suite 1986 at the DreamMore Resort. The “suite” will actually be made of Dolly’s most recent tour bus – the one she showed off to Oprah.

Guests will be able to sleep in it. 

Read Also: When will HeartSong open? A look at Dollywood’s newest resort

How much did Dolly Parton’s tour bus cost?

The Gypsy Wagon tour bus, which is on display at Dollywood, cost $750,000. 

A sign for Don Warden outside of Dolly's tour bus
A plaque honors Don Warden: “Mentor, Musician, Manager and Mr. Everything” (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Who was Dolly Parton’s bus driver?

Don Warden, who passed in 2017, served as Dolly’s right-hand man from her days on the Porter Wagoner Show.

Warden – who reportedly had a knack for finding and fixing up tour buses – left the show when she did and stayed at her side.

Dolly called him her “Mr. Everything”. In addition to driving and designing the tour buses, he was a renowned steel guitar player and tenor. Dolly called him “a man of many colors”, according to the Dolly Parton website. 

Mr. Warden handled band accounts, promoted shows, coordinated merch and even served as the bus mechanic when necessary. After he passed, Dolly had a plaque in his honor mounted at the entrance to the Gypsy Wagon. 

Tim Dunlap also served as a bus driver for Dolly.

A kitchen inside the Dolly Parton tour bus
Dolly Parton would reportedly prepare her own meals on her tour bus (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

How does Dolly Parton travel?

In 2018, Parton told the Bobby Bones Show that she’s afraid of flying. 

“I’m like my daddy,” she said. “I don’t want to go no higher up than pulling corn and no lower down than pickin’ taters.”

It doesn’t mean she won’t fly. She has and will. 

“I don’t know if I’m just a scaredy cat or just the motion,” she said. “It’s probably a little bit both. I don’t like that helpless feeling that I can’t get out if I want to. I want to be on the ground. If I want to stop, I want to get out. You can’t very well go up to the pilot and say, ‘I wanna get out now.'”

When she flies, it’s on a private jet because it’s easier and well, she’s Dolly Parton and can afford it. But she still prefers her custom abode. 

“When I do fly, I fly private jet because it’s hard doing commercial anymore because it’s such a zoo anyway,” she said. “I just take my bus anytime I can.”

She also confirmed this sentiment in her vlog episode, which is embedded above.

“I don’t enjoy flying … I don’t like to be couped up,” she says in the episode.

“[The bus is] my favorite home. I have homes all over … but my favorite place is the bus… I’m a true gypsy at heart.”

But Dolly has other ways to get around. 

When I was in the park for the opening of Wildwood Grove, she was being interviewed by the Today Show. The park had a special windowless van to get her where she needed to be. 

When you’re a global icon like Dolly, you get to make your own travel arrangements to fit whatever whim you have.

Remember, if you’re planning a trip to Dollywood, check Tripster for discounts.

Have you visited the Dolly Parton tour bus at Dollywood? Tell us what you think in the comments!