What to pack for a Pigeon Forge vacation; 8 items you’ll need

Couple at a winter cabin
When you're traveling to the Smokies in the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes, flashlights and backup power supplies (stock photo)

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You’ve booked your cabin. You picked your must-see attractions and restaurants.

Now it’s time for the not-so-fun part of vacation planning: Packing your bags.

There’s probably someone out there in the world who feels confident in their packing skills. I’m not one of them.

But I’ve also spent a lot of time in the Smoky Mountains, so packing for a getaway weekend in Pigeon Forge has become second nature.

So without further ado, here are my best tips on what you should pack for your next Pigeon Forge vacation:

Alum Cave Trail Bluff
Hikers walk along the Alum Cave Trail Bluff in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (stock photo)

What to pack for a Pigeon Forge vacation: The general checklist

Now, hopefully I don’t need to tell you to pack your medications, underwear and cell phone charger. Remember to start with the basics. Additionally you will need:

8. An umbrella or poncho 

Guys, it rains a lot here.

Don’t be too sad if you look at the forecast and see gray skies. In East Tennessee, it can be pouring rain one minute and sunny the next.

But, bring some rain gear so don’t get soaked when you’re out and about. The rain will come and go, but it can take a while to dry off if you’re caught in a downpour.

7. Swimsuit or swim trunks

Always bring some swim gear, even if you’re traveling during the cooler months.

Most cabins and hotels will offer an indoor pool or a hot tub.

6. Snacks

Snacks should be on every packing list for every vacation.

Extra snacks may be required if you’re renting a cabin that is a good distance from the main strip.

Schlepping up and down a backroad 20 minutes each way gets tiring, and you don’t want to spend half your vacation driving cause someone forgot to pack the chips.

5. Comfortable shoes

Unless you plan on getting to your cabin and keeping your happy butt there the whole time, you’ll want some comfortable shoes.

Will you be shopping at the outlets? Going to Dollywood? Doing some hiking? East Tennessee is hilly, y’all. Bring good shoes.

4. Sunglasses and sunscreen

Sure, you can buy sunscreen when you get to your attraction, but you’ll definitely pay extra for it.

3. Cash

While most places will take a credit card these days, you’ll want to carry some cash just in case.

Plus, if you do any moonshine or wine tastings, you should have some tip money on hand.

2. A power strip 

I’ve found that traveling with a power strip is insanely helpful.

It keeps everyone from fighting over the limited outlets. You can thank me later.

1. Layers … a lot of layers 

Weather can be unpredictable here. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, bring some extra layers.

You may not think you’ll need a light jacket in the summer, but folks around here love to blast the air conditioning.

And in the winter, you may see a warm, deceivingly sunny December day, but when the sun goes down the temperatures will most certainly drop.

Always check the weather forecast, but be prepared to bundle up or cool down as needed.

Snow in the Great Smoky Mountains
Snowfall surprised locals and tourists alike in Christmas of 2020 (photo contributed by Dr. Bill Ramsey)

What to pack for a fall or winter Pigeon Forge trip

If you’re traveling during the cooler months, you want to make some special preparations in case there is inclement weather:

4. Warm, comfy clothes

Even if you don’t anticipate the weather forecast being all that cold, temperatures in the higher elevations will always be cooler compared to the lower elevations.

3. Flashlights or lanterns

Some folks visiting the Smokies in the winter of 2020 were stranded on Christmas without power for days.

Bring some flashlights or battery-operated lanterns so you have a light source if the power goes out.

2. Backup power supply and heat source

If you do lose power, consider what you will do for power or heat.

Bring extra blankets, a power supply to charge your phones, and know whether or not there is a gas fireplace in your cabin.

Read Also: What to do when it snows in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg; 8 tips

1. Extra food or snacks

We mentioned food and snacks once already, but it’s especially important if you’re traveling to the mountains in the winter months.

If it starts snowing, you’ll probably want to stay where you are until that stuff melts.

Soaky Surge
Bring a waterproof pouch if you plan on being at an attraction like the new Soaky Mountain Waterpark (photo courtesy of Soaky Mountain Waterpark)

What to pack for a spring, summer Pigeon Forge trip

3. Lightweight, cool clothing

Tennessee is quite hot and humid during the summer.

Bring light-weight clothing, especially if you’re going to be doing anything outdoors. (But still include layers. See above).

2. Waterproof pouch

If you plan on going to a theme park like Dollywood or Soaky Mountain Waterpark (located in Sevierville), a small waterproof pouch can be a great accessory to reduce the need for lockers.

1. Bug spray 

Mosquitos are rough here in Sevier County. They can smell a newcomer from miles away.

And when I say newcomer, I mean anyone who forgot to pack the bug spray.

What to bring if you’re renting a cabin:

If you’re renting a cabin, you may need a few additional items to make sure you’re prepared for a comfortable stay. My typical cabin packing list includes:

  • Travel soaps, shampoos and lotions
  • Toilet paper
  • Dish detergent
  • Laundry detergent
  • Coffee filters
  • Bottled water

Read Also: 6 tips to consider before you rent a cabin in the Smokies

Last but not least, if you hope to do some wildlife viewing or hiking on your trip, you may also want to consider some binoculars, hiking sticks, a first aid kit, or a compass.

And as you enjoy the beautiful Smoky Mountains, remember to practice the principles of Leave No Trace to keep our mountains beautiful for generations to come. So whatever you pack in, be sure to pack it back out.

Read Also: Trash continues to pile up in the Smokies, volunteers ask for help

What are YOUR packing tips for a Pigeon Forge vacation? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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