Travel Log

Roadtrip 2020 Day 12: Rocky Top Tennessee

After our first full day in Pigeon Forge visiting Alcatraz East and the Civil War Theater, we had planned to go to the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Titanic Exhibition.

We decided to let serendipity take over when we learned that morning the Hatfield and McCoys Dinner Theater didn’t have seating for two until three days later.

We drove by Dollywood but decided we’ll enjoy it on a future trip without pandemic concerns.

“Let’s checkout Gatlinburg,” I suggested. Dodie was enthusiastically agreeable.

The 7-mile drive was awesome and a great introduction to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as we winded through.

Pigeon Forge reminds me somewhat of Branson, Missouri and a bit like the South end of the Vegas Strip (minus casinos) in the late 1970s. A long, busy Parkway with competing attractions, tourist shops and restaurants are lined along both sides.

Gatlinburg is nestled in the mountains, twisting its way wherever an attraction, store, or cafe will fit. Unlike Pigeon Forge, it’s possible to find a central place to park and walk your way to most of it.

Some of its key attractions offer sweeping views of the National Park, including the 407-ft. Space Needle observation tower and a Sky Lift up Crockett Mountain, and a 2.1-mile aerial cable car that journeys from Downtown to the popular amusement resort Ober Gatlinburg.

Because of COVID concerns, we were more cautious in Gatlinburg. People are spread out more in Pigeon Forge, but Gatlinburg tourism is squeezed in tighter spaces. 

Almost by accident, we found the Christ Museum and spent a little over an hour inside. Dodie especially enjoyed the voiced over tour depicting various scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.

We walked over to the Gatlinburg Skylift about two blocks away figuring we would be properly socially distancing ourselves high above the town.

At the top of the mountain is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, where the next evening eight volunteers draped a massive 60-foot long American flag over the side. The flag will stay there until July 5 for the holiday weekend.

The bridge is the countryโ€™s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Midway across the 700 foot structure, thick see-through panels replace wooden planks offering a birds eye view of the ground far below.

On the other side we had a view overlooking some of the most famous mountains of the Smokies. When she saw Rocky Top, Dodie started singing:

Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee

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