Ever since I went to Tennessee, I’ve been looking Dolly Parton in the bosom on a daily basis. She’s just right there, posing in my kitchen, on a poster I bought in Dollywood. And only today it occurred to me that I never wrote a blogpost on Dollywood, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg or the Smokey Mountains. Shame on the.ego.tripper, cause in a way, this part of the world is more exciting than any other place you’ll ever visit. Let me tell you why…
To explain Dollywood and surroundings, I will have to start with some geography. In the east of Tennessee, not too far from the wonderful city of Knoxville, you’ll find Sevierville, the birthplace of Dolly Parton. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you who this round-breasted woman is, do I? Yes, she’s famous for being Miley Cyrus’ god mother. Anyway, Dolly Parton is a local half God, probably owning about half the land between Sevierville and the Smokey Mountains National Park. Which is – INTERESTING FACT – the most visited national park in the United States, believe it or not! The free entrance might have something to do with that…
Anyway, as a true Dolly Parton fan, Sevierville is a necessary stop on your fan travel, but I wouldn’t say it’s America’s most interesting town. There is, however, a statue of Dolly. #WINNING. But where it gets really cool, is in Pigeon Forge, just one village closer to the Smokey Mountains. This is where the true Americans come to celebrate their holiday. And honest to God: if you’re a European coming to the States for the first time, prepare to get the cultural shock of a lifetime. I frikkin’ love it! Pigeon Forge is a mountain resort where everything is kinda wrong! Driving on the main road you’ll see tons of crazy hotels. There’s one that celebrates Christmas every day. There’s one that’s upside down. There’s one that has lumberjack shows every night. Actually, there’s a hotel for everyone in this town! And even better: it has Dollywood!
For those of you that have never heard of Dollywood: it’s Dolly’s theme park. And it’s brilliant! I was never a real big fan of theme parks, even as a kid, but I did enjoy Dollywood. And not only cause you can buy purses there with a compartment for your pistol, or the fact that you can go to church almost hourly, but also because of the rides. You see, Dollywood has a few rides that have been voted the best in the country/world. Or the fastest, or craziest. I don’t really remember. All I know is that I almost passed out on the Wild Eagle.
Another step closer to the entrance of the Smokey Mountains National Park is Gatlinburg, another mountain resort, but this time with a focus on adult entertainment. By this I mean alcohol. In Gatlinburg you’ll find Tennessee’s first official moonshine distillery. Y’all know what moonshine is, right? Yes, it gets you drunk. Fast. If you’re ever in Gatlinburg, do visit the Ole Smokey Distillery and have yourself a merry little Christmass (you know, in the hotel in Pigeon Forge).
Should I also tell you a little bit more about the national park? From Gatlinburg the entrance to the Smokey Moutains is just a few minutes drive. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established in 1934, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is comprised of ridge upon ridge of seemingly endless forest on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains and its history of southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park. And on one of the ridges you’ll find the famous Appalachian trail, which runs all the way from Georgia to Maine (3.500km)!
Looking for some more on Tennessee? Check out Knoxville!