The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in the US, but did you know that the national forests and public lands surrounding GSMP offer an abundance of trails, waterfalls, camping, and pet-friendly options away from the more crowded trails and heavy traffic on the roads?  Planning your vacation?  Start here in the Gateway to the Smokies.

Your journey begins with the drive.   For visitors traveling the south and from the east, consider taking a different route to avoid congested roads and the many traffic lights.

Sitting in the shadow of the national park are two affordable destinations – Newport and Cosby- for your Smokies vacation.

Which are Gateway Exits?

From I 40, make exits 443 (Foothills Parkway), 440 (Wilton Springs), and 435 (Newport, SR321) as your Gateway to the Smokies exits.

Exit 432 needs to be your preferred exit for staying on Douglas Lake and day tripping to your favorite attractions.

When you stay away from the more expensive portions of the Smokies, your vacation will be more relaxing and more affordable.  Plus, you are were you will find funky small shops, uncrowded trails, and those mom and pop restaurants that make vacations fun. Parking will not be a worry.

Here are some of our favorite lodging choices to make your basecamp:

Holiday Inn and Suites Express and Hampton Inn are two branded chains in Newport.  Depending on the dates of your travel, prices can range from $125 to $180.

If you are bringing your pet, consider the Econo Lodge off exit 440.  You will be close to the GSMP, Cherokee National Forest, Douglas Lake, plus an outdoor pool after a day of adventure.  Your pet is welcome on the trails of the National Forest and the Martha Sundquist State Forest.   One exit up is Hartford, with some great BBQ dining along the Pigeon River.

Camping- New this year is Roamstead.  Not only are there traditional campsites, but you can book a cabin or a yurt.  Prefer a place along the river?  Check out Pigeon River Camping.  There are options for RVs, tents, and small cabins.

Cabins- If you are looking for that special place with cozy cabins, crackling campfires, and star filled skies, look no further than Creekwood Inn at Whisper Wood Farms.  Not only is their onsite dining, but the Inn will prepare a picnic basket for your day on the trails.

To see more, click here Come see why we call this I40 corridor the “Gateway to the Smokies.”

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