What do you think of when you hear the words mass transit? Probably not Gatlinburg’s trolley system! We bet it’s the cutest mass transportation you’ll ever enjoy riding.
The fleet’s 20 bright and cheerful open-air trolleys run along seven color-coded routes to get you almost anywhere you want to go in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas. You can board at more than 100 stops around town. Just look for the Street Trolley signs.
Not only is it fun and convenient to ride the trolleys, it’s also inexpensive. For $2 a day, you get unlimited access to the Red, Blue, Purple and Yellow trolley routes. Fares for individual routes start at just 50 cents per person. Please remember to have exact change! And starting June 13, you can ride for free along the length of the Parkway, where extra stops will be added.
To help you get where you’re going, we’ve created a handy Trolley Locator and route guide. You can also get route information and locations right in the palm of your hand by downloading the Official Gatlinburg and Gatlinburg Tours apps.
Let’s get started with our Top 10 list of places you can go on the Gatlinburg trolleys.
Gatlinburg Welcome Centers. The two Welcome Centers are great places to start your Gatlinburg vacation. The Purple route takes you to the Highway 441 Welcome Center, where you can find lots of information about things to see and do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and purchase a fishing license. All of the trolley routes converge on the downtown Welcome Center and Mass Transit Center. Stop off here for visitor information, trolley schedules and All-Day Passes.
Arts and Crafts Community. You can spend an entire day exploring Gatlinburg’s famous Arts and Crafts Community—the home of the largest organization of independent artisans in the United States. Charming galleries, shops and eateries are arrayed along the 8-mile Arts and Crafts Loop along Buckhorn Road and Glades Road. You’ll do a lot of walking when you get there, so hop aboard the trolley at the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Center and save your legs for perusing the amazing work of our artists. The Yellow Arts & Crafts route takes you there for only a buck, with unlimited access all along the way.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Starting in June, the Tan National Park trolley route takes you from the Mass Transit Center to the park via River Road and the Parkway. The first stop on this route is the Sugarlands Visitor Center and adjacent Park Headquarters, where you can find tons of information about the park and hike the Sugarlands Nature Trail to the historic John Ownby Cabin. The trolley then takes you to the Laurel Falls parking area, where a 2.6-mile-family and wheelchair-friendly trail takes you to the spectacular, 80-foot falls. Bring your camera—it’s a photographer’s dream! Finally, you won’t want to miss the Elkmont Campground, where you can fish for trout in the Little Pigeon River, hike the trails and explore the remains of historic Elkmont. Plan your visit for an evening in early June, and you might see one of the world’s most unique spectacles: the annual display put on by the famous synchronous fireflies. The trolley departs six times a day between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. for the hour-and-a-half round trip. Fare is $2.
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. If you love mountain arts and crafts, plan on visiting this creative oasis and cultural center where students refine their skills, preserve Smoky Mountain traditions and experiment with artistic expression in a variety of media. Founded 103 years ago as the site of the region’s first medical clinic and school, Arrowmont today is an internationally recognized school for artists. You can view unique works at the galleries, tour the campus and even take a class or workshop. Located at 556 Parkway, Arrowmont is accessible via all of the Gatlinburg trolley routes.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. All routes lead to this popular attraction at 88 River Road, where you’ll stroll through an underwater tunnel that makes you feel like you’re swimming with the sharks and splashing with the rays! Among the unique experiences here is the Penguin Encounter. You’ll enjoy watching these adorable creatures waddle around their habitat. You can even pet the penguins and have your picture taken with them. It’s a good idea to call for reservations before you go.
Ober Gatlinburg via the Aerial Tramway. One of the most popular places for family fun at any time of year is the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park, with a variety of rides, shopping and dining opportunities. And getting there is half the fun! Both the Red/River Road & Convention Center and Green/Historic Nature Trail & Convention Center routes will drop you off at the Aerial Tramway Mall, where you can board the Aerial Tram for a thrilling, 2.1-mile ride to Ober Gatlinburg. Once there, you can enjoy rides like the new Mountain Coaster and Alpine Slide, view Smoky Mountain species like playful otters and frolicking bears at Wildlife Encounter, and cool off with a refreshing turn or two around the indoor ice rink.
Evening activities. You’ll find a plethora of places to have a great meal along the Parkway, all reachable on the Green/Historic Nature Trail & Convention Center route. After dinner, sample some of the hand-crafted libations at our local wineries and distilleries. No worries about driving—just take the Green or Blue routes there and back home!
Romantic destinations. Romance is in bloom all over Gatlinburg, but the green route is just made for lovers! Once you’ve pre-applied for your marriage license, take the trolley to the corner of Reagan Drive and Bellaire and pick it up at the Gatlinburg Schilling Center. Charming bed-and-breakfasts, quaint inns and wedding chapels are easily reached by trolley, as are inspiring romantic spots like the Covered Bridge in the Glades and the Village Fountain. And what could be more romantic than holding hands with your sweetie as you take a leisurely trolley ride all around the city?
City parks. For families with young children, Gatlinburg’s three city parks offer picnics and playgrounds for an afternoon of fun. Take the Yellow route to get to Mills Park, which offers a 9-hole disc golf course, a track, skate park and more. Board the Pink or Purple route trolleys to get to Herbert Holt Park, located just off the Parkway, where the kids can fish in their own stream and enjoy the playground area. Just off the Green and Red routes, you’ll find Mynatt Park, with amenities like tennis and basketball courts, a kids’ fishing stream and horseshoe pits.
Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. Hop on the Pink trolley and take a short ride from downtown Gatlinburg to the legendary Dollywood. There’s so much to do here: shows, craft demonstrations, rides, attractions and a water adventure park. Nearby in Pigeon Forge is the Gatlinburg Golf Course, which offers golfers a challenging experience and the most spectacular views from greens and fairways you’ll ever see.