Gatlinburg is a FANTASTIC town to visit. It is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. It is home to hundreds of world class craftsmen and artists. There are numerous attractions, such as the Gatlinburg SkyLift, that offer incredible views of the surrounding mountains. There are dozens of excellent eateries and hundreds of shops. It is a vacation destination for millions of people every year.

If there is anything to gripe about…it’s the traffic. Gatlinburg is a small town, and during peak times of the year, it can be a slow and frustrating process to drive through town. But if you plan ahead, you can save yourself a headache and get around town MUCH easier.

Riding the trolley

The first thing we recommend is reserving a room at a hotel downtown (may we recommend Edgewater Hotel & Convention Center?). It is an easy matter to walk anywhere you need to go in the downtown area. However, not EVERYWHERE in town is within walking distance of downtown (such as the Arts & Crafts community), and sometimes you just may not feel like walking. That’s where the Gatlinburg trolley system comes in!

The city of Gatlinburg has a fleet of more than 20 trolleys that run every day of the year, providing FREE transportation to anyone who needs it. There are trolley stops spread around Gatlinburg. If you need a ride, just find a trolley stop and wait for a trolley. It is slightly more complicated than just taking the first one that comes along because there are different trolley routes.

Gatlinburg trolley

The color-coded trolley routes are as follows:

  • Blue – East Parkway, Community Center, Rocky Top Sports World, Library, Ripley’s Aquarium, Convention Center
  • Purple – North Parkway, Spur Welcome Center, Ripley’s Aquarium, Convention Center
  • Yellow (April through December) – Ripley’s Aquarium to the Arts and Crafts community.

If you get on the wrong trolley, there is no worry about not getting back to where you started because all of the trolleys run in a loop. But you may have to ride longer than anticipated if you get on one going the wrong way. If you are not visiting the Arts and Crafts community, do not take the Yellow route. All of the trolleys are clearly labeled with their routes. If you’re not in a hurry and just want to ride around town to check things out, just jump on any of them!

You can view the trolley route map here.

The trolleys are also well-equipped to accommodate those with special needs, and the staff are well-trained in making sure that all of their passengers have comfortable and safe rides.

Two of the best places to park and ride are the Park N Ride lot at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center and the Mass Transit Center located at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Both locations allow you to park your vehicle for free so you can board a trolley. If you want to avoid Gatlinburg traffic altogether, your best bet is the Welcome Center. If you want to drive into town first and then park, go to the Aquarium.

The hours of operation are as follows:

Jan – Feb: Sunday – Thursday 10:30AM – 6:00PM, Friday – Saturday 10:30AM – 10:00PM

Mar – April: 10:30AM – 10:00PM

May – Oct: 8:30AM – Midnight

Nov – Dec: Sunday – Thursday 10:30AM – 6:00PM, Friday – Saturday 10:30AM – 10:00PM

Want to park one time for your entire stay and just forget about it? Book your room at Edgewater Hotel today.