Category Archives: Handicap Friendly Smoky Mountains

Find great places to visit that don’t require a good deal of walking and that provide areas for special needs.

Smoky Mountain Recommendations For The Visually Impaired

As part of our series on providing recommendations for attractions that have disability access for disabled guests, we have a handful of attractions here that have programs and processes for the visually impaired visiting the Smokies. These items include links to their relevant web pages and their official statements.

* The Alcatraz Museum in Pigeon Forge *

“Alcatraz East welcomes the general public to its exhibitions and programs. Tickets are required for admission. Visitors who need special assistance to tour Alcatraz East or participate in its programs should contact Alcatraz East a minimum of fourteen days prior to their visit so that Alcatraz East will have sufficient time to arrange for appropriate assistance. Alcatraz East will make a reasonable effort to accommodate all of its visitors’ needs.

Audio tours are available for our guests with severe vision impairments. Trained service animals are permitted to accompany visitors with disabilities. For guests with lighting sensitivity, a flashlight may be requested.”

See more on their website at:
https://www.alcatrazeast.com/accessibility/


* Wonderworks in Sevierville *

“WonderWorks welcomes the general public to enjoy an interactive experience and will make a reasonable effort to accommodate any special needs. Visitors who need special assistance should contact WonderWorks 72 hours prior to their visit allowing sufficient time to arrange for appropriate assistance. WonderWorks will make a reasonable effort to accommodate all of its visitors’ needs.

Trained service animals are permitted to accompany visitors with disabilities. Exhibits that focus on the sense of touch and feel include: Hurricane Shack, Titanic, Bed of Nails, Pull Yourself Up and Wonder Simulators.

In accordance with the American Disabilities Act, service dogs or service mini horses are allowed. The approved service animal(s) must be trained to perform a specific service. We do not allow therapy animals.”

See more on their website at:
www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/privacy-and-ada-policy/.


* Titanic Museum *

“The Titanic Museum Attractions are self-guided with an audio guide included in your purchase to enhance the tour. The museum has elevators available for all wheelchairs and strollers.”

See more on their website at:
https://titanicpigeonforge.com/tickets/general-inquiry-frequently-asked-questions/


* The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge *

“The Old Mill property and its businesses are completely handicap-accessible for our guests. Many of the entrances are on the ground level; those that are elevated have ramps.

Walkways are made of concrete, brick, and stone and can be a little bumpy in some places for guests in wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and children in strollers, but they are all passable by wheelchairs. Guests who are visually impaired should be able to navigate the more organic paths with a little care.”

See more on their website at:
https://www.old-mill.com/accessibility


* Ghost Walks of Gatlinburg *

“Most every place we will take you on our tour is accessible by wheelchair. But please be aware that some areas may present a greater challenge than others… such as leaving the paved surface to explore the cemetery (which is also uphill)… as well as other parts of the tour that are a part of the downtown area of the City of Gatlinburg. We will make every effort to assist the handicapped.”

See more on their website at:
https://www.ghostwalkofgatlinburg.com/policies


* Dolly Parton’s Stampede *

“Our family of six recently headed to Sevierville for spring break and decided to check out Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Our family is unique because in addition to multiple ages and stages of life represented, we also have different abilities. Our eleven-year-old daughter is functionally blind and we are always on the lookout for family experiences that feel inclusive for her. Stampede is a wonderful show that includes tons of visual elements, but we observed many great auditory and kinetic elements that made Lola feel included, too. The audience is asked to stomp their feet instead of clapping—mostly because hands are occupied with eating whole chickens!—but the result is much louder than simply clapping. Additionally, the stadium seats literally vibrate when the audience stomps. This is a wonderful element for a visually impaired child to experience. The emcee of the night, who is charismatic and fun, also describes every event in detail. If the pigs are coming out for a race, you know exactly what’s happening without having to rely on sight! Lola was a full participant in every moment and that made the experience even more special for our family. She also loved meeting the performers and petting the horses at the end of the show—all of the kids did, in fact!”

See more on their website at:
https://insiders.dollywood.com/dolly-partons-stampede-a-sensory-and-action-packed-adventure/

Trout Farm

Kids Love The Trout Farm!

Have you heard of The English Mountain Trout Farm?  Located in the Sevierville area just off 411 are several attractions we know the kids and the family will enjoy.  One of them is The English Mountain Trout Farm.

Enjoy a beautiful ride to a less visited area of Sevier County and the Smoky Mountains English Mountain Trout Farm is located at 291 Blowing Cave Rd., Sevierville, Tennessee 37876.  English Mountain Trout Farm has a little bit of fun for all ages.  You don’t have to have children with you to enjoy your visit, however, we highly recommend this visit for toddlers and children.  This attraction is also a very good wheelchair accessible location for those with special needs.

At the Trout Farm you can catch your fish and have them cook it for you!  You Hook ‘Em and We’ll Cook ‘Em you will hear them say!  Bait, fishing poles and fishing attendants are all part of the experience when you pay your small fee for your license for the time you are fishing. If you prefer to just enjoy their delicious Trout, then you can simply order and eat, they are known for their delicious home cooked foods.

Dine In or Take Out, Outdoor Seating, High chairs and wheelchair access makes The English Mountain Trout Farm one of our favorite picks for things to do with Toddlers and Children in the Smoky Mountains.’ Did we mention the Gem Mine?  Oh my, who knew it was so much fun to Gem Mine. The kids will love it and so will you.  This is such a great place for families!

The English Mountain Trout Farm is highly rated by Trip Advisor and others. Expect a wonderful experience when you visit.

https://www.englishmountaintroutfarm.net

National Park

Great Experiences for Special Needs Part 1: National Park Attractions

One question we see visitors, interested parties and even some locals is where they can find special needs accessibility for themselves or their child, parent, grandparent, etc. Certainly the idea of spending a family reunion in the Smokies or getting out in the fresh air to enjoy the wonderful nature and events we have for Spring and Summer is universally appealing, but for those with special needs, they face challenges many of us who do not have special needs take for granted. We do not normally have to take into consideration whether a tourism area with extreme elevation differences is going to be a barrier or not.

Fortunately, technology advancement for special needs visitors of all ages has made leaps and bounds in the last decade alone and continues to do so. In this article, as of Spring 2022, we have the following recommendations to make for how our visitors can enjoy the many attractions, restaurants, events and more that Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the rest of Sevier County offer!

National Park Attractions

* Cades Cove *
Cades Cove is an 11-mile driveable loop near Townsend, TN, that does not require visitors to get out of their car or vehicle to enjoy the sights and atmosphere. Cades Cove is easily accessed via Little River Road or Wears Valley Road to Townsend. Cades Cove will provide opportunity to see a variety of past scenes from settlers in the Cove to wildlife that you can keep an eye out for such as turkeys, raccoons, white tailed deer, bears and even coyotes. Some establishments are accessible by wheelchair, but not all as a measure of preservation to the buildings. There are several pull-off locations, one with a visitors center that will be friendly to special needs.

See more on Cades Cove at https://wearsvalleyvisitorscenter.com/cades-cove-wears-valley/.

 

* Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail *
Roaring Fork is a 5.5-mile driveable loop that does not require visitors to get out of their car or vehicle to enjoy the sights and atmosphere. It is a one way loop that takes you through the Twin Creeks and Roaring Fork areas of the park. You will find pull-off locations and end the vehicle trail at Ely’s Mill, which is one of the most beautiful areas of Gatlinburg.

See more on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at https://gatlinburgrecovers.com/2019/07/08/gorgeous-roaring-fork-in-the-smokies/.

 

* Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail *
A walking nature trail near the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg that is completely paved and accessible for people with wheelchairs, mobility scooters or similar special needs. It is a 0.5-mile trail that goes deep into the woods and features safely accessible terrain to get close to the water.

See more on Sugarlands at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm.

* Little River Trail *
Little River Trail is a 6-mile walking trail near Elkmont that can be accessed with wheelchairs and crutches, however it is not paved like Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is and may not be a fit for all special needs visitors. The first mile of the trail is reported to be smooth enough for powered wheelchairs up to the first mile or mile and a half. Little River Trail is deep into the woods and has trail space next to water like Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail.

See more on Little River Trail at https://hikinginthesmokys.com/little-river-trail/.

* Clingman’s Dome *
Famously considered one of the steeper and more potentially difficult trails in the Smokies, Clingman’s Dome is nonetheless fully paved and some special needs visitors have reported being able to do the 0.5-mile trail and reach the Observation Tower. Curb Free With Cory Lee reports that he was able to reach the Observation Tower in his powered wheelchair. Visitors with a manual wheelchair or crutches may also be able to reach the Observation Tower with assistance. Discretion is advised. Special needs parking is also available and views across the Smokies are immediate just from the parking lot alone.

See more on Clingman’s Dome at https://themountainsarecallingyou.com/2022/03/26/get-to-know-clingmans-dome/.

* Mountain Farm Museum *
Mountain Farm Museum is at the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center on the other side of Newfound Gap near Cherokee, NC, and both the farm museum and visitor’s center are accessible for special needs visitors. The path to the Mountain Farm Museum is hard-packed gravel and may require assistance under certain conditions (such as weather), but the historic house on the property has an access ramp. The visitor’s center is fully accessible.

See more on Mountain Farm Museum at https://www.greatsmokies.com/mtn-farm-museum/.

* Gatlinburg City Parks *
While not being (totally) within the boundaries of the official national park, the multiple city parks we have in Gatlinburg are all deeply surrounded by the same thick forestry and access to water streams and bodies that our hiking trails have. Gatlinburg has three parks: Mynatt, Miles, and Herbert Holt, each of which offer pavilions, stream access, bathroom facilities with special needs accessibility, and often wildlife can be spotted in the parks as well. City parks are also typically open during times when the National Park might not be (for weather or similar reasons) and may be considered a safer alternative for enjoying Smoky Mountain nature when other attractions may not be available.

See more on Gatlinburg City Parks at https://smokymountainwelcomeguide.com/free-area-parks/.

There are many other attractions and items of interest in our area that offer special needs accessibility, but these are the main ones we felt a decent list should start with.

More information can be found on these links:
– The Smoky Mountains For Special Needs Visitors Part 2
Scooters And Wheelchair Rentals And Sales
Cory Lee’s “A Wheelchair Accessible Great Smoky Mountains National Park Travel Guide”.
Best Wheelchair Friendly In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

“Who has special needs accessibility in  our special needs [group member] be comfortable enjoying the Smoky Mountains? We are happy to report that the Great Smoky Mountains and the area around in its communities and attractions are indeed friendly to those with special needs. In our article we hope to provide you with helpful information for your special person to enjoy the Smoky Mountains.

Find Scooter and other Rentals Here!

Metcalf Bottoms is a picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that is also located along Little River Road or accessible via Wears Valley Road. Metcalf Bottoms is a spacious area with a picnic pavilion that can be reserved through recreation.gov. We love Metcalf Bottoms as an accessible area in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Herbert Holt Park in Gatlinburg, Mynatt Park in Gatlinburg and Metcalf Bottoms in the Wears Valley area of the National Park all have fishing opportunities for everyone.  Kids can fish free!  Learn more about the Free Parks in the area here.

Attractions and Dining

There are several areas in the Smokies we would recommend for those who use a scooter or wheelchair as they offer special spacious areas and accommodations.  The Island in Pigeon Forge would be a favorite.   Offering drop off and parking locations specifically for those who are chair bound, The Island is a pleasant experience.  Enjoy a meal, do some shopping, sit and watch the fountains (and the people!)

The Mountain Mile in Pigeon Forge is a spacious, multi experience area where they have set up space and activities for people of all kinds to enjoy.  Some of today’s hottest names in retail are at the Mountain Mile.  Enjoy a meal at Junction 35 or pick up some spirits to take to your cabin.  Enjoy a spacious area for walking, riding, enjoying the beautiful area they have created.  You will find The Mountain Mile at the corner of Teaster Lane and East Wears Valley Road in Pigeon Forge.

Walden’s Landing is a great choice for a good experience!  Spacious parking with accommodating restaurants make this area a good choice if you have a chair bound member in your group.   Shopping, attractions and restaurants will be fun and accommodating to all!  Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud is a family favorite!

We know the Wonderworks, The Titanic, and the Alcatraz museum are also great stops.  All of the larger attractions will have accommodations for those with scooters or wheelchairs where possible.

The Fun Time Trolley System is Handicap and Wheelchair friendly.  Learn about their paratransit pass if you live within 3/4th of a mile of the route.  You can locate Scooter Sales and Rentals on the parkway in Pigeon Forge at 3536 Parkway.  https://www.pigeonforge.com/trolley/
\
What about Sensory Friendly?
Those on the Autism Spectrum may find they need a sensory friendly area to enjoy the Smoky Mountains.  Several of the attractions in the area provide a sensory friendly area for those who are especially sensitive to over stimulation.  Dollywood is very friendly to special needs, just ask!  Wonderworks hosts 10 Sensory Friendly days each year and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies hosts a Sensory Friendly Night at the Aquarium for those who are interested.  Don’t be afraid to ask!  We want you to have a fantastic vacation as our guest.

These Menus At Sunliner Diner Restaurant in Pigeon Forge

In this small article, we wanted to highlight a recent trip to the Sunliner Diner restaurant in Pigeon Forge and their clever integration of Pigeon Forge identity and the listing of food items and services commonly referred to as a “menu”. We just wanted to highlight this bit of creativity you can find from a newer and very popular restaurant in our area!

Yes, the menu for their burgers, fries, chicken tenders, waffles, chicken and waffles, appetizers, meatloaf, fish and chips, sandwiches and more are all printed on the back of this page. It’s a wonderfully nice touch for a restaurant designed to make you feel like you’ve gone back a couple eras!

See the Sunliner Diner online at https://www.sunlinerdiner.com/pigeon-forge/.

Fudge Shops In The Smokies

Want to know what some of the most varied unsung heroes of Smoky Mountain tourism are? The fudge shoppes. From downtown Gatlinburg to midway through Sevierville, the main connected road has more than a few cocoa confectionery places with a variety of flavors to suit tastes, along with sugar-free fudge available at many of the stores. Most fudge that can be purchased come in candy stores that offer even more taste-tackular options for the sugar-craven.

Here are some fudge places to hop through listed here:

* Old Mill Candy Kitchen *
177 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(877)-653-6455
https://old-mill.com/

From their website:
“Appalachia has long been a haven for homemade candies. The Old Mill Candy Kitchen proudly carries on this regional tradition, with fudges, brittles, divinity, caramels, taffy, hand-dipped chocolates, and hard candies to satisfy every sweet tooth. From bubbling copper kettles cooking up brittle to our vintage taffy-wrapping machine, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen is filled with old-time candy-making fun. And we add a fresh twist with seasonal favorites and our own innovations like our famous Bear Paws. Stop by or shop online today!”

* Country Candy Kitchen *
3341 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
865-453-6006
http://countrycandykitchen.com/

From their website:
“See taffy being made daily in our stores (times vary somewhat). Choose your favorite flavors or grab a handful of assorted. The copper kettle fudge is our original recipe, and really is handmade in copper kettles. Choose assorted or your favorite flavor, a handy knife is included (Peanut Butters are not included in assortments). Marble slab homemade fudge is a new recipe and comes in 8 oz. slabs all the way up to 6 pound slabs. Great for parties and family get-togethers! Our hand-dipped chocolate candies come in an assortment of nut clusters, caramels, pecan turtles and jellies. A wonderful choice for gift giving or sampling.”

* Farmhouse Sweets *
3220 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(865) 366-1283
https://farmhouse-sweets.business.site/

* Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen *
744 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
865-436-4886
https://www.olesmokycandykitchen.com/

* Fudge Shoppe Of The Smokies *
716 Parkway #114, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-5052
https://www.fudgeshoppeofthesmokies.com/

From their website:
“Fresh delicious fudge. Seasonal and year around programs. Low minimum orders. We combine sugar, pure cream, butter, corn syrup and the base flavoring to make each batch. For example, we use real imported Dutched Chocolate for the chocolate bases and pure natural vanilla extract for the vanilla bases. All the base ingredients are combined in a big copper pot and cooked until they reach the correct temperature. The base is then poured onto a marble slab and allowed to cool. After about 10 minutes of creaming air into the fudge it begins to get thick and its much harder to toss. That’s when we swap out the paddle for a small spatula and continue the creaming process. The final step is for you to come and enjoy some for yourself!”

* Kilwin’s Chocolates *
645 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(888) 454-5946
https://www.kilwins.com/

From their website:
“We at Kilwins always enjoy serving you the highest quality, best tasting products we possibly can. As we work through the recovery phase of the pandemic our caring store owners are doing their best to serve you. Each store is now open subject to that store’s specific needs, requirements and guidance from national, state, and local authorities. We continue our concern and support for those impacted by the pandemic with our number one concern being health and safety. Please call your local store or select the “Locations” link at the top of this page to find a Kilwins store near you for store hours or any questions you may have. Thank you very much for your patronage, which we really appreciate. We continue to do our very best.”

* Chocolate Monkey *
2631 Parkway #1, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862
(865) 366-3181
https://chocolate-monkey.business.site/

1001 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Located in Ober Gatlinburg
(865) 436-8244

* The Fudgery *
131 The Island Dr #3106, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
865-774-7800
http://www.fudgeryfudge.com/

* Big Rock Candy Kitchen *
131 The Island Dr, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
(865)-366-1701
https://islandinpigeonforge.com/poi/big-rocky-candy-kitchen/

From their website:
“Homemade sweets and treats made from scratch. Between salt water taffy, creamy fudge, crisp caramel apples, gourmet popcorn and gelato you are sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth. Come on down, meet our friendly staff and taste the best candies in the Smokies! Free samples anyone?”

******************************************************************************

Guest Post: Driving Through Wears Valley

The following blog post was sent to us by a couple that recently visited Wears Valley for a rainy afternoon and took a drive through part of the new Foothills Parkway addition that connects Wears Valley to Townsend through the new extension. They wanted to tell us about their visit and showcase some pictures and video they took:

“Hello! We recently had the opportunity to take a little afternoon drive through Wears Valley as my husband and I hadn’t been through there in a while and wanted to find the Foothills Parkway entrance [from there].

We unfortunately chose a time of the day when the storm clouds were covering the sky and didn’t know if it was going to burst or not, so the pictures and video we took probably don’t look as great as pictures people take when it’s bright and sunny out, but oh well! My husband and I like storm clouds, anyway.

We couldn’t tour much of Wears Valley, so we decided on only a couple stops along before the Foothills Parkway. We didn’t eat yet and we really like donuts, so the first place we wanted to try to get some energy to start with. I had a glazed donut and a blueberry donut and they certainly woke me up! A nice treat that I plan to get the next time I come back through here. My husband had a chocolate iced and a maple frosted. He seemed to like the chocolate one more than the maple (he’s a chocohollic, so no surprise there) but he shared my sentiment of coming back to repeat the order. After that, we went next door to the Wears Valley Antique Gallery. I’ve been here a few times before, but it had been a few years since the last time and maybe a third of the store had been remodeled or was different than last time. They still had some really neat things that I wished I had room and money for, but couldn’t get. They had some moonshine and other locally made food items that I wanted to send back to family in Hawaii where I originally came from and I was happy to see they had sugar-free variations of those items for my mom and elder relatives (those aren’t too easy to find around here). Great sightseeing, and if I only had one stop I could make for fun in Wears Valley, it would be here.

After that, we were still hungry and ready for a proper lunch meal for the day. We debated between Hillbilly’s Restaurant and Geppetto’s Italian as we wanted to decide between a heavier food or an Italian kind of taste. We decided to go for a heavier food and went to Hillbilly’s. I thought the car on the sign was impressive enough, but I wasn’t expecting to see another one inside the restaurant! It wasn’t busy when we got in, so we got our food pretty quick. My husband had the Hillbilly Deluxe burger and I had the Little Granny’s (which was already 1/3 of a pound of hamburger and more than I could eat in one sitting, personally. If that’s the “Little” Granny, I wonder how big a “Big” Granny would be). The service was excellent and the sodas were crisp, which is a big thing for me and my husband, and after that it was time to take our trip to see the Foothills Parkway.

The video of that and the rest of the story are in the video link below. We did have a camera malfunction and some of our pictures didn’t come out right, but the video turned out well and other pictures that did come out right are attached. Thank you!”

– Ge’ne Kea

We got permission from Ge’ne Kea to post this blog here and on our other networks. Thank you Jeff and Ge’ne!