Tucked among the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee like a Great Smoky Mountain black bear nestled in its winter den, Gatlinburg has a rich historical heritage. Gatlinburg drew its first settlers, the Ogles of South Carolina, in 1807. Today Gatlinburg’s cabin rentals allow visitors to experience the same natural beauty that lured those early settlers, whose descendants still call the town their home.
Originally called White Oak Flats for the surrounding oak forests, Gatlinburg TN got its name with the 1856 opening of the Post Office in Radford Gatlin’s general store. With Great Smoky Mountain National Park looming on three sides, the small town of 3,700 has become one of the Southeast’s major tourist destinations.
Culture and Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN
A stay in Gatlinburg offers a full slate of indoor and outdoor activities. Hiking the mountain trails, fishing the mountain streams, visiting the area’s many historical sites or taking in the local arts and crafts and music venues can fill the days from morning to well after dark.
While it can’t match a Gatlinburg cabin rental for comfort and convenience, Martha Jane Ogle’s 1807 log home still stands. After the Ogle family sold their farm in 1921, the building served as a hospital and museum before being moved to its present site, where Gatlinburg’s first church once stood. In 1986, the home joined the National Register of Historic sites.
The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts now occupies the Ogle cabin’s original site in downtown Gatlinburg. Its predecessor, the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School, opened in 1912 to provide education for the mountain people. The Settlement School eventually developed an Appalachian arts and crafts curriculum that eventually revived national interest in traditional crafts. Visitors can view Gatlinburg’s master artisans at work in the Arrowmont studios and purchase finished items at the gift shops.
April sees spring returning to Gatlinburg. Along with it comes the annual Great Smoky Mountains National Park Music of the Mountains celebration. This weekend devoted to Appalachian mountain music culture includes a daylong free program of mountain music performed at the Sugarlands Visitor Center inside the National Park, just 3 miles from Gatlinburg.
Natural Attractions and Cabins in Gatlinburg
Their proximity to the National Park’s entrance makes cabins in Gatlinburg ideal as hiker lodgings. Novice hikers, bicyclists and dogs on leashes love the Gatlinburg Trail. This path covers an approximately 4 mile round trip from The Sugarlands Visitors Center into Gatlinburg and back.
The Ramsey Cascades’ 8 mile round trip starts at Greenbrier Cove some 10 miles from Gatlinburg and leads along the Little Pigeon River. It passes through pristine mountain forests of tulip trees, hemlocks, black cherries and giant chestnut oaks. The hiker’s ultimate reward is the sight of the 100-foot Cascades tumbling down eight descending ledges.
A colorful history, vibrant mountain culture and breathtaking natural surroundings make Gatlinburg TN the perfect solo, romantic or family getaway. A mountainside, creek bank or shady forest glade waits with the right cabin rental to complete the escape.