We stayed at the Pigeon Forge Motor Lodge over Memorial Day weekend 2012. The hotel was reasonably priced, and the restroom/shower had just been renovated. The shower was a unit style, but looked to be brand new. The AC worked very well, and the beds were a little hard, but comfortable. I would like for hotels to use fitted bottom sheets, but many do not, and this facility was the same. There was a pool that looked very inviting but we simply didn't have time to try it out. They also offered a breakfast, but we decided to eat out. They also had internet service that worked well. The location on the Parkway is very convenient. The key to traffic in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is to get a local map of both towns and use the back roads as opposed to the main drags. Traffic on US 441 (the main roads in both towns) can be oppressive during the afternoon. If you plan your access to your destinations via the back roads, you can beat the traffic nearly every time.
If you chose to visit here, be aware that the amounts shown on the signs for the hotels are usually per person, with a minimum of two people, do not include taxes, and are higher on holidays and weekends. So don't expect to pay $29.99 per night. The actual cost is not outside what should be expected. We paid in the range of $60 per night.
People here are just good ole' country people, and are very friendly. While there are dozens if not hundreds of attractions and shops in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, I HIGHLY recommend you allow at LEAST one full day to visit the park if you have not been there before. The staff is excellent, knowledgeable, and very helpful. The Rangers and volunteers really WANT to share their knowledge and experience. The 'quite walkways' (labeled alongside the park roads) are a real treat, and aren't used very much. They are short paths back into the forest, with no specific destinations. But they get you off the road, away from the roads and traffic and people. If you chose to take one of the major trails, be sure to get a trail map and a brochure of the particular trail you choose. There is a wealth of information in these, and that information makes a big difference in how much you take back with you from your visit.
The Smokys are home to a phenomenon claimed to be only visible here and in Indonesia; the synchronized fireflies. The normal season is near the end of May and the beginning of June, but there are years that they peak early so make sure to check before planning for this event. During normal seasons, there are so many visitors that the park service has to run shuttle service between the Sugarlands visitor center and the site. The wait time can be several hours. This year we were very blessed in that the fireflies were early, and we were allowed to visit the site on our own. After full darkness the fireflies will come out. I have read that this is mating season and this is part of the mating ritual. Whatever the case, there will be literally tens of thousands of them, and they will fire off in sync. Sometimes they will start at one side of the site and sync across as a wave. Sometimes the entire site will be dark, and then all fire off almost at once. If you happen to come during the peak season, and do not want to wait for the shuttles, you may be able to find lesser concentrations of fireflies in other locations. I found them last year in the main camp ground on the NC side of the park. They aren't as impressive, but you can still see the synchronization.
We also recommend visiting Cherokee, NC. There are SEVERAL excellent Native American museums, shows, and exhibits here, with many local artisans producing historically correct crafts. In addition many of the stores host local dancers performing traditional dances and performances for tips. We really enjoy visiting these folks and contributing to the local economy. And if you want to gamble, Harrah’s has a newly remodeled casino there. Camping and fishing abound, and there is a relatively easily accessed waterfall on Tribal Grounds called Mingo Falls. Anyone there can direct you to it. When you are driving to it, you will think you have missed it, but you haven't. Just watch for the signs. Well worth the couple of hundred steps and short hike at the top.
Besides the hiking and a cook out, be sure to stop to dip you feet into one of the creeks that cross the park. Be careful, because they can be powerful, but this is my favorite pastime in the park. Spending time by a creek. If you like a cascade or water fall experience, you will like the ones higher up in elevation. If you want to play in the water with the kids, then check out the lower elevations, like Cosby or Greenbriar on the TN side.
And for those that have limited time or mobility, make sure to visit Sugarlands and ask for the brochure for the 2 hour visit, and check out the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. It is a paved one way trip up into the park from Gatlinburg and back down with all the points of interest labeled and explained. Almost everything to be seen on this trail can be seen from your car.