Do you like to travel with your dog? Add these pet-friendly Smoky Mountains things to do to your vacation itinerary!
A trip to the Smoky Mountains isn’t just about picturesque drives on winding mountain roads or indulgent, belly-filling meals. It’s also a haven for unique Appalachian experiences, especially for dogs.
The Smokies have risen in popularity as a prime destination for pet owners, offering dog-friendly accommodations and a range of unexpected attractions that are sure to delight both pets and their owners.
Dog-Friendly Outdoor Activities in the Smokies
While the main attraction in this region of Tennessee and North Carolina is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, several other public lands abut the park, expanding the options for dog-friendly outdoor hiking and exploring.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Dog access is rather limited in the park to campgrounds, picnic areas, and paved roads. However, two trails are dog-friendly in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
- Gatlinburg Trail: This pathway is located 1.9 miles between Sugarlands Visitor Center to an outlying area of Gatlinburg. You’ll walk along a sidewalk part of the way and through woods the rest of the way.
- Ocanaluftee River Trail: About 1.5 miles between the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Cherokee North Carolina, this trail is perfect for dogs who like playing in the water. It’s also a little less crowded than the Gatlinburg side.
NOTE: Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Depending on where you are staying, you can easily reach Pisgah National Forest, Cherokee National Forest, or Nantahala National Forest. Dogs are welcome on most trails and public spaces in these national forests, but you must keep them on a leash.
Pisgah is a great option if you’re looking for a challenging hike with many waterfalls. Nantahala is a better choice for a more relaxed hike with plenty of dog-friendly amenities. And if you’re looking for a good variety of trails, Cherokee is a good option.
TIP: Take note of any trail’s difficulty to confirm that your dog can handle it. The local ranger’s office is a good place to check for new restrictions before confirming a trip as well.
River Rat Tubing & Rafting
Townsend Tennessee is among the most popular rafting spots in the Smokies. People seek out the whitewater rapids on the Little River.
For a more laid-back experience, hop on a giant tube and ride the river. Dogs under 50 pounds are allowed to tube at River Rat Tubing & Rafting.
NOTE: Not all vendors share this dog-friendly attitude.
Smoky Mountains Dog Parks
Given the bears and snakes that roam the Smokies, the local dog park is one of the safest outdoor spaces for dogs. You’ll have options on both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park:
- Mills Dog Park in Gatlinburg TN
- Unleashed PetSafe Dog Park in Sevierville TN
- Waynesville Dog Park in North Carolina
- Canton Dog Park in North Carolina
Check the listing for each park because not all offer fresh water on-site. Most provide two areas — one for small dogs and one for larger dogs. Pet waste containers are provided, but bring your own bags just in case they run out.
NOTE: Most parks are open from dawn to dusk.
Dog-Friendly Attractions in the Smokies
Some of the major attractions in the Smoky Mountains are open to dogs, but you should strongly consider your pet’s anxiety levels in crowds before choosing an option. Dogs that can handle the hustle, bustle, and noise can enjoy the following destinations.
In September 2020, Gatlinburg’s popular SkyPark became dog-friendly, including the SkyLift, SkyBridge, SkyDeck, and SkyCenter. Enjoying this attraction means a 1,800-foot ascent on a ski lift. The ride takes nine minutes. Then, there’s the longest pedestrian cable bridge in the country, spanning more than 700 feet.
NOTE: Dogs must be leashed and well-behaved.
Dollywood doesn’t allow pets inside the park, but Doggywood just outside the park is where pets can play while you enjoy the park. Kennels and cottages are available for a day rate. You can even visit your pup and take it for a walk during the day.
The Island in Pigeon Forge
The heartbeat of Pigeon Forge is at The Island, and the outdoor spaces are dog-friendly as long as the dog is under leash control.
You’ll find amusement rides here, most of which won’t allow pets to board. It’s helpful for dogs to be part of large groups so that you can explore the “no dogs allowed” sections of The Island while the dog is still with a familiar face.
NOTE: Some shops here welcome pets, but that’s on a store-by-store basis.
Foxfire Adventure Park
Increase the adrenaline level of your dog-friendly Smokies vacation by crawling, climbing, zipping, and rafting through Foxfire Adventure Park, where well-behaved dogs are welcome. To be honest, they look sort of spoiled as well.
Of course, there are restrictions for pets on the zip lines, and until dogs grow thumbs, rock climbing is probably off the table. The views are amazing up here in Sevierville, though, and several dogs who live on the property make good doggy tour guides.
Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg
The Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg takes you through the haunted stories of Appalachia and the Cherokee. Dogs are welcome to walk along provided that they don’t scare anyone with bad behavior. For night tours, be sure that your dog has a reflective collar and leash.
Smoky Mountains Shopping With Your Dog
In the Smokies, you can do more than just shop for your dog. You can shop WITH your dog! Several locations welcome dogs — one will even start the path to social media stardom!
Great Smokies Flea Market
Head up to Kodak, north of Sevierville, for the 1,000+ Great Smokies Flea Market vendors. You’ll walk around 200,000 square feet of shopping space, with plenty of pet treats and toys along the way. Your leashed pet is welcome.
The Village Shops
The quaint shopping district of The Village Shops in Gatlinburg welcomes pets to walk around. Some of the stores are pet-friendly, but that’s on a case-by-case basis. The European theme of this outdoor space will make a perfect family photo op. And, with just 27 stores, there’s a little more breathing room for everyone.
Holly & Willow’s Pet Barn
Holly & Willow’s Pet Barn in Gatlinburg welcomes and treats pets like royalty. Every time you visit, there’s a new photo booth for your furry friend. With your approval, pet photos will be posted on the Facebook page for the Pet Barn.
It’s a perfect place to pick up a new collar or T-shirt for your pet, and you can try them on while you’re there.
Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery
Waynesville ranks high on our list of dog-friendly towns in the Smokies, at least on the North Carolina side. The owner of Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery says dogs are so welcome that they consider the town the “Cheers” of the Smokies — everyone is welcome and celebrated when they walk in the door.
From fresh homemade dog biscuits to treats by the pound, you won’t be able to resist the doggone good options here. It’s okay if your dog drools in the aisles too. Who can blame it?
Mast General Store
Walk just 300 feet up the street to Mast General Store in Waynesville for a dog-friendly shopping option. It has an outdoor outfitters shop mixed with unique Appalachian treats and a section just for dogs. And, fall visitors should check the schedule or Dogs Day Out at The Mast.
You’ve Been Warned: The Waynesville community works closely with several dog rescues. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking a new dog home.
Dog-Friendly Restaurants in the Smokies
It’s a good rule of thumb that dogs are allowed if you see a Smoky Mountains restaurant with an outdoor patio. For obvious sanitary reasons, dogs can’t be inside where food is being made.
Even with the abundance of outdoor patios and decks, a few restaurants in the Smokies really stand out for their dog-friendly delights.
Fox and Parrot Tavern
Maybe they should rename it the Fox, Parrot, and Dog for all the pups that prefer to visit this dog-friendly tavern. The Fox and Parrot Tavern is the only authentic English pub in the Smokies. We know how much Brits love their dogs, and this pub has welcomed them for 20 years!
Among the unique menu items — like Bangers and Mash — you have more than two dozen drafts and a handful of ciders to choose from. A robust tea menu rounds out the drinks.
Dogs will be offered fresh water upon entry. Also, the tavern is located on a 2-acre Gatlinburg plot, so there’s plenty of room to roam when it’s time to “go.”
Tennesee Jed’s Gatlinburg
While we can’t make any promises, we hear that the dog-friendly patio at Tennessee Jed’s sometimes includes a free piece of bacon. Your pet will get fresh water and lots of “Who’s a good dog?” while you sit down to eat.
The patio is elevated above the parkway but still offers great views. Plus, the restaurant sells meat by the pound here, so at least your dog’s nose will get a good workout.
Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill
Southern cookin’ fried right is served in Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill, a more discreet location facing River Road. It has an ideal deck for dogs who might easily get overstimulated.
The food includes fantastic names — like the Hillbilly Philly and Love Tractor. Plus, pups can get a treat of their own with complimentary water. And just across the street, you can walk along the river away from the Parkway crowds.
Another reason to love the Smokies is that even an upscale steakhouse is still as downhome and dog-friendly as anywhere else. The porch at Howard’s Restaurant ups the ante with a creek flowing alongside it, while everything from fried green tomatoes to a porterhouse steak rounds out the menu.
BONUS! The patio has heat lamps for chilly nights.
Howard’s has been serving steaks since 1946. Dogs are celebrated on the patio, and yours might make the next Instagram post.
Frog Level Brewing
Heading back to Waynesville, there’s a dog-friendly beer garden at Frog Level Brewing. There’s a patio, picnic area and creekside seating area. You (or at least your dog) will be happy to see the dog dishes on the menu.
Additionally, you can enjoy live music without being in a rush for the table to be cleared. Once you get a table, sit back and enjoy an afternoon with other dog owners.
The Smokies’ Doggy Daycare Spots
You don’t want traveling with a pet to hold you back from areas in the Smokies where dogs aren’t allowed, but finding a location where you can safely leave your pet for a few hours or the night might seem challenging.
We’ve researched the highest-rated and best doggy daycares where we would feel comfortable taking our own pets.
Smoky Dog Lodge
The Smoky Dog Lodge in Sevierville has truly thought of it all. Along with daycare, boarding, and grooming, it offers shuttle pick-up and drop-off services, pet enrichment classes, and basic training. Dogs are grouped by size and temperament, and climate-controlled kennels are available for those who need a nap.
Discounts are available for multiple pets, and daycare is available for half or full-day rates. Dogs that are boarding for the night get to play at daycare too.
Smoky Mountain Pet Resort
Things are done a little differently for doggy daycare at the Smoky Mountain Pet Resort in Sevierville. This is a great option for dogs that might not like meeting new dogs so much. Each dog gets its own space and only mingles with the attentive humans on site.
In addition, cats are welcome. If you happen to be traveling to the Smokies with your guinea pig or parrot, those animals are welcome as well.
NOTE: You can pay by overnight boarding or by the hour.
The Wag Social
Any dog owner can’t help but smile when they see the fancy amenities of The Wag Social. Touted as a “luxury getaway for dogs,” three doggy daycare spaces cover indoors and outdoors with various obstacle courses for dogs to explore. And, you can choose from a list of services at the dog spa.
Boarding accommodations include everything from small spaces for dogs who like the comfort of a crate to extra-large rooms for those who like to roam or for multiple family dogs.
Dog-Friendly Resorts in the Smoky Mountains
If there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling with my golden retrievers across this great country, it’s that not all “dog-friendly” lodging is friendly to all dogs. Always check the weight restrictions, expecting most hotels and resorts in the Smokies to have a weight limit of around 60 pounds per pet.
NOTE: You can also expect to pay either a per-day fee around $25 or a full-stay fee around $125.
This is a popular resort for the whole family. While it’s in Gatlinburg, it’s not at the center of the packed Parkway. Two dogs are allowed per night, weighing no more than 60 pounds each. Dogs aren’t allowed to be left alone in the room, and only certain rooms or villas are designated for dogs, so confirm when you book.
Don’t confuse this lodge with the Margaritaville locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It’s perfectly positioned between the two and offers dog-friendly rooms. We love that there’s even a Barkaritaville Pet Park on the property. Oh, and a whole bunch of amusements and water activities for people too.
NOTE: Up to two dogs, with each weighing no more than 50 pounds, are allowed.
Back in our pet-friendly city of Waynesville, the Grandview Lodge has the loosest pet restrictions we can find in a hotel. There’s no weight limit, dogs (or cats) can be left alone in the rooms, dogs are welcome to the outdoor dining area, and there’s a large space to walk the dogs in the woods. Also, you get a great rustic vibe from this charming lodge.
The stay at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort on the “quieter side of the Smokies” in Townsend is as unique as the dog-friendly amenities. Here, you can choose from glamping, camping, or tiny homes.
Designated pet-friendly sites are marked on the booking site. A dog park is on the property, and the resort offers pet-sitting for those who need to leave their dogs alone for the day. There are no size limits, either.
Smoky Mountains Dog-Friendly Cabins
You might want to consider a cabin rental for bigger dogs so that there’s more room for Rover. And as always, check the fine print.
This Gatlinburg cabin has views of Mt. Leconte, Black Bear Falls, and two porches to soak it all in. For a small pet fee, your dog of any size can stay here. There’s even a fenced-in area for dogs to explore.
With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, six people can stay in this charming slice of Smoky Mountain majesty. Plus, the Little Pigeon River is just five minutes away.
This Sevierville cabin masterpiece is a top choice when bringing a large group and several pets. Up to three dogs (no weight limit) are allowed with a per-dog fee. The cabin sleeps up to 12 people, with a hot tub, game room, and outdoor grassy area for pets to explore (on a leash).
This Sevierville location welcomes dogs and cats with a limit of three per stay. The home has three bedrooms with an outdoor fenced-in area for dogs to play while humans soak in the hot tub or enjoy the fire pit.
Where Pets Are NOT Allowed in the Smokies
As important as it is to know what places are dog-friendly, it helps to know which ones you can rule out as well. This information isn’t always easy to find quickly, so we’ve done the legwork for you. These places don’t allow dogs:
- Ober Mountain
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
- Cataloochee Ski Area
Planning Your Pet-Friendly Smoky Mountains Getaway Itinerary
Ultimately, when planning a dog-friendly Smokies trip, it’s important to think about what is best for your dog. As much as you might want to explore the SkyBridge, will your dog be able to handle a nine-minute ride on an open ski lift?
Do you feel comfortable having your dog in an area where bears roam? Does your pup get nervous in large crowds? Have you been steadily giving your dog flea and tick prevention, especially considering the abundance of ticks in the Smokies?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Neither Tennessee nor North Carolina recognize emotional support animals as certified service animals.
We hope we’ve given you various options, including safe places to keep your pet if they get overstimulated and a whole lot of places to have some doggone good times.