Gatlinburg is a tourist hub that sees millions of visitors every year. Despite this, there is no commercial airport in Gatlinburg so you cannot fly directly into Gatlinburg. Thankfully, there are plenty of airports nearby.
What are the airports near Gatlinburg, TN? Check out our curated list below of the seven closest airports.
The Top Airports Near Gatlinburg
The closest airport to Gatlinburg is the McGhee-Tyson Airport (TYS) in Alcoa Tennessee. This Airport will also get you close to Pigeon Forge (home of Dollywood!), another tourist hot spot. Depending on where you are coming from and your plans you may find that other airports are better suited to planning your trip.
- Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport – Gatlinburg, Tennessee (KGKT)
- McGhee-Tyson Airport – Alcoa, Tennessee (TYS)
- Asheville Regional Airport – Asheville, North Carolina (AVL)
- Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport – Greer, South Carolina (GSP)
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport – Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT)
- Nashville International Airport – Nashville, Tennessee (BNA)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Charlotte, North Carolina (ATL)
1. Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport – Gatlinburg
Are you wondering, “Does Gatlinburg have an airport?” The answer is yes. Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport is located in Gatlinburg and is technically the closest airport, but the vast majority of visitors to the town don’t use it as it services private charter planes only.
Best for: Those traveling via private charter plane.
2. McGhee-Tyson Airport – Alcoa, Tennessee
What airport is closest to Gatlinburg, TN? McGhee-Tyson Airport is around 41 miles from Gatlinburg and is the closest airport to Gatlinburg, TN.
It is located in Alcoa, just to the south of Knoxville, and is a medium-sized airport. All three major domestic airlines serve the airport: Delta, United, and American. You can also catch flights on the smaller airlines of Allegiant and Frontier from this airport.
It takes just over an hour to drive from the McGhee-Tyson Airport to Gatlinburg, and there are eight car rental companies operating out of the airport: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Dollar and Payless.
Best for: This airport is best for those who want to minimize their driving time, as the drive from McGhee-Tyson is shorter than the drive from the rest of the airports.
However, given that the airport is smaller than some other major airports in the area, it’s only suitable for those traveling from other locations in the U.S.
3. Asheville Regional Airport – Asheville, North Carolina
The closest airport in North Carolina to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Asheville Regional Airport is fairly small but is still served by Delta, United, and American airlines. It is also serviced by Allegiant, Sprint, and Elite airlines, though these flights are seasonal.
The drive from Asheville Regional Airport to Gatlinburg is 89 miles and typically takes one hour and 40 minutes. There are eight car rental options to choose from: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.
Best for: Those traveling to the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park before traveling on to Gatlinburg. Again, given that Asheville is not an international airport, this option is only for those traveling from within the U.S.
4. Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport – Greer, South Carolina
The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is the closest international airport to Gatlinburg. Located in Greer, South Carolina, the airport is a short distance from both Greenville and Spartanburg.
The three major domestic airlines of Delta, United, and American all serve the airport, as do the smaller airlines of Allegiant, Frontier, and Southwest.
It takes two hours and 37 minutes to drive the 150 miles to Gatlinburg from the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. There are six car rental options available: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National.
Best for: Those who want to minimize their driving time and are coming from more distant locations not connected to the above airports.
5. Charlotte Douglas International Airport – Charlotte, North Carolina
The closest major airport to Gatlinburg is North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which also happens to be the second-largest hub of American Airlines.
The international airlines operating here include Air Canada and Lufthansa, while all three major domestic airlines serve the airport. There is also a selection of smaller airlines operating out of the airport: Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Sprint, Contour, Ultimate Air, and Volaris.
The drive from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Gatlinburg is three hours and 20 minutes, which covers a distance of 194 miles. There are eight car rental companies available, including Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National.
Best for: International travelers and those traveling to the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
6. Nashville International Airport – Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville International Airport is another airport in Tennessee near Gatlinburg. The large airport is served by three major domestic airlines and three international airlines, including Air Canada, British, and WestJet.
Smaller and regional airlines also serve the airport, including Alaska, Allegiant, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Cape Air, Contour, Southern Airways, Sun Country, and Ultimate Air.
It takes three hours and 30 minutes to reach Gatlinburg from the Nashville International Airport, which is 216 miles away. The car rental options available are Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty.
Best for: International travelers and those visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the Tennessee side.
7. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Atlanta, Georgia
A large and prominent airport, the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is Delta’s primary hub.
All three major domestic airlines serve the airport, as do the international airlines of Air Canada, British, and WestJet. The smaller and regional carriers at the airport include Alaska, Allegiant, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Cape Air, Contour, Southern Airways, Sun Country, and Ultimate Air.
With a drive time of four hours and 10 minutes, this is the furthest airport from Gatlinburg out of those deemed to be near the town.
Travelers have the choice of eight car rental options, including Advantage, Airport Rent a Car, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, EZ Rent a Car, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt, and Thrifty.
Best for: International travelers who don’t mind the longer driving time. Depending on airfares, flying a shorter distance and driving a longer distance may be the cheaper option.
Planning & Resources For Your Visit To Gatlinburg
- Gatlinburg’s peak season is June through August. There’s also considerable congestion in October and December through early January. To miss the crowds, your best bet is to visit during the months of February, March, April, May, September, and November.
- Even beyond peak season, Gatlinburg can feel much busier than other cities. To avoid lines, try to get to each attraction as early as possible. It pays to start your day at dawn and arrive at the most popular places before the hordes of other travelers. When it comes to eating dinner, try arriving at the restaurant at 4 p.m.
- The weather in Gatlinburg varies between seasons. Summer is usually hot with temperatures in the 80s, but the evenings and early mornings can still be chilly, as the town is located in the mountains. Summer in Gatlinburg also tends to be less humid than in other nearby areas due to the town’s elevation. Meanwhile, winter brings very cold temperatures but rarely any snow. Be sure to pack accordingly with layered clothing.
- Pack the right items when visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Don’t forget hiking boots, sneakers, sunscreen, bug spray, clothing that’s appropriate for the season, and a camera.
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park is huge. Rather than attempting to see the whole park in one day, prepare your itinerary in advance by choosing a few highlights you want to see.
- Watch out for bears. Bear sightings are frequent in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and it’s illegal to intentionally approach within 150 feet of a bear. If you do see a bear, the National Park Service advises remaining watchful of the bear and either continuing on your journey if the bear doesn’t notice you, or backing away slowly if it does. The website contains several other tips for bear safety, noting that if a bear begins to follow you or shows aggression, use a deterrent such as a stout stick, discharge bear spray, or act aggressively to intimidate the bear.
- Gatlinburg has two sister cities: Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood, one of the most famous attractions in the country. Dollywood is less than a 20-minute drive from Gatlinburg, although the times can increase significantly due to traffic.
- Traffic can be overwhelming in Gatlinburg. If you are driving in the city, try to avoid rush hour and only use the roads mid-morning and mid-afternoon. A great alternative to driving in Gatlinburg is taking the Gatlinburg Trolley, which stops at numerous points around town and is completely free to ride. Luckily, many of the most popular attractions in Downtown Gatlinburg are within walking distance of one another. Also note that parking can be expensive in the busiest parts of Gatlinburg, costing anywhere from $10 to $20 per day.
- There are plenty of accommodation options in Gatlinburg. You’ll find lodging for every type of traveler, from up-market resorts with mountain views to cabin rentals. However, you might prefer to stay in Pigeon Forge or Sevierville, depending on your itinerary.
The five best-rated hotels in Gatlinburg are:
- Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg – $$
- Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa – $$
- The Lodge at Buckberry Creek – $$
- Bent Creek Golf Village Resort by Diamond Resorts – $$
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations Gatlinburg-Smoky Mountains – $$
The best attractions to see in Gatlinburg include:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Anakeesta Amusement Park
- Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Ober Gatlinburg
- Gatlinburg Space Needle
- Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
- The Village Shops
- Gatlinburg Mountain Mall
- Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community
A great way to save money in Gatlinburg is to book your tickets to certain attractions online. Attractions such as the Gatlinburg Space Needle and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offer cheaper tickets for online purchases.
Your Onward Journey To ‘Gatlinburg’
The most popular way to reach Gatlinburg is to drive there from one of the nearby airports. The small airport known as Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport is very limited and usually services private jets only (via History Fan Girl).
Driving from the nearby airports takes an average of three to four hours, and all the airports offer rental cars if you don’t want to bring your own car.
There are several different routes to take to Gatlinburg from the various nearby airports, and a resource such as MapQuest can help you to find the quickest or most scenic one.
Snow can make driving more dangerous, but snow is rare in the Smoky Mountains. To completely avoid the chance of snowfall during your drive, consider traveling outside the months of December through February.