Drat. I Bogeyed That Outhouse.


Destinations, June 1997

Drat. I Bogeyed That Outhouse.

Found too much solitude in the Smokies? Gatlinburg will fix that.
By Parke Puterbaugh

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, holds fast to the northern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park like a tick to a hiker’s pant leg. And for those who love wilderness, it’s about as welcome. With 6,276 motel rooms and only 3,100 permanent residents,
Gatlinburg in high summer is a riot of RVs, southern barbecue, and high-volume bluegrass music — the antithesis of the quiet, deeper fastnesses of the Smokies.

And that, of course, can make it a memorable counterpoint to a weekend spent in silent communion with nature. Find yourself longing by Sunday for the cultural sophistication of, say, Jeff Foxworthy? Then Gatlinburg should be the perfect diversion for you. Among its most representative stops:

The Hillbilly Shop, which proudly provides immersion in all things redneck. Sample T-shirts: I DON’T TRUST PRESIDENT CLINTON OR HER HUSBAND and 24 HOURS IN A DAY, 24 BEERS IN A CASE…COINCIDENCE?

Hillbilly Golf, self-proclaimed “world’s most unusual” putt-putt course. How so? “Well, we have one hole with an old outhouse on it. You hit your ball through it,” the owner says. Yet another hole features an ancient but theoretically operational moonshine still.

Chapel in the Valley, a Vegas-style walk-in wedding mill. Its motto: “A Beautiful Beginning for Your Special Occasion.” About the ending, apparently, there are no guarantees.

And finally, Ronnie Milsap’s Keyboard Cafe, the Lee Greenwood Theater, and the Elvis Museum — monuments to country crooners. None can stack up in popularity or originality, though, to Dolly Parton’s nearby Dollywood or, even better, her new dining attraction, Dixie Stampede, a “whip-cracking, wagon-busting good time, complete with the
North/South rivalry.”

Illustration by Susan Saas