10 Sustainable Travel Tips for the Environmentally Friendly


Going green has many different components, and with millions of visitors exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, it may feel like your little contributions don’t matter. Oh, but they do. Even if a small percentage of visitors to the Pigeon Forge area decided to simply take advantage of the cheap Fun Time Trolley, pack out what they packed in on hikes, and reuse their drinking cups, literally hundreds of thousands of differences would be made.

Less auto emissions would be on the road, less garbage would end up in the little claws and mouths of wildlife, and less plastic would go into landfills. With these easy-to-make changes and a couple of bigger contributions to consider, you can really show your appreciation and respect for this incredibly beautiful area that has leant you some of your favorite cabin vacation memories with those you love.

Reusable Cups
Honestly, I am obsessed with finding a good reusable cup. It is one of my favorite souvenirs. The Island has a Tervis Cup store with hundreds of awesome reusable cups sporting your favorite teams, Smoky Mountain emblems, and more. This tip is obvious, though. The less paper and plastic cups you use, the better. They come in super handy when traveling, too, because most gas stations don’t mind if you fill them with water and ice, or they give you discounts on fountain sodas.

Reusable Bags
You have seen them everywhere for grocery shopping, but they are great for all your souvenir shopping at The Island, The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, and the Tanger Outlets. Opt out of the plastic bag and use your own backpack or light reusable shopping bag!

Take the Trolley!
The Pigeon Forge Fun Time Trolley is the best way to get around the Parkway. You don’t have to dodge other drivers, navigate the stoplights and roads, fight for a parking spot, or constantly fill up your gas tank during your trip. Head to the Fun Time Trolley office behind The Old Mill District and pick up a day pass for just $2 which gets you unlimited rides! Plus, you are doing your little part of eliminating at least one vehicle’s emissions on the road.

Bring a Trash Bag
I keep one of these in my car and plastic bag in my purse. While you may be doing your part to keep the environment clean, not everyone does. Take the quick moment to move trash off the ground and into the closest trash receptacle. Pack all your trash from those wrapped snacks out of the park in your handy trash bag. You can even take it a step further during your trip and keep all your aluminum soda and beer cans in a separate bag to drop off at a local Pigeon Forge recycling bin or facility.

Turn Off the Water
Sure, it’s not your water bill since you have already paid your rental fee, but this is still about the environment. Your used water, whether you touched it or not before it has gone down the drain, still has to go through a water filtration facility which is more energy. Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or scrub your face. Make your showers quick and to the point.

Enjoy Natural Lighting
We spend our days in offices, schools, and workplaces filled with manufactured lighting. You are in the Smokies; get out and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air! Many of our classic cabins boast big windows throughout the home, letting in lovely natural lighting and looking out to beautiful mountain views. Keep the lights off and enjoy the soft sunlight through the pines.

Rent a Hybrid
While many cars are great on gas, you can’t beat a hybrid or an electric car. Whether you are flying in or want to stave off putting hundreds of miles on your own wheels, go for the green vehicles. What you spend on the price of renting you will definitely save in gas money, and you are doing the fresh mountain air a favor while it does you some as well.

Support Local Charities
This doesn’t always look like joining the morning trash pickups or forking out donations (not saying you shouldn’t, though). There has been a real movement for an appreciation of local communities and environmental groups that makes it even easier. If you visit the awesome indoor waterpark at Wilderness at the Smokies, you are supporting many community partners and local non-profit organizations!

When you go to Dollywood, know that you are supporting the Dollywood Foundation, an organization that has been giving families $1,000 a month when they lose their homes and need to get back on their feet. When you choose Foxfire Mountain for a day of outdoor adventures, you are supporting an attraction that sponsors The Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, Bridges to Prosperity, and Americans Helping Americans. Remember, going green affects the communities of people too!

Participate in Fun “Clean” Events
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to some of the biggest and most fun events all about the environment! From the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage to Wilderness Wildlife Week, you can find green educational events that give you first-hand experience with wildlife conservation, forest protection, and sustainable living. There are smaller, seasonal events that happen Wears Valley and Sevierville, too; just keep an eye on our blog!

Brag on Yourself a Little
Don’t go overboard on your “go green” initiative but do drop the hints and sprinkle some ideas into conversations with others about your trip. Don’t brag about how you turned off the lights or didn’t run the sink. Adding some boasts about how awesome your hybrid rental was on your trip or how much fun the whole family had at an event that supported the local community or charities is a great way to spark the idea of going green to others.

All these things are achievable ways to show your appreciation and respect for the beauty of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the local communities that thrive on the tourism. There are a whole lot of footprints, let’s do our best to tread a little lighter and a little greener. Now that you have done your part, sit back and enjoy the “fresher” mountain air on the deck of your Pigeon Forge TN Cabin…Go green in the Smokies!