Stunning Mountain Towns to Make Home in Eastern Tennessee

Tennessee is a landlocked state in the South, known for country music and delicious food. While Nashville and Memphis soak up much of the attention around the state, many are unaware of the incredible natural beauty you can find here. Tennessee is home to some of the most picturesque scenery anywhere in the United States, with gorgeous mountains, forests, and caverns.

Most of the state’s population is concentrated in bigger cities like Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. That means, outside of the big cities, you can find some of the most incredible untouched natural environments out there.

On the Eastern side of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains cover nearly 520,000 incredible acres of forested mountain. With the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest, these areas are some of America’s best-preserved natural locations that make for stunning destinations to explore or set down roots full-time.

Eastern Tennessee has many different towns with perfect proximity to the gorgeous mountainous natural environments of the state. There’s something for everyone in this region: bustling tourist towns or quiet mountainous escapes, perfect for solitude.

Let’s take a look at some of the stunning mountain towns to make home in Eastern Tennessee.

Pigeon Forge

With a permanent population of just over 6,000, Pigeon Forge is a major tourism force in the area for such a small town. The likely biggest reason for this is that it’s home to Dollywood, a theme park, water park, and museum dedicated to country music icon Dolly Parton, who happened to grow up in a Tennessee mountain home herself. It is a bustling tourist town with a commercial feel, with tons of massive shops and restaurants.

Pigeon Forge is located just outside of the Smoky Mountains area, a 20-minute drive to be precise. There, you’ll have access to all the fun natural activities you’d expect. There’s incredible white water rafting, hiking, and camping, as well as numerous lodges and cabins that offer rentals. There are also resorts and hotels. Pigeon Forge is arguably the tourism capital of this area, bringing in massive numbers of people and serving as a must-visit along the way to Smoky Mountain.


Gatlinburg is a short drive from Pigeon Forge, closer to Smoky Mountain. Gatlinburg serves as the gateway to the National Park. It is another area that is extremely popular with tourists because of the proximity to the park’s entry. It has incredible Smoky Mountain views and a resort-like feel, with trendy restaurants and shops. There are also resorts like Ober Gatlinburg within the town’s border, which is a popular ski and amusement park destination.

Gatlinburg is a great place to live due to how close to the park it is and the stunning views a residence in this town provides. While it is a very touristy place, with an aquarium, resorts, and seasonal population surges, that doesn’t take away from the town’s natural beauty. It is an incredible mountain town offering unparalleled access to the park.

Johnson City

Further North in Tennessee is Johnson City, a bustling city of 70,000 with gorgeous mountain views and incredible outdoor activities. Johnson City has an interesting history, known for its old-time impact in music and its nickname “Little Chicago” due to its involvement in the Prohibition-era bootlegging scene.

Johnson City has Winged Deer Park, a family-oriented park with outdoor excursion opportunities, including boating. For the best trails in the area, head to Buffalo Mountain Park, a gorgeous mountainous park with views overlooking the city. There are also tons of mountain biking trails. Johnson City is less of a tourism hotspot but still has gorgeous Tennessee mountain scenery. It also has affordable real estate options and is a great city to raise a family.

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Mountain City

If you’re looking to go somewhere quiet, where the mountain solitude runs deep, Mountain City is a small town in the far Northeast corner of Tennessee that may be perfect for you. This small town has a permanent population of under 3,000. It is surrounded by woods and mountains, the highest incorporated city in Tennessee at 2,418 feet.

For such a small town, there is tons to do in Mountain City. Doe Mountain Recreation is perfect for riding all-terrain vehicles through mountain trails. There are art centers, antique stores, bed and breakfasts, and numerous restaurants. It is a secluded town, where people looking for a peaceful place to live surrounded by nature will find the perfect home. Real estate options are very affordable and surprisingly abundant.