Is Pigeon Forge Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 25, 2024
Pigeon Forge, United States
Safety Index:
78
* Based on Research & Crime Data

A globally renewed city like Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, needs no introduction, but I’ll give it a try.

As one of the cities leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this is a tourism corridor packed with resorts, attractions, shows, and restaurants.

Pigeon Forge is famed for being the home of Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, a sprawling theme park offering rides, live entertainment, and a glimpse into the culture of Appalachia.

Here, pancake breakfasts are a way of life, and you always have room for fresh-churned ice cream after dinner.

Attractions range from creative museums to adrenaline-pumping coasters.

The town boasts a vibrant arts and crafts community, where visitors can browse unique handmade goods.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a stone’s throw away, offering hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and the opportunity to reconnect with nature.

With its perfect blend of history, entertainment, and natural beauty, Pigeon Forge is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable getaway in the heart of the Smokies.

Warnings & Dangers in Pigeon Forge

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Pigeon Forge, with many things to do day and night. Given the large crowds, it's important to talk through some safety guidance, which we will do as we go.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Download the Pigeon Forge Transit app to see the routes and if that service will work for your needs. Keep in mind that a staffing shortage across America in tourist communities means the trolley schedule can change or be canceled at any time. Taxis and rideshares are available, but a rental car is really the best way to see the full area.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Despite high theft rates, just three pickpockets or purse snatchings have been reported in the past five years. The onus is still on you to take extra steps to protect your belongings. Even for the sake of your lower back, carry only what you need and leave valuables at home.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

This is a medium risk because severe weather, wildfires, flooding, extreme heat, tornadoes, and winter storms can ruin a perfectly good vacation if you aren't paying attention. If you look up the first of 2016, you can see how devastating these issues can be.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Over the past decade, less than one robbery a month was reported (on average). In the past three years, just three of those were muggings. The risk is statistically low, but don't let your guard down.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

The risk at a popular location like this is always going to be higher, but there is not an impending sense of doom. Plus, security is tight across the Smokies, and you can help by reporting anything suspicious that you see.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM

I see a lot of posts from the police about generic scam advisories mixed with a handful of garden variety scams. I would assume a medium risk in this, so you educate yourself on issues like gift card scams and home rental scams.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women don't have a higher risk than anyone else. As a woman, I've visited several times with my girlfriends and once with my boyfriend; each time, I felt comfortable running in the morning and walking around at night. It's family-friendly and still a good choice for solo travelers.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2023 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Enjoy the low-risk here, and be sure to bring water with you as you walk around - it's very humid!

Safest Places to Visit in Pigeon Forge

You will find dozens of websites claiming to be the “best” for Pigeon Forge tourist attractions.

The official site is MyPigeonForge.com.

You can download a free visitor’s guide and a town map online without having to give personal information.

The options in Pigeon Forge are almost overwhelming, especially if you’re also looking at Gatlinburg and Sevierville.

Many of the types of things to do are redundant.

For example, the Smokies have numerous mountain coasters, ziplines, mini golf, arcades, and waterparks.

Another thing to look for in the attractions is connected entities.

Let me give you an example.

The Ripley’s brand has about a dozen attractions in the region.

You can get a better deal by purchasing combo tickets for different options than if you purchased them one at a time.

However, single-ticket attractions are also available.

Perhaps the most notable attraction is Dollywood, an amusement park built around the life of Dolly Parton and her Appalachian childhood.

I’ve been to Dollywood several times in the past decades, and it’s so much fun for everyone.

The park has big rollercoasters, more chill rides, famous food booths (cinnamon bread, I miss you!), a train, shows, crafts, and shopping.

Summer visitors can cool off at Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park.

Several resorts are under the Dollywood brand, which could be ticket discounts or free rides to the park.

Pigeon Forge is also where most theaters are located in the Smokies.

You can choose from dinner shows with pirates, the Hatfield and McCoy’s, or the Dolly Parton Stampede.

Other shows wrap comedy, music, and stunts into one performance.

I recommend purchasing tickets in advance since they all frequently sell out.

The Island at Pigeon Forge is a great place to explore due to the number of things to do in one place.

There’s a giant Ferris Wheel, the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, which takes you 200 feet above the city.

Restaurants, shops, and arcades mixed with creative attractions like Soar America bring something new at every turn.

The Titanic Museum Attraction is also located in Pigeon Forge, where you are given the identity of someone on the ill-fated ship while you explore artifacts and interactive exhibits.

In the end, you find out if you survived the disaster.

Kids will absolutely love the WonderWorks Pigeon Forge.

You shouldn’t miss it as the building is designed to look upside down.

This is a museum mixed with an arcade mixed with the imagination of a million scientists.

It’s about as creative and mind-boggling as anything in the city.

This is not a comprehensive list, as there are more than 80 attractions before you even get to the hundreds of restaurants.

Those are just the main attractions.

Places to Avoid in Pigeon Forge

While you don’t have to worry about dangerous neighborhoods here, the rest comes down to what type of experience you want to have while visiting.

To fully explore Pigeon Forge, you’ll need to deal with traffic and crowds – there’s just no way around that.

October is the busiest month in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the fall foliage, backed by the summer months bringing in large crowds.

Pigeon Forge is stacked with hotels, motels, resorts, and campsites.

Off the Parkway, cabins of all sizes are tucked into the hillsides.

That’s where your decision comes in – do you want to stay on the Parkway so you’re surrounded by the lively atmosphere and can walk to many places?

Or would you prefer to deal with the traffic and crowds during the day but have a quiet retreat at night and in the morning?

Also, the cabin options are amazing in Pigeon Forge, but always ask what the approach road is to the driveway.

Some of these roads are narrow and winding, requiring a steep grade to access.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Pigeon Forge

  1. Pigeon Forge has its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @PigeonForgePolice or call (865) 453-9063 to ask specific safety questions. The police department also has a free app if you want to download that from the app store.
  2. All the local communities and counties use the CodeRED system to send emergency notifications. This is how you can get alerts about severe weather, road closures, or public safety threats.
  3. Despite all the places selling alcohol, wine, or moonshine, you cannot drink alcohol in public places in Pigeon Forge. Some events might have exceptions to that law but always ask before assuming. Even if you’re not drinking in public, you can risk a public intoxication charge if you’re past your limit and acting erratically.
  4. It’s a tradition in the Smokies for locals and return visitors to honk in the tunnels, especially the one between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Since this might startle a first-time visitor, it’s worth pointing out.
  5. Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free, but you will need a parking tag to stop anywhere in the park for more than 15 minutes. You can buy those at various locations or online, with more information on the park’s website.
  6. Bears roam this area. In late summer, they forage for food before winter, and in spring, momma bears walk around with new cubs. As tempting as it is to approach them, please stay back 100 yards at all times. Bear spray is allowed in the park, only to be used as a last resort.
  7. Most of the parking lots in Pigeon Forge are free to use. However, they do fill up quickly, so find a place to park and stick to that area as long as possible. You will do a lot of walking while you’re here, and sometimes, finding a good spot requires even more walking. If you park at Patriok Park, you can use the trolley to explore more areas.
  8. People in this part of America are very talkative and welcoming, but if you’re from a more conservative area, it might seem a little intrusive. Only share first names and the general city that you’re from to avoid giving away too much personal information.
  9. Use TN 511 to spot construction projects, real-time traffic, and live cameras as you travel throughout the state. Winter visitors should always check to see if Newfound Gap Road is open, as it can be closed by snowstorms when it’s just raining in the foothills.
  10. It is common etiquette in the South for men to remove hats when walking inside. That’s especially true when it comes to wearing a hat at a dining table.

So... How Safe Is Pigeon Forge Really?

At some point in your research about visiting Pigeon Forge, you’re going to come across really concerning information about high crime rates and an onslaught of thefts.

We’re here to set the record straight.

It is true that violent crime is 123% higher than the national average and 42% higher than the state average.

Tennessee as a whole has a crime 68% higher than the national numbers.

But before you let that mean anything to you, consider this – Pigeon Forge is a city of 6,300 residents.

Crime rates are determined by population and the number of crimes, then calculated to be “per 100,000 people.”

What it doesn’t take into account are the 11+ million people who visit.

Another point of clarification is that small populations can suffer from skewed results when blown up to 100,000 people.

The bottom line is that Pigeon Forge sees about one violent crime a week, and two-thirds of those are assaults.

Among all violent crimes, 70% are among people who know each other.

Thefts seem to jump off the page, too, with a rate 121% higher than the national average.

That’s down 60% from a decade ago.

Over the past five years, 36% of thefts were car break-ins or stolen accessories.

About 43% are thefts from buildings or “other” larcenies, which aren’t going to impact the experience as a visitor.

The bottom line here is that ONE theft happens about every other day in a city that sees millions of people visiting in a week.

The category with the largest number of arrests was public intoxication.

In addition, about three drivers a week were arrested for driving under the influence.

Pigeon Forge is one of the most visited cities in America, leading to the most visited national park.

This is a safe place to visit, but it’s not impermeable.

Common sense and situational awareness go a long way.

How Does Pigeon Forge Compare?

CitySafety Index
Pigeon Forge78
Houston59
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International visitors need to first check if they are eligible for a visa waiver, as that will make the process much easier. That information can be found on the U.S. State Department website. Otherwise, you'll need a visa. You also want to confirm your passport is valid for six months from the last day of your trip or renew it beforehand.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here and this isn't a place you want to carry a lot of cash. Use credit cards for as much as possible, but I do recommend carrying about $20-$40 in case you come across cash-only locations.

Weather

Weather

Pigeon Forge and the Smokies get four robust seasons. However, if you're visiting the park, you'll need to plan for cooler weather at the higher elevations. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring bug spray. Plan to sweat a lot from late spring through early fall, and bring fabrics that will be comfortable at that level of humidity. In winter, bring a coat and hiking boots, but you'll likely only see snow above 5,000 feet.

Airports

Airports

McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville is just 55 minutes from Pigeon Forge, making it the closest and largest option. Asheville (North Carolina) has an airport two hours away.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a great stress reliever, especially when visiting a rugged area prone to weather dangers. You also want rental car insurance with a roadside assistance plan and uninsured motorist coverage.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Pigeon Forge Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 4° C
Feb 6° C
Mar 10° C
Apr 14° C
May 19° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 15° C
Nov 10° C
Dec 6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
101217222629303027221712
Low
°C
-3-126111518171472-1
High
°F
505463727984868681726354
Low
°F
273036435259646357453630

Tennessee - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bell Buckle79
Chattanooga69
Clarksville72
Cordova62
Dyersburg62
Franklin75
Gatlinburg82
Germantown70
Hendersonville79
Johnson City68
Jonesborough78
Kingsport52
Knoxville57
Lawrenceburg77
Memphis54
Murfreesboro78
Nashville58
Pigeon Forge78
Pulaski79
Rogersville76
Sevierville73
Wears Valley78

Where to Next?

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