Is Wears Valley Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 27, 2024
Wears Valley, United States
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Wears Valley, Tennessee, exudes a serene charm that captivates visitors seeking a retreat in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Originally inhabited by Cherokee tribes, the valley later became home to settlers drawn by its fertile land and abundant natural resources.

Today, remnants of its pioneer past can still be found in the form of historic homesteads and rustic farmsteads scattered throughout the valley.

It was named after Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Wear, who settled in the area in the late 18th century.

Wears Valley boasts a rich history steeped in the Appalachian tradition.

In fact, part of the national park preserves “mountain life” as it was before the land was protected for future generations.

Wears Valley’s appeal lies in its unspoiled beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

Surrounded by rolling hills and verdant forests, it offers an idyllic setting for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

Hiking trails wind through the surrounding mountains, offering breathtaking views of the Smokies and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Visitors also flock to Wears Valley for its charming shops and local artisans, who showcase their crafts in quaint roadside stores and galleries.

From handmade pottery to locally sourced honey, there’s something for everyone to discover in this hidden gem of the Smokies.

Whether it’s soaking in the natural splendor or immersing oneself in Appalachian culture, Wears Valley offers a peaceful getaway for those seeking solace in the mountains.

It’s still just 30 minutes from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge but closest to Townsend – the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.

Warnings & Dangers in Wears Valley

Overall Risk


There's a low risk in Wears Valley, but it's definitely for people looking for a more laid-back outdoor experience than you can get in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Pigeon Forge Mass Transit has a route to Wears Valley, but it likely won't be robust enough for the average tourist to rely on it. Taxis and rideshares are available, but a rental car will really help you have a better experience exploring the park.

Pickpockets Risk


Only about one or two purse snatchings or pickpockets happen each year, looking back over five years of crime data. The risk is low, and the crowds are smaller here, but don't let your guard down.

Natural Disasters Risk


Floods, wildfires, tornadoes, severe storms, and winter storms are the biggest risks, and it's important to pay close attention to the forecast during your visit.

Mugging Risk


Much like thefts, only one or two highway robberies happen here each year, so the risk is low. At the same time, minding your own businesses and avoiding conflict is the best way to keep the risk even lower.

Terrorism Risk


The risk here is low in this more remote stretch of the foothills. The bigger concerns would be natural risks and wildlife.

Scams Risk


Scams here are mostly limited to run-of-the-mill scams, like IRS fraudsters or people posing as police officers and demanding money. Learn the common scam signs of rental homes or cabins, as those can be plentiful across this region. With a little education, you'll be able to spot them a mile away.

Women Travelers Risk


This is another low risk with plenty of outdoor adventures to explore without the congestion of Gatlinburg.

Tap Water Risk


Tap water is safe to drink and use for bathing, as is the water in surrounding communities. All standards of the Safe Water Drinking Act are met or exceeded each year.

Safest Places to Visit in Wears Valley

While Wears Valley doesn’t have an official tourism site, the About Wears Valley option and other sites like Wandering Smoky Mountains can provide specific information about the smaller communities.

I will give you a heads-up that not all the websites for Wears Valley are very fancy or sometimes even secure.

Be sure to only use sites with “https” at the start, not “HTTP.”

The northern end of the Foothills Parkway is in Wears Valley, starting a 33-mile journey to Chilhowee, which then connects to the infamous Tail of the Dragon roadway.

At the other end of Wears Valley, Pigeon Forge includes three miles of Wears Valley Road before the pavement leaves the city limits and into the unincorporated area.

Wears Valley Zipline Adventures is one of many zipline options in the region, but the closest to Wears Valley.

You’ll get some of the longest and highest options while soaking in views of the Great Smoky Mountains peaks like Mount LeConte.

The views are unspoiled nature and the wait times aren’t as long as you’ll get in Pigeon Forge.

You also get two of the less-congested park entrances here, with Line Springs Road turning into Wears Cove Gap Road.

Then, there’s the Townsend entrance, where you can visit the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center before heading into the park.

The park includes many waterfalls in this section, including White Oak Flat Falls, Meigs Falls, The Sinks, and the Townsend Wye, which is also a popular swimming hole.

Cades Cove is close to Wears Valley, and it’s impressive to see the remains of a former pioneer town spread out in a cove with an 11-mile road surrounding it.

This is one of the best places to spot wildlife, too.

One of the reasons there are several valleys here is due to the more erosive bedrock compared to the higher spots in the Smokies.

This means there are miles and miles of caves underneath it, but you can’t go into a cave on federal land.

However, you can hike to White Oak Sinks to see the entrance to a few “secret” caves.

For the ultimate cave experience near Wears Valley, head outside the park to Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend.

You can walk through the intricate formations to a large underground waterfall.

Right where Wears Valley Road ends in Townsend, you’ll find a grouping of several rafting companies that can help you spend anywhere from an hour to a day riding the river.

Wears Valley Jeep Rentals offers a great way to explore the more rugged roads nestled within the national park.

While many roads are suitable for regular vehicles, there are several off-the-beaten-path options that truly take you into the backwoods of the Smokies.

Tennessee Mountain View Winery offers a place to sip special selections while soaking in the views of the valley and beyond.

For those hot summer days, you might want to try a slush wine.

Come hungry and splurge on a charcuterie board, too.

Places to Avoid in Wears Valley

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge give a false sense of what this region is really like when you take away tourism.

Wears Valley embraces the old way of doing things with a few unique places to see.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly it goes from attractions everywhere to riding a back country road.

I bring that up because Wears Valley is the place to get away from the noise and traffic of the Parkway.

If you want to be at the center of it all, this isn’t the place for you to stay.

If you’re not comfortable with winding mountain roads to your cabin or into the park, you’ll be more comfortable in Gatlinburg.

You should also know that it doesn’t take much winter weather to cause treacherous conditions on the roads or even road closures.

Flooding is also possible in this area with so many rivers and streams running through – don’t even try to drive across a flooded roadway.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Wears Valley

  1. Wears Valley is unincorporated, which means the law enforcement comes from Sevier (“severe”) County Sheriff’s Office. Follow them on Facebook @SevierCountySheriffsOffice. You can also call (865) 453-4668 with specific safety questions.
  2. Sevier County and all the local communities use the CodeRED notification system for emergency alerts. This will cover major accidents, severe weather, winter weather, and public safety threats. You can sign up for free and easily unsubscribe when you leave.
  3. Before renting a cabin in this area, ask what the road is like to get there. Some homes are only reached by driving hairpin turns at steep angles. Not everyone is comfortable with that kind of experience. Plenty of others have a flatter and easier approach.
  4. Bears roam this area, and it’s not uncommon to see them. You can carry bear spray with you into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Please stay back 100 yards from the bears. If you come across one suddenly, back away slowly and speak in a firm but not panicked voice to let the bear know you’re not a threat.
  5. The scenic roads in this region attract motorcycles and hot rod cars. While most people will respect the speed limit and the dangerous nature of the roads, some people like to speed or take corners quickly. Keep your eyes peeled when driving, and don’t get wrapped up too much in the scenery.
  6. If you plan to go tubing on the river, please wear a safety vest. The water is usually calm enough that it’s not an issue, but sudden currents can arise, and hidden rocks could pose a safety threat. You will do this activity at your own risk.
  7. The Townsend Wye inside the park, as noted above, is a popular swimming hole. However, the park strongly recommends that you don’t swim here. People have drowned in this busy area, even with large crowds nearby. It’s not illegal to swim in the water, but it does pose a safety risk.
  8. That same advice goes for any waterfall in the park. These beautiful falls are alluring, but the slippery rocks and unknown currents can make a fun trip turn into an emergency situation quickly. With all the lush landscape, moss will also cover the rocks, making each step like walking on ice.
  9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park follows the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, which means you can’t take things like wildflowers or even fallen leaves. You must stay on the trail when hiking and carry out any trash that you create while you’re there. Plus, bring bear-proof food containers if you’re packing snacks.
  10. You can’t trust your GPS in the national park. Taking a paper map that’s waterproof is ideal so that you can navigate the more remote regions. You can also download the National Park Service app to get offline maps that will work when you’re out of cell range.

So... How Safe Is Wears Valley Really?

With Wears Valley being unincorporated, there’s not a good way to narrow down the crime data here.

Even to assume the rates of Sevier County as a whole apply here is wrong, since it’s a massive area and Wears Valley has just 7% of the county’s population.

All that said, even the county has a low crime rate, with a violent crime rate 72% lower than the state average and 56% lower than the national average.

Even more, over the past five years, just 1% of violent crimes were against strangers.

Even county theft rates are 77% lower than the national average, with most thefts involving things from buildings or stuff found in a yard or private property.

So, even though I can’t specifically point to all the reasons Wears Valley is really safe, enough supporting documentation shows that even with the little crime nearby, very few tourists are impacted.

In fact, all the communities around Great Smoky Mountains National Park are safe for tourists.

If they weren’t, then 11 million people and growing wouldn’t visit each year for decades on end.

How Does Wears Valley Compare?

CitySafety Index
Wears Valley78
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
St. Louis58
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43

Useful Information



International visitors need to first check if they are eligible for a visa waiver, as that will make the process much easier. That information is found on the U.S. State Department website. Otherwise, a visa for the purpose of your trip needs to be applied for, which could include a work visa, school visa, tourism visa, etc.



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 $40 in case you come across cash-only locations.



The beauty of this region is that it gets four beautiful seasons. Wears Valley sits at 1,500 feet above sea level, but mountains quickly rise to more than 4,000 feet nearby and up to 6,643 feet at Clingmans Dome. That means you have to pack for the weather in the valley and at the highest elevations. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring bug spray. Ensure your shoes have been broken in before you wear them here, or you'll face painful blisters. Plan to sweat a lot from late spring through early fall, and bring fabrics that will be comfortable at that level of humidity.



McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville is just 45 minutes from Wears Valley, making it the closest and largest option. Asheville (North Carolina) has an airport two hours away.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance offers the best coverage for all potential delays, cancelations, or risks. Depending on the extent of your outdoor plans, you might want to consider adventure insurance.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Wears Valley Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 3° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 9° C
Apr 13° C
May 18° C
Jun 21° C
Jul 23° C
Aug 23° C
Sep 20° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 5° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Tennessee - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bell Buckle79
Johnson City68
Pigeon Forge78
Wears Valley78

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