Known as the Gateway to the Smokies, Gatlinburg — along with nearby Sevierville and Pigeon Forge — offers all-season outdoor adventure, scenic charms, and mountain town allure that keep travelers coming back year after year.
In 2021 alone, Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw more than 14 million visitors. It’s the massive draw of the park and the variety of family-friendly activities in the area that make Gatlinburg a top spot for a vacation rental investment, too.
To help you understand your opportunity in the Gatlinburg vacation rental market, we created a free, downloadable vacation rental market analysis. Inside you’ll find:
The findings in this analysis are based on Evolve’s Gatlinburg market averages in the last year and provide a general baseline for performance potential. They’re designed to help inform smart decisions when buying a Gatlinbug investment property.
Beautiful mountain scenery sets the stage for any Gatlinburg area getaway, and amusement park thrills, interactive museums, and endless outdoor activities offer year-round fun for all ages. As a result, occupancy rates remain relatively high throughout the year — giving investors the opportunity to grab consistent bookings and income.
Things really heat up in the summer, as travel to the area soars with warmer temperatures and nature-lovers coming to explore. The Gatlinburg vacation rental market peaks for a second time in the thick of fall, as visitors arrive for prime leaf peeping. This dual seasonality can equate to higher demand (and therefore higher nightly rates and profit) for a large part of the calendar year.
The value of real estate in the Gatlinburg area has seen a significant increase over the last year, too. Gatlinburg’s median property value — currently sitting at $600,528 — has increased at an even higher rate, reflecting the demand for rental accommodations as tourism kicks back into high gear.
For investors looking for lower upfront costs, our Real Estate Services (RES) team says neighboring Smoky Mountain towns might offer a valuable alternative while remaining close to the Gatlinburg vacation rental market. A Pigeon Forge investment property, for example, lists for an average of $519,818, while average prices in Sevierville come in at an even-more-affordable $379,000.
Because of its massive appeal to tourists and its direct access to the Smokies, investors can turn a serious profit in the Gatlinburg vacation rental market. In order to gauge just how much you might make, consider the following important factors.
Homes of all sizes perform well in Gatlinburg, as it entices a variety of travelers throughout the majority of the year.
Since it’s such a family- and group-oriented destination, Evolve’s top-earner last year was a six-bedroom Gatlinburg investment property. Larger homes in this market (think four- and five-bedroom homes, too) earn high occupancy and the most income in general — just note that they’re the hardest kind of inventory to find.
Meanwhile, one-bedroom properties perform best when it comes to total nights booked throughout the year. Since many solo travelers and couples also pass through the area to enjoy the Smoky Mountains, cozy accommodations provide an efficient choice for guests. Plus, they make up a much larger percentage of available inventory — and offer a less expensive upfront investment for those looking to enter the Gatlinburg vacation rental market.
While you can’t purchase property within Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our RES team says it’s wise to invest as close to its border as possible. This gives your guests an easy commute to the area’s crown jewel, and mountain vistas overlooking the stunning scenery take the average vacation above and beyond.
Still, since there’s only so much inventory with unobstructed mountain views, you’ll find plenty of other locations for a strong investment in the Gatlinburg vacation rental market. If you can’t get close to the mountains, look for a property with easy access to the main Parkway — whether that’s in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville. Making the drive between attractions ultra convenient is a great way to give travelers the best experience possible while they’re in the area.
Travelers yearn for the rustic ambiance of a log cabin when booking a Gatlinburg rental home, so look for homes with cozy, woodsy charm. That said, they also expect thoughtful design and desirable amenities, so it’s important to strike the right balance for your guests.
To do so, add touches like homey decor, comfortable outdoor furniture, and modern essentials like WiFi, air conditioning, and laundry machines. Consider getting a hot tub — one of the most popular amenities for travelers in the area — to wow guests after a long day of hiking or entertaining the kids at Dollywood.
You’ll also want to reserve space for family-friendly perks. Large groups love game rooms, giving them the chance to unwind with pool, darts, or foosball. You can even add classic arcade games, board games, and an entertainment system with kid-friendly movies to the mix.
Finally, Gatlinburg is a pet-friendly destination for many travelers, so consider setting your property up for four-legged friends, too. Fence in the yard for an easy game of fetch, and include amenities like a dog bed and food bowls so furry companions can always be part of the fun.
With tourism firmly planted as the area’s biggest industry, Gatlinburg is a hotspot for year-round travel with major income opportunities for vacation rental investors.
To get a closer look at this booming market, download our free Gatlinburg Vacation Rental Market Analysis today. It’s filled with tons of helpful insights, including:
More travelers visit the Great Smoky Mountains than any other national park in the country, but investing in this “smokin’ hot” market doesn’t have to be intimidating. Use our report to equip yourself with the tools and knowledge needed for vacation rental success.