Well here's our new favorite place to stay when traveling to Pigeon Forge and especially Dollywood. The Ridge is brand spanking new (it opened Memorial Day Weekend this year) and loaded with reasons to stay here. As far as camp sites go, all the sites were level, paved, and finished with etched concrete to make the pad look like hard wood flooring. Trees are planted for shade but it will be years before shade comes to fruition, however, the sites are staggered so that the camper next to you provides shade to the little grassy area included in your site. The sites are wide and easy to back in to. They are also amply long as we could park our truck in front of our 36 foot camper lengthwise and wide enough to fit a truck next to it in the front of our spot. There is one playground so far (they have plans to add two lakes, one for fishing and one that will have slides and jumpy features for swimming) up near the back of the office building but it also is lacking shade. Our son didn't mind, he rode his hover board up to the playground, played till he got hot, then hovered over to the pool to cool off.
The huge pool here is one of its coolest features. It has a wide zero gravity entrance where they leave sun lounging recliners and umbrellas in the shallow end so you can soak up rays and chat with friends while staying cool in the water. There is also a large hot tub. They show movies at night in the summer you can watch while hanging out in the pool. It closes around 10 p.m.
The Ridge Outdoor Resort is located right off Veterans Blvd. on Middle Creek Road behind a cute little coffee shop (Smoky Mountain Espresso) and frozen yogurt shop (Sweet Frog), so for the most part you can skip Pigeon Forge's main strip (the Pigeon Forge Parkway) and traffic and have the added bonus of being able to walk from your campsite to get coffee and/or sweet treats. It's 3.5 miles from Dollywood so if you're like us you can get up early to head to Dollywood for opening gates then come home for a midday break when the crowds get out of control and head back towards evening. We always get Preferred Parking at Dollywood which makes it easy to come and go as you please, plus you never have to ride a trolly to get from a parking lot to the gates which can add up to 45 minutes to getting to ride rides or see shows.
The Ridge has several really cool tiny homes they've just built to rent to friends and family that don't have campers. The also have 2 huge glamping tents with running water, heat and air, and kitchens. These were really cool looking as the front of the tents opened all the way up and had massive front decks for hanging out. They are planning to build several more tents and tiny homes and plan to have 300 camp sites in all. This place is gonna be massive and self contained with lots of stuff to do. Once all the features they have planned get built I can't imagine a reason to leave once you check-in except for grub and Dollywood.
We stayed in site 24, which was great, but it seemed most of the spots in there were great. I read some apprehensive reviews about the bottom loop down the hill closer to the road but if anything I thought those spots were more private (and they come equipped with really nice gas fire places, the rest of the sites have nice wood burning fireplaces) they are just significantly further away (like I would probably drive to pool area) and pretty severely downhill from the pool and playground so that the walk up would be pretty brutal. But it's definitely not a deal breaker to be at the bottom of the hill here, I'd take those spots any day over the very nicest spot at Jellystone Campground right down the road which is where we USED to always stay when doing a Pigeon Forge trip (Greenbrier Campground in Gatlinburg on the Pigeon River is our favorite spot for more natural trips--fishing, kayaking, hiking, creek walking and swimming, and tubing-- refer to Greenbrier blog post for more info on that awesome place).
The office building/conference center/check-in is enormous, brand new, and NICE. The camp store near check-in is sparse right now with only the very basic necessities but they will be improving that area as time goes on. There are multiple meeting rooms and all kinds of amenities for conferences and family reunions, etc. The lady running the place was as nice as they come and super proud of the new campground as she should be. I truly won't consider booking any where else in Pigeon Forge unless the secret gets out about this place and it becomes impossible to book...which I predict will happen sooner than later. They do allow advanced booking on line. We highly recommend the Ridge Outdoor Resort and can't wait to visit again this fall when Dollywood gets the Great Pumpkin Luminights rolling again. Happy camping!