We have stayed on both sides of the Smokies.
Asheville KOA on the east side is nice and close to the Biltmore Estate.
One year we stayed in downtown Pigeon Forge and that was a zoo. Last November we stayed at the Townsend KOA which was about 30 minutes from all the 'action', but very peaceful. Right down the road from a great BBQ place and close to Cades Cove section of the park.
If you don't have a tow vehicle, parking will be tight in Gatlinburg.
Tom and Katharine
'07 Winnebago Tour 40TD, 400hp Cummins
RVing for 19 years & 150,000+ miles