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On the Road with Dolly Parton

Photo: Courtesy of Dollywood/Curtis Hilbun

In honor of Dolly Parton hosting The CMA Awards, we wanted to remember when we interviewed her back in 2013!

By Lynn and Cele Seldon

Whether you spend life on the road for pleasure or work, it’s nice to have the comforts of home as you travel the highways and byways. TRAILBLAZER checks in with folks who spend a fair amount of time on the road to see just what makes their home away from home. This month, we chatted with Dolly Parton. 

Quite simply, Tennessee native Dolly Parton is an American icon. Along with being a highly popular and successful singer, songwriter, entertainer, and actress, she also lends her name and devotion to Pigeon Forge’s famed Dollywood theme park destination ( From hit songs like “I Will Always Love You” and “Here You Come Again” to the big screen with the likes of “9 to 5” (also a hit song) and “Joyful Noise,” Dolly remains a beloved American figure from coast to coast. 

Dolly and her long-time husband, Carl, enjoy the anonymity of traveling by RV whenever possible, so TrailBlazer caught up with her about life on the road while she was back home in Tennessee for the annual opening of Dollywood. 

What’s your favorite thing about staying in your RV versus a hotel room? 

My husband and I have always enjoyed having a little camper. We get out and take our little RV through the country. We have a home out on the west coast, in L.A., and I also have an RV there – the same one, the same type [as the one they keep in Tennessee]. So we ride up and down the coast in California. We’re set on both coasts. When we get out there, we get in that little camper and just go everywhere. If we want to stop on a river bank and take a nap or have a picnic [we do it]. 

What are your three favorite things onboard? 

I just love everything about having an RV. It’s like a tiny miniature house. We both love it. It’s just perfect for the two of us. 

We have to be self-sufficient for obvious reasons. It’s the whole reason we’re out in our RV. I love my microwave – I like to bring popcorn. I like my refrigerator. But I love, love, love having my own little private bathroom. I can’t very well just stop at a service station – being a celebrity and all, somebody would just follow me in! I also love having the little bed in the back. 

Do you listen to music on the road? 

I don’t listen to music. I write music while traveling or camping. What are a few favorite destinations? We love touring Tennessee. We find all these little out-of-the-way places. 

We love Chattanooga. We got married a few miles away in Ringgold, Georgia. Every single year we go down on or around our anniversary in Ringgold and then we spend time in Chattanooga. We love the scenery in Chattanooga. It’s one of our favorite places. We [also] go to Asheville a lot. 

What shouldn’t people miss at Dollywood and Pigeon Forge? 

They shouldn’t miss Dollywood and Pigeon Forge, period. They should make it a point to come to Pigeon Forge. All the great food. All the great music. All the great rides. Gatlinburg’s wonderful and Sevierville’s great. This whole area is wonderful. 

Highways or scenic routes? 

We take backroads as much as we can because that’s one of the reasons we have the RV. We always take the old highways. We hate the interstate! We love the two lanes. Ours is small enough that my husband says he enjoys driving it. He says it’s not much different than driving a truck or SUV. I sit up front with him. 

I’ve always loved my bus – my tour bus is great – but you’ve always got another driver and you can’t just sit up front with them, so I spend most of my time in the bus in the back. I miss all the front view of any traveling. In my little RV, I love sitting up front with my husband.⎯

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