A popular way of exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to take a scenic drive. You can stay in the comfort of your car while enjoying the beauty of the mountains. Plus, there are plenty of pull offs and trails right off these roads where you can get out if you want to. Taking a scenic drive is a great way to spend time in the Smoky Mountains! Here are 4 scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you have to go on:
1. Foothills Parkway
One of the scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you should try is the Foothills Parkway. Congress approved the construction of this parkway in 1944. Over the years, portions of the road have been completed, and when it is finished, it will stretch 72 miles. The most recent portion was completed in 2018, providing a new area where visitors can see incredible views of the mountains. Driving on the Foothills Parkway is a great way to explore the Great Smoky Mountains without having to leave you car!
2. Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap Road has a unique history. In 1872, a man named Arnold Henry Guyot measured many Southern Appalachian elevations and discovered that the area known as Newfound Gap was lower in elevation than the known lowest gap in the Great Smoky Mountain range, Indian Gap. Newfound Gap has an elevation of 5,046 feet and runs from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. You’ll have great views of the mountain ranges, and you’ll get to see evergreen firs and pine oaks. A major stopping point along Newfound Gap is Clingmans Dome, an observation tower with the highest elevation in the national park. The hike to the top is paved and fairly short, so you should check it out along your drive!
3. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
If you’re looking for a scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains where you can take it slow and explore the natural side of the Smokies, you should definitely make a trip along Roaring Fork Motor Trail. This is a one-way road that travels 5.5 miles in a loop. You will get to see old forest growth, mountain streams, and old historic buildings. There are quite a few places where you can get out and explore, including the Noah “Bud” Ogle cabin. The trailhead for Rainbow Falls is also along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Grotto Falls trailhead is also off of this road.
4. Cades Cove
One of the most beautiful scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove. The drive is an 11-mile loop along a paved road. You are allowed to pull over on the side and get out at all of the historic sites. You’ll find old cabins, barns, and a working grist mill. You’ll see incredible views of the mountains. The meadows are full of wildflowers in the spring and summer, and you might even spot wild animals such as turkey or deer. Black bears are also seen along the Cades Cove Loop. Cades Cove is currently closed until February 2020.
Unexpected events can happen that can close certain roads in the Smoky Mountains. Keep up with road closures here.
There are a variety of scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you can explore, from frequently traveled to more rustic and quiet. Since you have an idea of what you want to do when you visit, you need to start planning! Browse through our available rooms and book one today!