You’ll find so many amazing views while you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. If hiking isn’t your thing but you still want to see the beautiful landscape this area is known for, hop on your motorcycle or in your vehicle and take a drive. Check out these scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Cades Cove Loop
The Cades Cove Loop is one of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. It stretches for 11 miles through a valley surrounded by the mountains. You can stop throughout the loop to check out the historical buildings, go on hikes, or even have a picnic in the picnic area. Wildlife is usually found throughout the loop, from deer to bears to raccoons. There are also plenty of historic buildings, like the oldest standing building, some churches, and a working grist mill. This is a great scenic drive for families since there’s a rest stop in the middle of the loop. Everyone will love driving through Cades Cove!
2. Foothills Parkway
For a long time, portions of the Foothills Parkway were closed for construction, but as of 2018, visitors can enjoy a new experience with the opening of the “Missing Link.” You’ll travel along Chilhowee Mountain and Cove Mountain, looking out over the forest and see the other peaks of the Smokies. You’ll be blown away by all the sweeping mountain views visible from the road. No matter what time of the year you drive the road, you’ll find it incredible how far you can see! You might even spot a few animals along your drive, so keep an eye out.
3. Newfound Gap Road
Newfound Gap Road is the lowest pass through the Smoky Mountains that is drive-able. Along this road, you’ll see the largest variety of tree species. Since Newfound Gap Road is 1 mile high, it typically gets more snow than the lowlands surrounding it. It stretches at 31 miles long and takes you into the North Carolina side of the mountains if you start in Gatlinburg. Points of interest along the road include Mingus Mill, Mountain Farm Museum, and Web Overlook. Plus, the turn off for Clingmans Dome is off Newfound Gap Road, which has one of the best scenic views in the Smokies.
4. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Although it is the shortest road on our list, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail will amaze you. This 5.5-mile, one-way loop road gets its name from a mountain stream. You’ll want to try to see this scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains in the spring, summer, and fall because it’s closed during the winter. You’ll drive past streams, old forest growth, and plenty of historic buildings. You can stop and get out to see Ogle farmstead at the beginning of the road. Just past this is the trailhead for Rainbow Falls, the tallest, single-drop waterfall in the Smokies! You’ll love exploring along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!
If you love to drive, taking scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains is definitely something you should do while you’re in town! Be sure to check and see if the roads are open during the fall and winter since weather can be unpredictable. Looking for other things to do while you’re on vacation? Check out these Gatlinburg attractions you don’t want to miss!