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Have you been wanting to go on a scenic drive when you visit the Smoky Mountains? There are plenty of drives to choose from. One of the popular ones is Newfound Gap Road, which is the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll find a ton of places to stop and explore along this drive. Check out these top 5 reasons why you should drive Newfound Gap Road:
1. See the Tallest Point in the Smokies
One of the main reasons people love driving on Newfound Gap Road is because Clingmans Dome is along this drive. This is the tallest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,643 feet. To get to the top, you just hike a short 0.5 mile trek up a paved path and to the top of the observation tower. On a clear day, you can see up to 100 miles away. From the top of Clingmans Dome, you will see incredible views of the mountains, plus get a great walk in after driving for a while!
2. Enjoy Beautiful Views
Newfound Gap Road has some incredible views of the Smokies, which is one reason why this drive is so popular. Many people who don’t want to go hiking to see views will go on a drive. Since this road is 30 miles long and it takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete, you’ll get to enjoy looking out at the sweeping landscape as you sit back, relax, and spend time with the people you came on vacation with. There are also plenty of overlooks where you can stop and get out of the car to take in views without windows obscuring your view. A couple of places you can stop are Morton Overlook and Webb Overlook.
3. Have a Picnic
If you want to enjoy a picnic in the Smokies and go on a drive, get the best of both! Chimney Tops picnic area is right off of Newfound Gap. This area has 68 picnic tables and charcoal grills where you can cook meals. Or you can pack a cooler with your favorite toppings for sandwiches and make your food right at the table! Kids can play in the creek nearby while you enjoy breathing in the mountain air. Then after you enjoy a picnic, you can finish driving along the road.
4. See Historic Buildings
On the Cherokee side of Newfound Gap, you can see a historic place called Mingus Mill. It is located near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. This mill is water powered and used for grinding corn for the community back in its heyday. Instead of using a wheel for power, this mill uses a water turbine to create power. You’ll love being able to see historic buildings like this along your drive.
5. Enjoy Visitor Centers
On both ends of the road, there are visitor centers you can check out along your drive. In Tennessee, you can visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This building includes a gift shop, a little museum with information about the national park, and a 20-minute film you can watch. There are even a few nature walks around the building. In North Carolina, you can visit the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. You can look through exhibits they have, and they also have a gift shop.
These are just a few reasons why you should drive Newfound Gap Road. Going on a scenic drive is just one of the fun things you can do in the area. Want even more ideas for what you should do when you stay with us? Look at these Pigeon Forge attractions so you can have an idea of what you want to do on your next trip!