Top 5 Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains
Nothing beats seeing the gorgeous views in the Smoky Mountains, and did you know you can do it from the comfort of your car? If you’re not up for a hike, go for a scenic drive in the Smokies! There are plenty of mountain roads that lead you to the most breathtaking views. To help you learn more, we’ve put together a list of 5 of our favorite scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Cades Cove Loop Road
The Cades Cove Loop Road is by far the most popular scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. This 11-mile, one-way road takes visitors on a journey through one of the most beautiful places in the park. Along the drive, visitors will have the opportunity to see views of the valley, historic structures, and some wildlife. In fact, it’s one of the most popular places to see black bears! We recommend taking advantage of the pull offs and parking areas to stop, take pictures, and get out to explore the old homesteads. This scenic drive is truly a can’t-miss Smoky Mountain drive.
2. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Another popular scenic drive is Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is open from early April through late November each year. This narrow and winding road is a 5.5-mile loop that provides plenty of views! You can see glimpses of an old-growth forest, streams, grist mills, old cabins, and more. This drive is especially beautiful after a heavy rain because of the Roaring Fork stream you’re driving alongside. Keep an eye on the trees as you drive through — that’s where black bears can often be spotted.
3. Newfound Gap
One of the most scenic highways in the Smokies is Newfound Gap Road. This 33-mile road takes you all the way from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC. It starts at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ends at the Mountain Farm Museum in North Carolina. Along the drive, be sure to stop at some of the many pull-offs to take pictures and enjoy the view. Popular spots along Newfound Gap Road are the Campbell Overlook, Newfound Gap itself, and Clingmans Dome Road. It’s also one of the best drives to do early in the morning so you can catch a Smoky Mountain sunrise!
4. Rich Mountain Road
If you’re looking for a hidden gem, try Rich Mountain Road! If you don’t want to deal with the busyness of Cades Cove, Rich Mountain Road is a great option. It’s an 8-mile, one-way, gravel road that gives you views of Cades Cove and leads back into Townsend. The entrance for the road is near the halfway point around the Cades Cove Loop Road, across from Cades Cove. Missionary Baptist Church. Because the road is so winding and steep, it’s only open from early April through mid November.
5. Little River Road
Little River Road is one of the most peaceful scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. It’s perfect to do during the spring, when you can see gorgeous wildflowers! Beautiful wooded areas and various waterfalls can be seen along the road as well, and, of course, views of the river. This drive actually spans for 18 miles, beginning at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ending at Cades Cove.
These are just a few of our favorite scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains! Would you rather hike to see the gorgeous views? Here are some of our favorite hiking trails in the national park.