If you’re looking for a way to experience the beauty of the Smokies without the work of hiking, scenic drives are the way to go. Luckily, there are plenty of roads to choose from that you are sure to enjoy! There are even inexpensive booklets available at national park visitor centers that can serve as your own personal guide. To help you plan for your trip, here are 5 can’t-miss scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains.
1. Cades Cove Loop
Cades Cove is one of the most popular auto-touring destinations in the national park! This 11-mile, one-way loop also has pullouts on the side of the road where you can stop to admire the views and take pictures! Large numbers of white-tailed deer can be seen here. You may also spot black bears, turkeys or groundhogs along the way.
2. Rich Mountain Road
If you’d like to avoid the crowds during your drive, try the Rich Mountain Road! This 8-mile, one-way gravel road offers wonderful wooded views and passes by Cades Cove. Since it’s less congested, you can usually take it a little slower here and stop to take pictures as you please. You might even spot some native wildlife like white-tailed deer or black bears!
3. Newfound Gap Road
The Newfound Gap is one of the longest and best scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains! It travels 29.2 miles one-way, climbing 3,000 feet up into the highlands. As you ascend into the mountains, you’ll pass by cove and northern hardwood, pine-oak, and evergreen spruce-fir forests. Because of the elevation change, you may also notice changes in temperature.
4. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Slow down and enjoy the forest and some Smoky Mountain history on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. This 5.5-mile loop travels one-way and offers glimpses of mountain streams, old-growth forest, and other historic buildings. During your drive on this trail, you’ll also be right next to the Roaring Fork stream which is absolutely gorgeous after a hard rain!
5. Little River Road
The Little River Road is open year-round and has a variety of places where you can pull off to the side of the road and go hiking or enjoy the views! One of those pull-offs allows you to see Meigs Falls, a waterfall tucked away along the side of the road. You can also pull into one of the parking areas to view the sinks, a short yet powerful waterfall that includes the entire flow of the Little River!
Road Closure Information
Some of these roads may be closed during the winter, so be sure to check out the National Park System’s Seasonal Road Closures. This way, you can stay up to date and plan for the scenic drives that are best for your getaway!
Don’t miss these scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Start planning your trip today and browse our selection of hotel rooms in Gatlinburg. We look forward to seeing you at The Edgewater Hotel!