Top 5 Scenic Drives in the Smoky MountainsPublished May 5, 2020
Nothing clears the heart and the mind like a leisurely drive through scenic terrain. There’s a lot of great hiking in the Smoky Mountains, but for those who fancy an afternoon drive, here are some of the most scenic roadways in the area. Start from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and you’ll find yourself just a moment’s ride away from these beautiful woodland paths.
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is a popular valley surrounded by mountains and filled to the brim with foliage and wildlife. There’s a motorist-friendly road looping around the cove. The whole drive around Cades Cove is only about 11 miles, but with all the cool critters and beautiful sights, expect to make plenty of stops along the way!
2. Foothills Parkway
After decades of waiting, the Foothills Parkway was finally completed in 2018. This gorgeous 33-mile path provides one of the most scenic drives not just in the Smokies but in the whole country. What’s so special about the Foothills Parkway? Well aside from just breathtaking terrain, this is your only chance to get a close-up view of the top of an Eastern U.S. mountain range. You truly get to catch a glimpse of the top of the world!
3. Newfound Gap
While the Foothills Parkway puts you up close to sights of pointed mountaintops, Newfound Gap lets you ride the lowest traversable Smoky Mountain pass. Despite this, you’ll still reach altitudes of more than a mile high, so expect snow and chilly air when you reach the tip-top. Driving through Newfound Gap is like watching a slow transformation of the environment around you. So many different and unique ecosystems exist here. Watch pine-oak and hardwood forests give way to evergreen woodlands and snowy mountainscapes.
4. Clingmans Dome
Welcome to the highest point in all of Tennessee. Look down on The Volunteer State from the beautiful road on Clingman’s Dome. This seven-mile drive has several scenic turnouts that make for one-of-a-kind photo opportunities, so be sure to bring your camera!
5. Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork is named for the stream that flows through this path. But don’t let the word “stream” fool you, Roaring Fork is anything but little. It’s one of the fastest and largest flowing mountain streams in the Smoky Mountains. There’s a 5.5-mile loop that will take you through an ever-changing forest landscape. Roll down the window and lose yourself in the smells of the trees and the sounds of the roaring waterways.
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