Top 3 Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives You Have to Try

cades cove loop road

The Great Smoky Mountains are home to over 380 miles of road that you can use for sightseeing. Your experience just depends on which scenic drive you choose. From spectacular, panoramic views of the mountains and forests to weathered historic buildings, there is so much to see! There are even booklets at the visitor centers near these roads that can serve as your own personal tour guide. To help you decide which ones to explore first, here are 3 of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives.

1. Newfound Gap Road

newfound gap roadThis Smoky Mountain scenic drive is one of the longest, going 29.2 miles one-way! Newfound Gap Road will take you straight through the mountains from Gatlinburg, TN all the way to Cherokee, NC. It also takes about an hour to get to one destination from the other. One of the biggest highlights for tourists along this drive is the Tennessee and North Carolina state line. You could hop out of the car for the ever-popular “in two states at once” picture. You can also see where President Roosevelt dedicated the national park along the way. There are various pull-outs on the road as well so that you can stop and take pictures with the beautiful scenery.

2. Little River Road

Little River Road connects downtown Gatlinburg to Townsend and is a gorgeous drive at any time of the year! There are stunning views of the river and the wooded areas, and if you visit during the spring, you can even see a variety of wildflowers starting to bloom. However, the biggest selling point along this road would have to be the waterfalls. There are a few different places to pull off to the side so that you can take pictures of them and admire the view. Keep your eyes peeled for Meigs Falls, which is tucked away on the far side of the Little River. The Sinks is another great stop along this scenic drive. This waterfall may be short in stature, but its volume includes the entire flow of Little River! This is also one of the Smoky Mountain scenic drives that’s open year round as the weather allows.

3. Cades Cove Loop Road

Cades Cove RoadThe Cades Cove Loop Road is one of the most-visited attractions in the national park! This 11-mile scenic drive is rich in history with a number of buildings and structures from long ago, visible from the road. Another contributing factor to its popularity is the frequency of wildlife sightings. White-tailed deer are very common in this area, black bears, groundhogs, turkeys, and other native species have also been spotted here. This road is open all year as the weather permits, except on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings from early May until late September. The road is closed to all motor vehicles during this time so that bicyclists and pedestrians can enjoy the cove in peace.

Since some of these roads take you into the national park, be sure to read up on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so you can get the full experience.