Hi there!

 

There are stops for waterfalls that you can makes as you are driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

 

I went to Roaring Fork waterfalls in September. What the weather will be like from year to year can vary (which means the colors can vary!), but this is what it was like for me!

 

Things to do on Roaring fork motor nature trail. Best roaring fork waterfalls in Great smoky mountains national park. Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg TN things to do. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Drive from Pigeon Forge. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

 

 

After your waterfall hike, you can continue driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail right alongside a creek at times and stop to visit historic cabins and a historic mill.

You can also stop to spend some time right next to the creek! 

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls and cascades along the river creek on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls and cascades along the river creek on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog



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Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls and cascades along the river creek on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls and cascades along the river creek on the scenic drive near Gatlinburg TN in smoky mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

Even though this is a popular drive in the Smoky Mountains and you are very likely to encounter traffic (aka slow cars in front of you – it’s a one way road!), there are many pullover spots and it’s very possible to find a quiet spot along the way without feeling like it’s overcrowded!

Gatlinburg TN is a gateway town to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is located right near the main tourist area of Gatlinburg.

If you were to drive straight through in a loop with no traffic and no stops, from Gatlinburg to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to Gatlinburg, the drive might take around 1 hour.

But it will almost certainly take longer than that with the slow going traffic along with the stops you make! Even longer if you decide to do one of the waterfall hikes.

 

 

 

 

Bears in the Roaring Fork area

It was also on the drive back from a waterfall hike in this area of the Smoky Mountains that I saw a bear! Watch the video. I actually saw 2 bears here. It seems that there was a bear waiting at the top of the tree for the other bear. (I didn’t get a video of that part.)

 

 

 

Now…

4 waterfalls to see on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

aka waterfalls near Gatlinburg

As most of these waterfalls require a hike to get to, it may not be reasonable to see all of these waterfalls in one day so take your pick! Although if you are very ambitious and start your day early, it could be possible with a bit of planning!

 

1. Rainbow Falls

Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg: Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls - Rainbow Falls. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog
One of the most popular waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg. This is just before the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It’s around a 15 minute drive from Gatlinburg to the trailhead.

 

 

2. Baskins Creek Falls

Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg: Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls - Baskins Creek Falls. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog
This is a relatively less popular waterfall hike. It’s around a 15 minute drive from Gatlinburg to the trailhead. See more about these Roaring Fork waterfalls.

 

 

3. Grotto Falls

Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg: Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls - Grotto Falls. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog



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This is another popular waterfall hike near Gatlinburg. It’s around a 20 minute drive from Gatlinburg to the trailhead.

 

 

4. Place of a Thousand Drips

Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg: Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls - Places of a thousand drips. Roadside waterfalls near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog
These are waterfalls you can see without getting out of your car! You can see these roadside waterfalls from your car as you are driving past them. 

 

 

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Now…

What you’ll see as you drive to the Roaring Fork waterfalls

 

List of places to visit on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Noah “Bud” Ogle cabin
  • Rainbow Falls trailhead (hike to waterfalls)
  • Entering one-way road of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Baskins Creek Falls trailhead (hike to waterfalls)
  • Grotto Falls trailhead (hike to waterfalls)
  • Alex Cole cabin
  • Ephraim Bales cabin
  • Alfred Reagan Tub Mill
  • Alf Reagan House
  • The Place of a Thousand Drips (roadside waterfalls)

 

 

Start your drive to the Roaring Fork area of the Smoky Mountains!

You’ll pass through Gatlinburg to get there. And then you’ll enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park when driving on Cherokee Orchard Road.

 

Drive to Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls on Cherokee Orchard Road. Smokies travel blog

Drive to Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls on Cherokee Orchard Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Noah “Bud” Ogle farm and cabin

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See Noah "Bud" Ogle farm and cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See Noah "Bud" Ogle farm and cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog



 


 

 

Rainbow Falls

Best Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Rainbow Falls Trail. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog

 

Official info about the trail to Rainbow Falls:

  • 5.4 miles round trip hike
  • Allow 3-5 hours

 

These are one of the most popular waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg. This trail will have you hiking right alongside a creek at times, and you’ll get some views of mountains too.

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - start of the Rainbow Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

 
Read the reviews for Rainbow Falls.

 

The Rainbow Falls trailhead is around a 15 minute drive from Gatlinburg.

It is located just before the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

For google maps, your destination can be Rainbow Falls Trail.

Because of the popularity of these waterfalls, you might end up parking along the side of the road a bit further away from the trailhead, but hopefully no more than a quarter mile away!

There are toilets near the start of the Rainbow Falls Trail.

 

 

Entry to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Shortly after you pass the Rainbow Falls trailhead, you’ll come across the turn-off for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

This is where the road starts a longer loop back to Gatlinburg.

 

Start the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to get to the Roaring Fork waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

Start the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to get to the Roaring Fork waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

If you are interested in the historical aspect and in learning about the natural landscape that you’ll be driving by, be sure to pick up the Roaring Fork tour booklet so you can make it a self-guided tour as you drive nature trail! 

 

Get the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail tour book before doing the waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

This costs $1. You can pick up a Roaring Fork auto tour booklet by stopping by the information spot that’s located right before the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

 

Where to buy the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail tour book before doing the waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

Where to buy the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail tour book before doing the waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

You can also find them at a Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor center. Cash only, so bring dollar bills! If you still have time before your Smoky Mountains vacation, you can order the Smokies starter kit of tour booklets online too.

 

Start the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to get to the Roaring Fork waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

Start the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to get to the Roaring Fork waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Baskins Creek Falls

Best Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Baskins Creek Falls Trail. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog

 

Info about the trail to Baskins Creek Falls:

  • 3.2 mile round trip hike
  • Allow around 2 hours

 

When it comes to Roaring Fork waterfalls, Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls seem to get all the attention. 

Well, located on the road between those 2 waterfalls you will find the trail to Baskins Creek Falls! These waterfalls are less visited compared to the other 2.

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Baskins Creek Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Baskins Creek Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Baskins Creek Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Baskins Creek Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

 

Read the reviews for Baskins Creek Falls. See more pictures from this Roaring Fork hiking trail.

 

If you want to go directly to the Baskin Creek Falls Trail from Gatlinburg, it’s around a 15 minute drive.

For google maps, your destination can be the Baskins Creek Trail trailhead if you want to drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail after your hike.

If you don’t want to do the drive afterwards, it may be better to park near the Rainbow Fall Bullhead Parking B just before the turn-off onto the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for the quicker return drive. This will add a few minutes of walking to your hike, but it will save drive time after your hike. By parking at the intersection just before it turns into a one-way road, you can take the quicker loop back to Gatlinburg.

For more about this, see the parking tips for Baskins Creek Trail.

 

 

Grotto Falls

Best Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog

 

Official info about the trail to Grotto Falls:

  • 2.6 miles round trip hike
  • Allow 2-3 hours

 

These are another one of the most popular waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg. These are waterfalls that you can walk behind. And just before you get to Grotto Falls, you can see another set of smaller waterfalls too.

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfall hikes - Grotto Falls Trail. Smokies travel blog

 

Read the reviews for Grotto Falls. See more pictures from this Roaring Fork hiking trail.

 

The trailhead to Grotto Falls is located around a 20 minute drive from Gatlinburg.

For google maps, your destination can be Grotto Falls parking.

Similar to Rainbow Falls, because of the popularity of these waterfalls, you might end up parking along the side of the road a bit further away from the trailhead. Once again, hopefully no more than a quarter of a mile away!

Because you’ll be on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, you’ll continue on the road to get back to Gatlinburg, and this will be at least 30 minutes, likely longer due to the slow traffic even if you don’t make any stops.

 

 

Then driving along…

 

 

Driving Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Alex Cole cabin

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See alex cole cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See alex cole cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Driving Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls. Smokies travel blog

Driving Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Ephraim Bales cabin

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See ephraim bales cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See ephraim bales cabin, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Alfred Reagan Tub Mill

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See alfred reagan tub mill, historic mill in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See alfred reagan tub mill, historic mill in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

 

 

Alfred Reagan House

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do near waterfalls: See alfred reagan house, historic place in great smoky mountains national park. Smokies travel blog

 

 

The Place of a Thousand Drips

Best Roaring fork motor nature trail roadside waterfalls - The places of a thousand drips. roadside waterfalls near gatlinburg TN. Smokies travel blog

 

The final waterfalls of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

This is located towards the end of the drive, and it’s possible to see them right from you’re car as you’re driving by. There’s also a small parking area if you want to get out for a closer look too.

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail roadside waterfalls - The place of a thousand drips. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail roadside waterfalls - The place of a thousand drips. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail roadside waterfalls - The place of a thousand drips. Smokies travel blog

 

Read the reviews for the Place of a Thousand Drips.

 

 

And then the end of the road is near!

 

End of the drive on Roaring fork motor nature trail. Smokies travel blog

 

Ely’s Mill

This will mark the end of your time on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

 

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do: Visit Ely's Mill. Smokies travel blog

Roaring fork motor nature trail things to do: Visit Ely's Mill. Smokies travel blog

 

 

And that’s a bit of what it can be like to drive through the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

 

For more great scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains:

 

Be sure to see the list of some more great waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains!

 

HAPPY HIKING TO SEE WATERFALLS IN ROARING FORK!

 

Best Roaring fork motor nature trail waterfalls in Great smoky mountains national park. Best waterfalls near Gatlinburg TN things to do. Best waterfall hikes near Gatlinburg TN. Drive from Pigeon Forge. Smokies travel blog

 

 

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Here are more ideas for a few days in the Smoky Mountains!

More of the best things that the Smoky Mountains is known for is hiking!

If you're looking for just one solid day hike in the Smoky Mountains, there's the Mount LeConte hike. Most often this is done as a day hike, but you can also stay overnight near the Mount LeConte summit! There is the LeConte Lodge, which claims to be the highest guest lodge in the eastern part of the United States! (It does book up!)

There are also lots more hikes that come with mountain views. See more about some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

There are also a lot of hikes to waterfalls. See more about the best waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

You can also go camping in the mountains. See more about the best campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (No showers in the national park, though!)

Cost to go to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There is no national park entry fee for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but as of 2023, there is a parking fee.

You'll need a parking pass when you go to the Smoky Mountains.

You can wait until you arrive to buy the parking pass, or you can buy it online before you go at recreation.gov.

Depending on how many days you will be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the cost of parking will be $5 or $15 per vehicle.

Plan out your time in the Smoky Mountains!

Some of the best known things in Great Smoky Mountains National Park include Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

For Clingmans Dome, you can get great views from the parking lot, or you can hike up to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains! (No matter what, you do need weather on your side, though! For me, 3rd time was the charm at Clingmans Dome!) See more about Clingmans Dome.

For Cades Cove, it's all about the slow-going Cades Cove Loop Road! You can drive it, bike it, or walk it! You can make stops to walk inside historic cabins, see a historic mill, and even do a waterfall hike! See more about Cades Cove.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also a slow-going road that you drive and make stops along the way, including quiet stops along a creek or waterfalls hikes. See more about the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

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