Hi there!

 

Well, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its grand scenic views!

And, it’s very possible to get those grand scenic views from the comfort of your car!

There are a number of scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains. Tennessee. TN. North Carolina. NC. smokies travel blog

 

 

 

First, the quick list of the best roads to consider driving when it’s your first trip to the Smoky Mountains.

Then, a little bit more about each of these roads, including some stops you may want to make along the way!

 

 

Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains

 

1. Newfound Gap Road

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains: Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog
Newfound Gap Road is THE main road that goes through the Smoky Mountains, running north – south. This is among the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and picnic areas directly off of Newfound Gap Road.

If you want just ONE scenic drive, Newfound Gap Road may be the most scenic route in the Smoky Mountains!

 

 

2. Clingmans Dome Road

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains: Clingmans Dome Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog
Drive above the clouds! The end of Clingmans Dome Road will take you to one of THE most popular spots in the Smoky Mountains. You can get grand views of the Smoky Mountains at the end of the road, and then from there you can hike up to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.

 

 

3. Cades Cove Loop Road

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains: Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog
Cades Cove Loop Road is another one of the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a slow-going one-way road that does loop around. You can stop off at historic cabins, a historic mill, and you have a chance at seeing different types of wildlife including BEARS. Along with driving the loop road, it’s also popular to bike the road and walk the road. Wednesdays are designated as car-free days which means you can’t drive the Cades Cove Loop Road on Wednesdays.

 

 

4. Little River Road

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains: Little River Road. TN. smokies travel blog
Little River Road is a winding road that does go right along a river which you’ll see as you’re driving. You can make stops to see small roadside waterfalls or for a picnic along the river.

 

 

5. Foothills Parkway

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains: Foothills Parkway. TN. smokies travel blog
The western Foothills Parkway can be a perfect welcome if you’re driving to the Smoky Mountains from the north like driving down on I-75!

 

 

More below with some ideas on stops to make as you are driving through the Smoky Mountains!

 

 

⛰🐻

 

 

 

And now…

A bit more about some of the best scenic roads in the Smoky Mountains!

 

Newfound Gap Road

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

 

Newfound Gap Road is THE main road that goes through the Smoky Mountains, running north – south. This road connects the gateway towns of Gatlinburg TN in the north to Cherokee NC in the south. This is among the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You’ll get scenic mountain views even as you’re driving without stepping foot out of your car. If you do want an excuse to get out of the car, you’ll find tons of opportunities to do so. There are many scenic overlooks with parking areas.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains: Driving in the Smoky Mountains on Newfound Gap Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

 

For a picnic spot in the mountains, you can find Chimneys Picnic Area (Tennessee) and Collins Creek Picnic Area (North Carolina) along Newfound Gap Road.

The trailheads for some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains can also be found along Newfound Gap Road.

 

 

 

On the north end just before you start Newfound Gap Road you’ll find the Sugarland Visitor Center. On the south end, you can find the Oconaluftee Visitor Center which can be one of the most convenient places to see elk in the Smoky Mountains.

You’ll also find a historic mill on the North Carolina side of the road.

There is one campground along Newfound Gap Road, and that is Smokemont Campground in North Carolina.

 

 

Newfound Gap Road: See more about great hiking trails that start along this Smoky Mountains scenic drive

 

 

Clingmans Dome Road

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Clingmans Dome Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

 

The end of Clingmans Dome Road will take you to one of THE most popular spots in the Smoky Mountains.

At the end of the road is a parking lot and from there you can see grand views of the Smoky Mountains.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Clingmans Dome Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Clingmans Dome Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

 

This is also where you’ll find the start of the Clingmans Dome Trail which will take you to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Clingmans Dome Road. TN. NC. smokies travel blog

 

For more hiking, you can also hike to Andrews Bald from the end of Clingmans Dome Road.

 

 

Clingmans Dome Road: See more about this Smoky Mountains scenic drive
Make it a day trip: Driving from Gatlinburg to Clingmans Dome

 

 

Cades Cove Loop Road

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

Cades Cove Loop Road is another one of the most popular scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is a slow-going one-way road that does loop around. It’s around 11 miles long. There are actually a few different ways you can experience Cades Cove Loop Road, and driving it is one way.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

There are historic cabins (for example the John Oliver Cabin), a historic mill, and the Cades Cove Visitor Center along the way. You may also want to make an extended stop to hike to Abrams Falls, which is among the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains. The Abrams Falls trailhead is located down a road off of Cades Cove Loop Road.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

Aside from driving, biking the Cades Cove loop and walking the Cades Cove loop are popular ways to experience Cades Cove.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Biking or driving in Smoky Mountains on Cades Cove Loop Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

If you will be driving the Cades Cove Loop Road, note that in 2021, Wednesdays are closed to cars all day long. This also makes it the perfect day to bike and walk!

Oh, and it’s not uncommon to see bears in Cades Cove, if seeing bears is one of your goals for your trip to the Smoky Mountains. Be sure to keep your distance from all wild animals though. That’s for your safety, and everyone else’s future safety too. It’s better that bears not get too comfortable with humans.

 

 

See more about this Smoky Mountains scenic road:
Make it a day trip: Driving from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove

 

 

Little River Road

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Little River Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

Little River Road is a winding road that does go right along a river which you’ll see as you’re driving.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Little River Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

There are also some small roadside waterfalls along the way that you can stop to see. (For example: the Sinks, Cane Creek Twin Falls, or Meigs Falls.)

For a picnic spot, you can eat right along the river at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area.

 

Best scenic drives in Smoky Mountains. Driving in Smoky Mountains on Little River Road. TN. smokies travel blog

 

 

Little River Road: See more about this Smoky Mountains scenic drive

 

 

Foothills Parkway

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Driving to Smoky Mountains on Foothills Parkway. TN. smokies travel blog

 

The western Foothills Parkway can be a perfect welcome if you’re driving to the Smoky Mountains from the north on I-75!

For a perfect picnic spot to rest after a few hours of driving, you can go to Look Rock Picnic Area and you can eat with scenic views!

 

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Driving to Smoky Mountains on Foothills Parkway. TN. smokies travel blog

 

You can make the Look Rock overlook your destination on google maps to navigate you onto the Foothills Parkway. And then from there, you’ll continue driving east to get to the main area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (and Gatlinburg).

There is also the eastern Foothills Parkway if you’re coming over from that side that can also be a nice welcome to the Smoky Mountains. That is near Cosby TN (and near Cosby Campground). (map)

 

Western Foothills Parkway: See more about this Smoky Mountains scenic drive

 

 

And that’s a bit about the best drives in the Smoky Mountains!

 

Also see the waterfalls of the Smoky Mountains and the big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains!

 

 

HAPPY DRIVING IN GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK!

 

Best scenic drives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Best drives in Smoky Mountains. Tennessee. TN. North Carolina. NC. smokies travel blog

 

 

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Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains

You will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.

In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).

I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.

They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.

On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.

If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.

Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!

Shop for hiking boots: Merrell is popular and known as a good quality outdoor shoe brand for hiking

Shop for trail running shoes: Salomon is popular and known as a good quality outdoor shoe brand for trail running