3 of the Best Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains You Have to Try

By Darryl Payne
Posted on November 5, 2018

Cades Cove in Winter time.

It's no secret that the Smoky Mountains are full of gorgeous sights to be seen. If you don't feel like hiking on foot, you can see some of the most beautiful scenes from the comfort of your vehicle! To help guarantee you have the best time while you're here, we've put together a list of 3 of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains that you have to try.

1. Cades Cove Loop Road

The ​Cades Cove Loop Road​ is an 11-mile one-way loop road that offers motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Cades Cove is one of the most popular spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Along the road, you can see everything - historic sites, stunning views, and wildlife! Some of the rich history you can see in Cades Cove include 3 churches, a working grist mill and log houses. Cades Cove also offers some of the best opportunities to see wildlife, from black bears, to white-tailed deer, to wild turkey. Traffic is especially heavy during the summer and fall, as well as weekends throughout the year.

2. Newfound Gap

Newfound Gap​ is another one of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. It is the lowest drivable pass in the national park and travels from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg into Cherokee, North Carolina. Not only is it the fully paved road in the park, but it is the only one that travels through the park's center. Along your drive, you'll pass through woodlands that include pine-oak, evergreen spruce, and cove hardwoods. This makes it especially beautiful during the fall when the leaves change from various shades of green to oranges, reds, and yellows. A trip along Newfound Gap Road has been compared to a drive from Georgia to Maine in terms of the variety of forest ecosystems you'll experience!

3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The ​Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail​ is a 5.5-mile, one-way, loop road that includes gorgeous views and historic sites. You will be able to see rushing mountain streams, glimpses of an old-growth forest, as well as a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings. One of the highlights of this trail is the Place of a Thousand Drips, a “wet weather” waterfall that is one of the few waterfalls in the national park that you can drive to! Right before you enter the trail, stop to explore the Noah “Bud” Ogle homestead, which features a log cabin, tub mill, and old flume plumbing system. If you feel like getting out and walking any during your scenic drive, explore some of the popular hikes like Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls!

These are just a few of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains! Picture-perfect scenes are around every turn in the national park. Learn more about the ​Great Smoky Mountains National Park​, then start planning your visit!

A tunnel on the way to the top of the mountain - Newfound Gap Road
Noah Bud Ogle log cabin on the motor nature trail in Gatlinburg.



Darryl Payne the blogger

About Darryl Payne

Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.


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