There’s plenty to do during your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains that gets you out on the town, cruising around on a bike, or tromping through a forested trail. But sometimes it’s easier (and necessary) to get in the car and observe this magical land from the comfort of your vehicle. While much of the Smokies can be enjoyed from the road, we’ve offered three great scenic drives for you when your legs need a break.
Scenic Drives #1: The Most Popular & Beautiful Valley: Cades Cove
Cades Cove is a beautiful valley located between Gatlinburg and Maryville. It is the most popular destination in all of the park and for good reason. Because of its openness, you can take in the splendor of the mountains and more than likely see some wildlife. Cades Cove also makes it easy to enjoy the area by car, as the valley has an 11-mile loop road where visitors are encouraged to drive at a leisurely pace to view the park and all the valley has to offer. If you have the time, you can also get out of your car and explore the historic houses, mills, and churches in the valley.
Scenic Drives #2: Lowest Elevation Pass: Newfound Gap Road
The Newfound Gap is a 31-mile pass in the Great Smoky Mountains and sits at an elevation of 5,046 feet, making it the lowest elevation pass in the park to be drivable by car. As you begin your drive, you’ll slowly start going up about 3,000 miles. Watch as the ecosystem around you changes with your elevation gain, moving from hardwood trees like pine-oak up to a dense forest of evergreen spruce-firs. While the Gap Road is enough in and of itself, you’ll also have easy access to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park.
Scenic Drives #3: Most Scenic Foothills Parkway From Wears Valley
This national parkway extends for 71 miles through the northern section of the park, but the section from Wears Valley is the most scenic. There are no businesses along the parkway which allows you to really become immersed in the natural world. But it also means you’ll have to start with a full tank of gas and maybe bring food along for a picnic.
So grab your phone, pull up Google Maps, and get ready to make some memories because your trip to Sevierville just got a whole lot more scenic!