Auto touring is one of the very best ways to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies are one of the few national parks that have no entrance fee, no toll roads, and plenty of breathtaking natural beauty that you can enjoy right from your car. If you don’t feel like taking a hike, or if you are traveling with very young kids or older relatives, going for a drive through the mountains is the perfect activity. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Stony Brook Cabins has put together a guide to four incredibly scenic drives in the Smokies.
1. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the most convenient scenic drives in the national park because it is located just minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg! Situated off of Historic Nature Trail, the Roaring Fork area is famous for its beautiful stream, lovely mountain views, spectacular foliage (especially in the fall), and historic buildings. At only 5.5 miles, the one-way loop road that comprises the Nature Trail is a relatively quick trip that you can enjoy after visiting one of the attractions on The Strip. If you want to extend your time in the Roaring Fork area, you can hike one of the nearby trails, such as the Rainbow Falls Trail or the Grotto Falls Trail.
2. Upper Tremont Road
Upper Tremont Road is another one of the best scenic drives in the Smokies. This gravel road near the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a little off the beaten path, but it is definitely worth a visit if you are comfortable driving it. Running along the Middle Prong of the Little River, Upper Tremont Road extends for about three miles before reaching a large parking area where you can get out of the car for a hike, picnic, or swim. As mentioned above, Upper Tremont Road is mostly gravel and frequently has potholes, so it is not for every car.
3. Cades Cove Loop Road
Drawing over 2 million annual visitors, Cades Cove is the most frequented section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This gorgeous valley features an 11-mile, one-way loop road that passes through some of the most stunning scenery in America. As you make your way through the Cades Cove Loop Road, you will see well-preserved log cabins and churches from the 1800s, breathtaking mountain views, and, if you’re lucky, some of the area’s signature wildlife.
Unlike much of the national park, Cades Cove features plenty of wide open spaces, which makes the valley a great place for wildlife viewing. Animals that are known to frequent the area include white-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkey, and black bears. Be sure to bring your camera when you visit Cades Cove!
4. Newfound Gap Road
Newfound Gap Road is an iconic drive that runs right through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, linking Gatlinburg, TN with Cherokee, NC. If you are hoping to visit both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the Smoky Mountains, driving along Newfound Gap Road is the most rewarding route to take.
When you travel along Newfound Gap Road you will enjoy spectacular mountain views that you can admire from a number of strategically located pull offs. A can’t-miss destination located off of Newfound Gap Road is Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the state of Tennessee and along the entire Appalachian Trail. Other highlights of the drive include the TN/NC State Line and the Rockefeller Memorial, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.
When you stay with Stony Brook Cabins, you will be near all of these scenic drives in the Smokies. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 6 bedroom cabins, we are sure to have the perfect property for your escape. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains!