Scenic Car Rides in the Smoky Mountains

A curvy road going through the mountains

When planning a vacation to The Smokies, you’ll definitely want to make a visit inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If hiking on foot isn’t in the cards for you then we’re hear to tell you about those scenic car rides! Pack a cooler of drinks, bring some snacks and be sure you’ve got the camera ready to go! Here are some of our favorite scenic car rides in the Smoky Mountains.

The Best Car Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Cades Cove Loop Road

Cades Cove is by far one of the most popular spots in the Smoky Mountains. This motor trail takes you on a one lane, paved, scenic route through beautiful Cades Cove. The 11 mile loop offers up one of a kind views. You’ll get a glimpse at Mother Nature at her finest and you might even get the chance to see some incredible wildlife! Plan on two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you plan on taking in some of the trails. If you decide to hit the trails, be sure you make a trip to Abrams Falls. Cades Cove Loop Road opens at sunrise and closes at dusk. On Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, however, the loop is closed to vehicular traffic until 10 A.M. Directions to Cades Cove


The Best Car Rides in the Smoky MountainsClingmans Dome Road

Clingmans Dome Road is one of the coolest views you can have of the Great Smoky Mountains. This side road is just off Newfound Gap Road and takes you on a 7 mile trip to the top of Clingmans Dome, which is the highest peak in Tennessee. There are several “pull offs” on your way to the observation deck that provide unique views of the Smokies. Clingmans Dome Road dead ends at the parking lot of Clingmans Dome, and a short half mile hike from there to the observation tower. On a clear day, you can expect views over 100 miles. Clingmans Dome Road, however, is closed from December 1st through March 31st. Directions to Clingmans Dome Road 


The Best Car Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Newfound Gap Road

The premier route from Gatlinburg to North Carolina, offers incredible views. Newfound Gap Road runs 33 miles of mountainous road and climbs all the way up to Newfound Gap. There are several pull offs with great panoramic views of the Smokies. To drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC, will take you around an hour. Once you arrive at Newfound Gap, there’s a big parking lot with restrooms. Be on the lookout for hikers in the area. Access to the Appalachian Trail is also at Newfound Gap and the trail has it’s own crosswalk through the parking lot. Directions to Newfound Gap

The Best Car Rides in the Smoky Mountains


Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one the most popular routes to see the beautiful fall landscape of the Smoky Mountains. The Parkway starts at the Cherokee Indian Reservation, which is just southeast of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the best parts about the Blue Ridge Parkway, is commercial vehicles are not allowed. If you are traveling from the Pigeon Forge area you can expect a further drive to access the Blue Ridge Parkway, but if you’ve got the time, it’s worth the drive! You can take the Parkway all the way to Maryland if you felt like a real road trip! Directions to the Blue Ridge Parkway


The Best Car Rides in the Smoky MountainsFoothills Parkway

Now, fully completed, the Foothills Parkway connects This 72 mile long road can now connect visitors from Interstate 40 east of Cosby, TN all the way to Chilhowee, TN. The Foothills Parkway has four different sections. There’s a 17 mile stretch that begins in Townsend which is the access point to Look Rock. The northern section of the Parkway runs just over 5 and a half miles from Cosby to I-40 near Stone Mountain. The middle section is what connects Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. This completed Parkway provides stunning views the Great smoky Mountains. Directions to the Foothills Parkway 



The Best Car Rides in the Smoky MountainsRoaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

This 6 mile, one-way loop is the closest vehicle trail to Gatlinburg. You can access the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail by turning on Historic Nature Trail Road at traffic light #8. You’ll travel down this road till you arrive at the Cherokee Orchard entrance. Buses, trailers and RV’s are not allowed on this trail. You’ll see some amazing shots that are worth taking, like, wildlife, log cabins and streams. The Rainbow Falls Trail is also accessible from the Roaring fork Motor Nature Trail. You will have to hike up to the Falls, which is just under 5 and a half miles roundtrip. Directions to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 


The Best Car Rides in the Smoky MountainsThe Road to Nowhere- Lakeview Drive

Have you ever decided to drive until you got to the middle of nowhere? If so, you’re in luck! Lakeview Drive, which is known as “The Road to Nowhere” is a 6 mile road that starts just outside of Bryson City, NC and ends…literally, in the middle of nowhere. Seriously…the road just ends! You will find a man-made tunnel at the end of the road however and some great views along the way! Directions to The Road to Nowhere




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