5 of the Best Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains You’ll Love

foothills parkway
October 25, 2019

If you’re wanting to explore the Smoky Mountains without ever leaving your car, you should go on a scenic drive! You’ll be able to see waterfalls, creeks, wildlife, and even fall colors from the comfort of your own car. Here are 5 of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you’ll love:

1. Cades Cove

a field in Cades Cove bathed in golden afternoon sunlight

Cades Cove is the top most-traveled scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. Millions of visitors come to this part of the national park every year. The drivable loop is 11 miles long, but there’s a shortcut if you don’t want to travel the whole road. This area is known for its historic buildings you can get out and explore, as well as being an area where you’ll probably see all kinds of wildlife. People love to stop and get out of their cars along the Cades Cove Loop, from taking pictures to hiking one of the trails. Cades Cove has some incredible views and picturesque scenery.

2. Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway is a unique scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. It’s construction started in 1944 and has been completed in phases over the last 75 years. The most recent portion was opened in December of 2018, leaving only a little bit of the Parkway unfinished. Motorists enjoy driving this road because of the beautiful views of the mountain ranges they’ll see. On one end of the road, you can even have a great view of Mt. Crammerer.

3. Roaring Fork Motor Trail

roaring fork motor trail with creek

Want to go on a scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains that’s rustic and feels like you’re really in the backcountry? You should drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. This road gets its name from the “roaring” creek you see when you drive along this road. You can also get out and explore the Ogle homestead, and the trailhead for Rainbow Falls is just beyond this point. To see a waterfall, you don’t even have to get out of your car! You’ll be able to see The Place of a Thousand Drips from the road.

Please Note: The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail closes seasonally from the end of November through mid April.

4. Little River Road

You’ll probably use Little River Road quite a bit if you’re driving around the Smoky Mountains. In the fall, you’ll be able to take in the amazing fall foliage driving on Little River Road. There are plenty of pull offs you might want to stop for as well. You can pull right off the road to see The Sinks, a gushing water feature. You can also see Meigs Falls from the road, but you can always stop for pictures. If you’re wanting to go fishing, you’ll find plenty of pull offs where you can access the river. You’ll also find picnic areas off of Little River Road, and it dead ends at Cades Cove.

5. Newfound Gap Road

Beautiful views along Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Newfound Gap Road is the lowest drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountains. It travels from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. It is the only road that travels through the center of the national park. Along this road, you’ll have amazing views of the mountains and valleys. This is a great road to drive if you’re wanting to see fall foliage and even take a small trip to North Carolina.

You have plenty of options when it comes to scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Looking for other fun things to do? Check out these other fun attractions you’ll want to try!