Top 4 Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains You Should Experience This Fall

cades cove in the fall
August 23, 2023

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the fall season is with a scenic drive through the Smokies! Gather your family together, hop in the car, and get ready to see some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the country, especially during fall foliage season! Here are the top 4 scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you should experience this fall:

1. Newfound Gap Road

newfound gap road

One of the most spectacular scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains to do during the fall is Newfound Gap Road, which reaches nearly a mile high at some points! This makes it fun to compare the fall colors and see how the leaves have progressed at different elevations. While driving along 31 miles of this scenic roadway, you will find several areas to pull off and admire the panoramic views of the mountains. Don’t miss a stop at Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in Tennessee at 6,643 feet! From this point, you can experience an incredible 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains and see for miles!

2. Cades Cove Loop

The Cades Cove Loop is a must-see destination at any time of year, but this 11-mile loop drive is especially breathtaking during the fall season. The slow-moving, one-way loop allows plenty of time to witness the stunning fall colors and the broad valley. The Cades Cove Loop also features several fascinating historical structures and some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the national park, so keep your eyes open for white-tailed deer and black bears! You should plan to spend at least 2 to 4 hours driving the loop, but allow even more time if you plan to hike some of the area’s trails.

3. Little River Road

little river road

The Little River Road is a peaceful drive that begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and travels for 18 miles to the Townsend entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While driving along this route, you will discover plenty of scenic overlooks to view the fall foliage and several great spots to stop for a picnic! You will also find the trailhead for the 2.5-mile roundtrip hike to Laurel Falls along the Little River Road, as well as the trailhead for Meig Falls.

4. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Another one of the top scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you need to experience this fall is the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This winding road offers 5.5 miles of incredible fall colors, rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old growth forest and several well preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings! Just before starting the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, pull over at the Noah “Bud” Ogle nature trail to see an authentic mountain farmstead and the surrounding hardwood forest. This is also close to the starting point for the 5.4-mile roundtrip hike to Rainbow Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in the national park.

These are our favorite scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains to enjoy during the fall! Would you rather get out of the car and explore the area by foot? Take a look at some of our favorite Smoky Mountain hikes to do during the fall. We look forward to seeing you this fall at Eagles Ridge!