If the open road is calling to you, we have the perfect destination in mind! The Drive, a popular website dedicated to all things automotive, recently published a handy guide to “The Most Driver Friendly States for Road Trips”. We’re pleased to report that Tennessee, and the Great Smoky Mountains in particular, were praised in the article.
In order to determine which states are most welcoming to auto tourists, The Drive drew on reports from Alarms.org, GasBuddy.com, Fodor’s Travel, and other sources. To help you plan your next vacation, Visit My Smokies is sharing a few of the reasons you’ll love road tripping in the Smoky Mountains.
Incredibly Convenient Location
The Great Smoky Mountains attract over 11 million annual visitors, and our fantastic location is a big reason why. Situated close to Interstate Highway 40, the Smokies are just a day’s drive from roughly 2/3rds of the nation’s population. Here is a quick look at how far it takes to get to Gatlinburg, TN from some of America’s major cities:
- Birmingham, AL – 4 hours, 30 minutes
- Atlanta, GA – 3 hours, 45 minutes
- Lexington, KY – 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Louisville, KY – 4 hours, 30 minutes
- Asheville, NC – 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Charlotte, NC – 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Cincinnati, OH – 4 hours, 30 minutes
- Charleston, SC – 5 hours, 15 minutes
- Greenville, SC – 2 hours, 45 minutes
- Memphis, TN – 6 hours, 30 minutes
- Nashville, TN – 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Roanoke, VA – 4 hours
- Huntington, WV – 5 hours
Low Gas Prices
Filling up your tank won’t break the bank when you’re traveling to the Smokies! According to GasBuddy.com, Tennessee has the 9th cheapest gas prices in the United States. The South, in general, has lower gas prices than the rest of the nation, so whether you’re traveling through North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, or Virginia to get to the Smokies, you shouldn’t be paying too much at the pump.
No Toll Roads
In addition to its low gas prices, the state of Tennessee saves drivers money by not having any toll roads. Moreover, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park doesn’t charge an admission fee. When Tennessee ceded land to the federal government to form the national park, the state legislature included a clause ensuring that “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed” in the park. As a result, the Smokies have remained free for visitors to enjoy for over 80 years!
Beautiful Mountain Scenery
Of course, the best part of any road trip to Gatlinburg is driving through the mountains! The national park is home to a variety of lovely roads that offer breathtaking vistas. Fodor’s Travel ranked the Cades Cove Loop, an 11-mile drive through a picturesque valley, the second most scenic road in America. Other popular drives in the Smoky Mountains include:
- Newfound Gap Road
- Wears Valley Road
- Rich Mountain Road
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- The Tail of the Dragon
- Little River Road
For more information about all of these auto touring destinations, check out our guide to the Top 7 Country Roads and Scenic Drives in the Smoky Mountains!