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Beautiful photo of the Smoky Mountains taken from Newfound Gap Road.

Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives You Don’t Want to Miss on Vacation

When you’re looking for a relaxing drive while you’re on vacation, there’s many great roads in the Smokies to choose from. Take a look at all of our favorite Smoky Mountain scenic drives and country roads for your next getaway:

1. Cades Cove Loop Road

The 11-mile loop road is a perfect drive when you’re looking to explore a little history and see the beautiful scenery in the Smokies. Many visitors would argue that Cades Cove is one of the most beautiful places to see in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Take a look at our video for a view of Cades Cove in the fall:


2. Newfound Gap

This is one of the most scenic highways in the Smoky Mountains. Newfound Gap Road will take you straight across the mountain from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina on a 33 mile road. The drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee along Newfound Gap Road takes about an hour. There’s many places to pull off and stop to take pictures and see views of the mountains, too. You can also pick up a $1 booklet with more information at any of the national park visitors centers.

Learn more about Newfound Gap in our other article: The Truth About Newfound Gap Road and Driving Through the Smoky Mountains

3. Wears Valley Road

This 15-mile road takes you from Pigeon Forge to Townsend, showcasing the beautiful mountainside along the way.

4. Rich Mountain Road

Even though most people already know about Cades Cove, Rich Mountain Road is another peaceful route to take through the mountains. This is an 8 mile, one-way gravel road that offers stunning views of Cades Cove and leads back into Townsend. The entrance to this road is near the halfway point around the Cades Cove Loop Road, across from the Cove’s Missionary Baptist Church.

We recommend taking it slow when you’re exiting Cades Cove on this road because the road is winding and steep.

5. Roaring Fork Motor Nature TrailView of trees and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail driving tour

This 5.5 mile, one-way, loop road is a great, short trip for many people who visit the Smoky Mountains. The narrow, winding road has a number of well-preserved structures like old cabins, grist mills and more. When you take a drive along this Smoky Mountain road, you’ll drive alongside the Roaring Fork stream which is absolutely stunning to see after a heavy rain!

Click here to learn more about Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail from the National Park Service.

6. The Tail of the Dragon

This windy road in the Smoky Mountain area is a popular route for bikers and sports car drivers. There are over 300 curves across the 11 mile road. If you don’t hear it as “The Tail of the Dragon,” you may know this road as Highway 129.

Click here to visit their website for more information about The Tail of the Dragon.

7. Little River Road

Little River Road connects downtown Gatlinburg to Townsend. This is one of the most beautiful drives when you’re looking to see wildflowers, beautiful wooded areas and various waterfalls. Of course, this road also shows beautiful views of the river along the way.

Road covered in snow in the mountainsSeasonal Road Closures

Keep in mind that a few of these roads may be closed in the winter months. Be sure to take a look at the National Park Service’s Seasonal Road Closures so you can plan which Smoky Mountain scenic drives are best for your vacation.

Learn More About the Smoky Mountains

Now that you know all about the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains, we bet you can’t wait to visit! Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then plan your trip!


  • Avatar for Shootfire

    My favorite drive takes you from Dollywood over to I-40. It’s a great road to take if you’re leaving P-Forge and heading home via I-40. From Veterans Blvd in P-Forge, take Dollywood Blvd, which turns into Upper Middle Creek Rd. Follow for 5.4 miles. Turn left on TN-454 and immediately right on TN-416 (Pittman Center Rd). Follow for 1.5 miles, until you approach a river. Turn left on Maples Branch Rd, which turns a tight corner and changes into Richardson Cove Rd. After 0.3 miles, turn left on Dixon Branch Rd. Follow for 2.3 miles. Turn right on TN-339 (Jones Cove Rd), follow for 11 miles. This takes you to TN-321, in Cosby, where you can turn right and then a quick left onto the Foothills Pkwy part of TN-339, and that leads you straight out to I-40.

    This ride includes many tight curves, it is hilly, and passes by some beautiful farmland with the mountains as a backdrop. The speed limit is 45-55, and you may occasionally find someone in a hurry who tail gates you, especially around the evening commute times of, say, 4-6pm. It is also a beautiful ride to take in the evening and end up at one of the vistas on the Foothills Pkwy in time to snap some sunset shots.

    May 16, 2017 at 12:06 am

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