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If you’re planning to spend a day in the national park, take some time and spend it driving Newfound Gap Road. You can pick up an auto tour guidebook at any of the national park visitor centers, then you’ll be on your way to discovering the Smokies! Here’s a few things you may know about the Newfound Gap Road auto tour:
1.Wildlife Animals Cross the Street All The Time
Wildlife is one of the main reasons people choose to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the Newfound Gap Road auto tour, it’s not unusual to see bear, deer, turkey and other wildlife crossing the street. There are a variety of designated pull offs, so it’s best to pull off to take pictures and enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains. This way, you can also avoid causing any sort of back up on the road.
When you take the auto tour, you will be making a nearly 4,000 foot climb up to the peak point, Newfound Gap. Most people don’t realize that the weather changes with the elevation. Even on the hottest summer days, you may feel a cool breeze and cold temperatures. In comparison to Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap may be nearly 15 degrees colder.
If you have questions about the weather, take a look at our most recent Smoky Mountain weather video to check out the forecast.
3. Mile 9 of the Auto Tour is Called “The Loop”
Mile 9 of the Newfound Gap Road auto tour is known to most as ‘The Loop.’ Between Gatlinburg and Newfound Gap, the road lines up next to the Little Pigeon River. For nearly the entire way, the road is curvy and gets more narrow. When you reach the Chimney Tops trailhead, the valley is way too narrow for even the most narrow curve, so they built the loop. It’s said that Wiley Oakley said the loop was created because they built the road and there was some left, so they ‘tied a knot in it.’
- Keep in mind that summertime is a busy season in the Great Smoky Mountains. There is a good chance that the traffic will be heavy, so plan to spend the majority of the day enjoying the mountains. If you don’t have time to spend the whole day in the national park, check out our blog post ‘Recommended Places to Visit for a Half Day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’.
- Remember that there are no gas stations in the national park, so you’ll want to make sure to fill up your gas tank before you begin your drive.
- If you want to take pictures, make sure to use the designated pull offs, so you don’t cause any traffic congestion.
- Don’t always trust your vehicle’s GPS system. Many visitors notice once they’re in the mountains that turn-by-turn directions are often incorrect. There are plenty of signs and mile markers in the national park, so you won’t get lost driving around.
To learn more about the Newfound Gap Road auto tour, and other driving tours in the national park, you can visit the national park’s website at this link: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/autotouring.htm
To see even more information about the national park, take a look at our Great Smoky Mountains National Park page filled with information about auto tours, hiking, fishing and more!
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