Looking for ways to explore the Smokies? Scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains are a pretty popular way to see plenty of historic sights, incredible views, and possibly wildlife. There are several roads you can drive, but we want to share some of the best ones you should try! Some are near our rafting outpost, and others make for a great day trip! Here are the top 6 scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains you should go on:
If you want to take a scenic drive through the mountains that’s quiet, you should drive through Cataloochee. While people enjoy driving in this area, it’s not quite as crowded as other drives in the Smokies! You’ll love the scenic views as you go through the area, and you might just see wildlife while you’re driving through, such as elk. There are also several historic buildings along this drive you can explore.
2. Little River Road
Little River Road is the road that runs from Gatlinburg to Townsend. You can get to several popular spots by driving on this road, including Cades Cove, Metcalf Bottoms, the Y, and the Sinks. You’ll drive along the windy road beside the river, providing you with a beautiful view. There are a few places where you can pull off and get out to explore. This road is especially beautiful in the fall since the colorful leaves are changing on the trees surrounding the road.
3. Foothills Parkway
The closest scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains to our rafting outpost is Foothills Parkway. This beautiful road has been under construction for years and has been completed in sections. There’s about 33 miles left until the road is completely finished, but you can drive on completed sections. You’ll see all kinds of mountain views, which is especially stunning in the fall. There are also plenty of spots where you can stop and take pictures or enjoy being out in nature.
4. Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap is one of the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains! It usually gets snow first, and the road runs from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. There are beautiful views of the mountains, and it’s incredible to drive in the fall. You will find all kinds of hiking trails and sights you’ll want to check out along Newfound Gap.
5. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Roaring Fork Motor Trail is another pretty popular scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a one-way loop, and people usually see wildlife along their drive. You’ll follow along the creek, and the drive will make you feel like you’re far away from it all. There are several places where you can stop and get out to explore historic buildings or hike one of the popular hiking trails.
6. Maggie Valley
Maggie Valley is another quiet-yet-beautiful area people enjoy driving through. You’ll love taking in the quietness of mountain life through any of the beautiful drives it offers. The town itself is an old mountain town with mom and pop shops, arts and crafts, festivals and more. Along your drive through Maggie Valley, you can browse the local businesses along Soco Road, stop by the Maggie Valley Visitor Center or visit the Wheels Through Time Museum!
These scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains are just some of the fun things you can do to enjoy being out in the national park. For more outdoor fun in the Smoky Mountains, come rafting with us at SMO Rafting! Look through our white water rafting in the Smoky Mountains trips and pick one out for your group to try!