Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour


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πŸš—πŸ”οΈ Get ready to rev up your engine and embark on an unforgettable self-driving tour through the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park! 

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With as your guide, you'll be discovering hidden gems, capturing postcard-worthy views, and immersing yourself in the ri, fascinating history,ry, and vibrant natural beauty of this spectacular region. So, buckle up, grab your camera, and let's hit the open road for the adventure of a lifetime! πŸ“ΈπŸŒ„

road, wood, nature

Welcome to the Great Smoky Mountains Tour 

A family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove is the perfect opportunity to create lasting memories, and the self-driving bundle tours are designed with families in mind. Here's why you should book the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove Self-Driving Bundle Tours for your next family getaway:

  1. 🀩 Fun for all ages: The bundle tours offer a variety of activities that cater to family members of all ages. From scenic drives and leisurely hikes to historic sites and wildlife spotting, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

  2. 🌳 Quality family time: The self-driving tours allow you to bond as a family while exploring the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains at your own pace. With no rush or schedule to follow, you can take your time, making the most of each stop and creating cherished memories together.

  3. πŸ“š Educational experience: The tours provide an immersive and engaging way for kids and adults alike to learn about the history, culture, and ecosystems of the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. The historic cabins, working grist mill, and informative visitor centers offer a fascinating glimpse into the region's past.

  4. πŸ’° Affordable adventure: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a small entrance fee, making it an economical choice for families on a budget. The self-driving bundle tours allow you to experience the park's wonders without breaking the bank.

  5. πŸ“Έ Picture-perfect moments: The stunning landscapes, majestic wildlife, and historic sites you'll encounter on the self-driving bundle tours provide ample opportunities for unforgettable family photos. Capture the magic of your vacation and treasure those moments for years to come.

  6. 🌲 Outdoor exploration: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove offer a chance for families to disconnect from their daily routines and reconnect with nature. The self-driving tours encourage outdoor exploration, promoting physical activity and a healthy appreciation for the natural world.

mountains, highway, asphalt

So pack your bags, gather the family, and book the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove Self-Driving Bundle Tours for an unforgettable adventure that the whole family will treasure!

As frequent visitors to the Smokies and proud vacation rental owners, Sue and Brian know that one of the best ways to explore the great smoky mountains area is by taking a scenic driving tour. 

The Great Smoky Mountains offer some of the most breathtaking views in the country, and these driving tours make it easy for families and vacationers alike to enjoy the beauty of the great smoky mountains without breaking a sweat. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the great smoky mountains driving tour by driving tour of the best scenic drives in the Great Smoky Mountains alone! πŸ˜ƒ

car, forest, yellow car

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Overview and history 

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a 5.5-mile one-way loop that takes you through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls, and historic homesteads. 

This leisurely drive is perfect for families with young kids or anyone who wants to take in the beauty of the Smokies at a slower pace. Don't miss the Grotto Falls trailhead, where a 1.4-mile hike rewards you with a breathtaking waterfall. 

Pro tip: Leave early to beat the crowds and secure a parking spot.

Points of interest 

  • Grotto Falls: A short hike from the parking area, Grotto Falls is a must-see on this drive. The 25-foot waterfall is unique because you can walk behind it for a truly immersive experience.

  • Historic cabins: Along the trail, you'll find several well-preserved log cabins, offering a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers in the area.

Tips for visiting 

Visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds, and don't forget your camera! πŸ“Έ

trees, fog, street

Cades Cove Loop Road 

Introduction to Cades Cove

Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one-way loop that takes you through a picturesque valley surrounded by towering mountain peaks. 

It's one of the most popular destinations in the Smokies and for a good reason – the drive-through cades cove loop offers stunning views of towering mountains, many forest and historic buildings and structures, and ample opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Take your time and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Remember, it's closed to motor vehicles on Wednesdays – a perfect time for a bike ride!

Highlights of the loop 

  • John Oliver Cabin: This well-preserved cabin dates back to the early 1820s and offers a fascinating look into the lives of the first European settlers in the area.

  • Cable Mill Area: Stop by the Cable Mill Area to see a working grist mill, blacksmith shop, and other historic buildings.

Wildlife sightings 

Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and even black bears as you drive through Cades Cove. 🐻

car, suv, mud

Newfound Gap Road 

Overview and significance 

Newfound Gap Road is a 33-mile stretch that connects Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Cherokee, North Carolina. This scenic drive takes you scenic drives take you through a variety of ecosystems, from lush forests to windswept peaks.

Don't forget to stop at the Newfound Gap overlook, where you can straddle the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina!

Notable stops 

  • Sugarlands Visitor Center: Start your journey here to grab maps, chat with rangers, and learn more about the park.

  • Chimney Tops Overlook: Pull over at this overlook for an unforgettable view of the Chimney Tops, a unique rock formation that's a favorite among hikers.

Seasonal highlights

In the fall, Newfound Gap Road is a fantastic place to see the leaves change color. In the spring, wildflowers abound, making it a photographer's paradise. 🌼

hiking, trail, smoky mountains

Little River Road 

Introduction and route 

This 18-mile stretch connects Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Townsend "Y" intersection. It's a lovely drive with several pullouts and scenic overlooks that offer stunning views of the Little River and surrounding mountains.

Highlights visited national park include the Laurel Falls trail, tour leads through a scenic valley featuring mountain streams and an 80-foot waterfall just 1.3 miles from the road.

Points of interest

  • The Sinks: A popular spot for photographers, The Sinks is a cascading waterfall

The sink is a cascading waterfall that's easily accessible from the parking area just off Little River Road. 🌊

  • Laurel Falls: A short 1.3-mile hike from the road takes you to this stunning 80-foot waterfall, making it a perfect spot for a family adventure.

Best time to visit (H3)

Spring is an ideal time to drive Little River Road, as the wildflowers are in full bloom and the waterfalls are at their most impressive. 🌸

beautiful, great, great smoky mountains

Clingman's Dome Road 

Overview and elevation 

Clingman's Dome Road is a 7-mile drive that leads to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome, which stands at 6,643 feet. The road is steep and winding, offering fantastic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Brave the half-mile hike to the famous observation tower, for panoramic views of a stunning mountain pass that can stretch up to 100 miles on clear days! 

Note that the road is closed from December 1 through March 31.

Clingman's Dome Observation Tower, where, on a clear day, you can see up to 100 miles away! πŸŒ€οΈπŸ”­

At the top 

Once you reach the end of the road, take the half-mile hike to Clingman's Dome Observation Tower for a panoramic view of the Smokies. 

On a clear day, you can see great smoky mountains and see up to 100 miles away! 🏞️

Seasonal closures 

Be aware that Clingman's Dome Road is closed from December 1 through March 31 due to winter weather conditions. ❄️

country road, fall, color

Rich Mountain Road 

Introduction and scenery

Rich Mountain Road is an 8-mile, one-way dirt road that offers a quieter and more secluded alternative to the popular Cades Cove Loop. This scenic drive takes you through dense forests, open meadows, and past historic homesteads.

This dirt route to the national park offers a more secluded experience of the most visited national park, with open meadows, dense forests hiking trails famous waterfalls hiking trails, and historic homesteads in the national park. 

Fall is the best time to visit national parks, as the foliage colors in the most visited national park, are simply stunning.

Points of interest 

  • Caldwell Place: This historic cabin, built in the 1890s, is a great place to stop and explore as you drive along Rich Mountain Road.

  • Wildlife viewing: With fewer visitors, Rich Mountain Road is an excellent spot to see wildlife like white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. 🦌

Best time to visit

Rich Mountain Road is a perfect drive during the fall, as the foliage colors and scenic mountains are vibrant, and the cooler temperatures make for a comfortable journey. 🍁

🌟🌳 As you wrap up your epic Great Smoky Mountains National Park self-driving tour, you'll leave with a treasure trove of memories and a newfound appreciation for the breathtaking beauty of this majestic region. We at are honored to have shared this journey through the national park with you and hope you'll return for more unforgettable adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge, and Cape San Bl national parkas areas. Until next time, happy trails! πŸš—πŸŒ²

cabin, log house, tennessee

Is there a driving tour of the Smoky Mountains?

Yes, there are several other scenic drives and driving tours in the Smoky Mountains, including Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Cades Cove Loop Road, Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, Clingman's Dome Road, and Rich Mountain Road.

How long does it take to drive across the Smoky Mountains?

Driving across the Smoky Mountains can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the route chosen, traffic conditions, and the number of stops made to enjoy the stunning views, scenic trails, historic sites, and points of interest along the tour route.

Can you just drive through Smoky Mountain National Park?

Absolutely! You can drive through Smoky Mountain National Park on roads like Newfound Gap Road, the most accessible trail, which connects the great foothills national park byway, upper Tremont Road, and blue ridge parkway to the great smoky mountains national park, from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Cherokee, North Carolina, a scenic trail offering beautiful views of majestic smoky mountains begins the great smoky mountains national park, service that the most visited national park's diverse forest ecosystems there.

How much does it cost to drive through the Smoky Mountains?

Driving through the national park in the foothills parkway and driving the trail invites Great Smoky Mountains national park is a very low cost. Just pack your snacks, and camera, and enjoy the picturesque drives through the Great and foothills parkway and the Great Smoky mountains national park.