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Four of the Most Scenic Views in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains holds the title of the most visited national park in the United States. This majestic national park straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Known for its stunning views, diverse wildlife, and rich history, this park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to some of the most scenic views in the country and will not fail to leave you breathless!

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Cades Cove. Grat Smoky Mountains.

Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is undoubtedly one of the most stunning views in the Great Smoky Mountains.  At 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the highest point in Tennessee. The Dome is accessible via a 7-mile road that begins just past Newfound Gap and leads up the mountain to the Forney Ridge Parking Area, 330 feet below the summit. The 45-foot-high observation tower, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers breathtaking views of the Smokies and on clear days visitors may see as far as 100 miles.

The observation tower at the top of Clingman’s dome gives you 360-degree views of the Smoky Mountains. Climbing this point at sunset will give you unparalleled views, if you are lucky enough to catch a cloudless day. The climb to the top is about a half mile along a paved walkway, and the views at the top are well worth it. After catching the sunset, stick around to find amazing night sky views.

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View from the path leading to Clingman’s Dome.

Cades Cove

The 11-mile drive around the Cades Cove valley is one of the most scenic areas in the Smoky Mountains. Cades Cove was a hunting grounds for the Cherokee Indians for hundreds of years and the site of a European settlement in the 1800’s. Today the area offers beautiful scenery with towering mountains as the backdrop, historic buildings to explore, miles of hiking trails, and roaming wildlife to admire.

Along the drive you will find plenty of pull-outs where you can stop and admire the views. From Cades Cove, you can access the Abrams Falls trail, the Cades Cove Nature Trail, Thunderhead Mountain trail, and Rocky Top trail. Plan for at least 2-4 hours for visiting Cades Cove, especially if visiting during high traffic times.

Arriving early in the morning or later in the evening will give you the best chance of viewing the area’s black bears, white-tailed deer, coyote, and other wildlife roaming the area. An early morning drive will also help you avoid the massive crowds that are drawn to this area of the park and the backed-up traffic that results. On select days and times (usually Saturday and Wednesday mornings) the road is closed to auto traffic and open to bikers only. Be sure to check with NPS before your visit for exact times.

There is also a visitor center located in Cades Cove. It is located at about the half-way point of the drive and offers restrooms and a bookstore.

Cades Cove, one of the most scenic views in the Great Smoky Mountains
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Wildlife Grazing at Cades Cove.

Roaring For Motor Trail

Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail is anotherone of the most scenic views in the Great Smoky Mountains. The motor trail is a 5.5-mile-long loop trail along a narrow, winding road that takes you along the Roaring Fork mountain stream, past historic buildings, and past jaw dropping mountain views. The trail starts at the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail entrance, located just outside of the Gatlinburg city limits. The road is narrow and winding, with several spots where drivers must maneuver around tight curves and narrow bridges. However, the drive is well worth it as the views are spectacular.

Along the way, visitors can stop at several historic buildings, including a grist mill, a cabin, and a barn that early settlers lived in. The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is also home to several popular hiking trails, including the Rainbow Falls Trail, which leads to an impressive 80-foot waterfall. You will also find trail access for Grotto Falls and Place of a Thousand Drips.

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Historic Mill along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

Newfound Gap

The Newfound Gap Road is the lowest elevation drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountains at an elevation of 5,046 feet. The road takes visitors from Cherokee to the Newfound Gap past many different ecosystems, including cove hardwood, pine, oak, northern hardwood forest, and the evergreen spruce-fir forest at Newfound Gap. The Newfound Gap Road, which runs through the pass, is the main route through the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can stop at the overlooks along the road to take in the panoramic views of the park’s diverse landscapes.

The Newfound Gap parking area is also the starting point for several popular hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail and the Alum Cave Trail. At the parking area visitors can stand on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. The Newfound Gap area is also home to the Rockefeller Memorial, a tribute to the national park’s founding, and a small museum dedicated to the park’s history. Newfound Gap is open year-round, with visitors enjoying stunning foliage in autumn and the-capped peaks in winter.

Newfound Gap road overlook most scenic views in the Great Smoky Mountains
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View from an overlook along Newfound Gap Road.

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Four of the Most Scenic Views in the Great Smoky Mountains
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