After Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s inception in 1940, auto-touring became, arguably, the preferred method for sightseeing. In those days, the rough trails presented a problem for visitors, so a drive to Clingmans Dome seemed simpler than a long, strenuous hike through the mountains. Now the cleared trails provide easier access for hikers, but auto-touring still has its own benefits.
With over 300 miles of road and countless historical sites, auto-touring is a wonderful way to explore the the mountains. Take a look at a few of our favorite auto-touring trails in the Smokies.
Several popular trails and natural wonders are accessible along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail; these include Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, and A Place of a Thousand Drips, to name a few. For auto-touring, the 6-mile trail offers various pull offs with spectacular views of the mountains, historic mills, and rustic log cabins along the way.
A popular sightseeing destination, Cades Cove features some of the oldest settlements in the Smoky Mountains, with several deemed historically significant by the National Register of Historic Places. Cades Cove Loop encircles the cove in an 11-mile loop, offering breathtaking views of the flora. Bear, deer, and elk sightings are extremely common throughout the cove, so remember to bring your camera.
Known as the main pass through the Smoky Mountains into Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap Road is one of the most important and picturesque roads in the Smokies. As it replaced Indian Gap Road, traffic on the road increased steadily, providing access to popular landmarks such as the Rockefeller Memorial, the site where the park was officially dedicated in 1940. For a peaceful drive through the Smokies, no other road compares.
Ask our friendly reservations for maps of the area. For more tips, tricks, guides, and information related to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook.