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Top 3 Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives Off the Beaten Path

Motorcycles riding through the smoky mountains
May 6, 2019

You can enjoy the beauty of the Smokies from a comfortable seat in your vehicle as you drive along the scenic roads in the national park! At certain times of the year, there can be quite a bit of traffic on some of the more popular roads, but don’t worry! There are plenty of roads for you to explore with some incredible views off the beaten path and away from the congestion. To help you make the most of your trip, here are 3 of the top Smoky Mountain scenic drives to beat the crowds.

1. Rich Mountain Road

Although you’ll have to travel along part of the busy Cades Cove Loop Road to access this one-way backroad, Rich Mountain Road is still one of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives off the beaten path. This 8-mile, one-way, gravel road provides beautiful views of Cades Cove with a lot less traffic along the way.

2. Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway in the Smoky Mountains

The Foothills Parkway West runs from Walland to Chilhowee. The Foothills Parkway East travels from Cosby to I-40, Exit #443. The road was originally intended to run the entire distance from I-40 to Chilhowee. Unfortunately, funding and legislative difficulties left certain sections incomplete. However, the completed sections of the Parkway are open year round and offer wonderful views of the park and the surrounding countryside.

3. Upper Tremont Road

Another one of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives is along the Upper Tremont Road. You can take your time and enjoy the beautiful views as you travel through this peaceful area. There are even booklets to serve as a guide along this road and a few others. They are keyed to numbered posts or landmarks and include information on park history, wildlife, and plants.

Want to go on a drive that’s close to Gatlinburg? Check out these scenic drives near Gatlinburg!

When to Visit

Visitation is highest along major roads in the park from June to August and during the month of October. If you’re planning on visiting the Smokies during the summer, there are certain times that are better for scenic drives than others. You can usually avoid the crowds by traveling along the roads before 10:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. Keep in mind if you’re driving Rich Mountain Road that you must travel part of Cades Cove Loop Road, which is closed to motorists until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September so that pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy it.

Where to Stay

mountain view from deck of 4 bedroom cabin in the smokies

You can stay close to all the best scenic drives when you select one of our Smoky Mountain cabins for your vacation! You’ll be conveniently located near all the best roads to auto tour. Not only that but also, all the action of the downtown area. Wondering where you should eat while you’re in town? Check out these unique restaurants in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Plus, you can still enjoy some peace and quiet in your own private cabin. Each rental also comes with its own unique set of amenities for you to have fun with while you’re not out and about exploring the Smokies.

Be sure to check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge so that you can find the perfect place to stay near all of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives.

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