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The Appalachian Lodge
Autumn trees along the Foothills Parkway

Autumn is the most popular time of year in the Great Smoky Mountains. Why, you may ask? Because of the colorful changes happening in the area! So what is the best way to take in this beautiful sight? Driving through the national park. That’s why we’re sharing some of our favorite roads you can’t miss out experiencing while you’re in town. Here are 3 of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives to take in the fall!

1. Newfound Gap Road and Clingmans Dome Road

Autumn along Newfound GapLeaf peepers seeking a view of the fall foliage will enjoy a drive along Newfound Gap Road and up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains. The road begins in Gatlinburg, and you can make a pit stop up to Clingmans Dome. If you continue to the other end of the road, you’ll be in Cherokee, NC. Travelers can expect to see iconic spots like Chimney Tops, Newfound Gap, Mingus Mill, and possibly even a few elk on the Oconaluftee side of the park along this route. Pack a picnic, take your time, and soak up the views from some of the most stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park destinations.

2. Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway is another great Smoky Mountain scenic drive that gives guests a beautiful view of the valley. This is a unique drive, because the road is split into two sections. The road has been completed in sections since it was approved by Congress over 75 years ago, and more sections still need to be completed before the road is finished. One portion of the Foothill Parkway is located in Cosby and the other sections begins in Wears Valley and runs over to Chilhowee, TN. No matter which section of the drive you decide to explore, you’ll get to take in breathtaking yellows, reds, and oranges of the leaves. Guests will find both excellent sunrise and sunset spots along the Foothills Parkway and can expect a more fluid traffic flow during fall peak times.

3. Cades Cove

Cades Cove sceneryTennessee’s most loved valley is the perfect spot for a scenic drive year-round. However, it’s always an extra nice treat to be surrounded by the rolling hills of the Smokies as they become covered in a patchwork quilt of colors. A trip into Cades Cove during fall should be treated as at least a half-day adventure, if not a full day. Pack a picnic, some patience, and just enjoy the beauty and historical homesteads along the way. In addition to the incredible fall foliage, you could also see wildlife in the area and at least 150 feet of distance is required by federal law at all times. No matter what you see while you’re in Cades Cove, you’ll want to bring a camera to take photos of the incredible valley!

Driving through the national park along Smoky Mountain scenic drives is one of the most popular activities to do in the fall. You won’t want to miss out on experiencing it! Since you know what you want to do while you’re in town, you just need a place to stay! Look through our Gatlinburg hotel rooms, and book one for your trip now!