Scenic Drives of the Great Smoky Mountains
West Chevrolet is proud to call Alcoa, Tennessee home and recognizes the vast beauty that surrounds us. The Great Smoky Mountains are shared with our neighbors in North Carolina and are worth a day trip to explore the lush countryside.
The Smoky Mountains are a national treasure and worthy of the many songs, stories and legends that surround them. In fact, auto touring of the Smoky Mountains goes back several generations. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most visited national park.
An auto tour of the park offers a variety of experiences, including panoramic views, tumbling mountain streams, weathered historic buildings, and mature hardwood forests stretching to the horizon.
There are 384 miles of road to choose from in the Smokies. Most are paved, and even the gravel roads are maintained in suitable condition for standard passenger cars. Travel speeds on most of the park's paved roads average 35 miles per hour. These are some of the top scenic drives in the Smokies.
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
For scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds through 469 miles of beautiful forest and mountain terrain between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The scenery is outstanding and there are many recreational activities to do along the way; picnic area, hiking trails, camp grounds and visitor centers are just a few. There are also restaurants and lodging along Blue Ridge Parkway.
CADES COVE LOOP
Most of the settler's homes and home sites that can be viewed in Cades Cove will be outside of the road you as you travel the Cades Cove loop. To the center of the loop will be acre upon acre of grass and wildflower fields which were once cleared by frontiersmen for valuable land used for growing things such as wheat, corn and cattle. Nearly all the buildings built by the pioneers and preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are outside the Cades Cove Loop. These remaining original structures, as well as abundant wildlife, are easy to spot as you travel the loop.
The Foothills Parkway has been under construction since 1944, but has been stalled numerous times by funding, making it the oldest unfinished highway project in Tennessee. When completed, the 71 mile parkway will hopefully connect U.S. Route 129 in the west with I-40 in the east. Currently, there are two unfinished ends to this parkway which are open to non-motorized traffic. People can ride their bikes or their horses in from Wears Valley down a four mile stretch until it dead ends at the Missing Link of the parkway, or in from the Walland side and travel nine miles until it deads end as well. There is a rugged 1.25 miles in between the two roads and it is closed to bikes and horses, and not suggested for hikers.
THE TAIL OF THE DRAGON
A world-renowned scenic road connecting Tennessee to North Carolina is US Highway 129. The highway is commonly referred to as "The Tail of the Dragon." Driving the 11-mile road is very curvy, difficult and challenging for most people. There are 318 curves in the 11 mile journey.
Performance drivers rate this as the number one motorcycle and sports car road in the United States. Even though the Tail of the Dragon is a Federal Highway (US 129) which is free and open for the public to enjoy at any time, most motorcyclists and car enthusiasts from around the world say," This is not a road for leisure drivers."
BALSAM MOUNTAIN ROAD
The Balsam Mountain area is well known for its beautiful views and abundance of summer wildflowers. To get to Balsam Mountain Road take the Blue Ridge Parkway for eleven miles until the turn off for Balsam Mountain Campground. From here it is nine miles to the campground with spectacular overlooks along the way. One more mile down the road from the campground is Mile-High Heintooga Picnic Area and overlook. From Heintooga there is an opportunity to go back the way you came, or to return to Cherokee by way of Balsam Mountain Road. The first 18 miles of this road are unpaved and the entire is trip is one-way, but it is fine for passenger vehicles. No buses, trailers or motorhomes are allowed. It will take roughly an hour to get to Cherokee on this scenic road.
Roaring Fork is a favorite to many regulars of the Smoky Mountains. It offers views of old-growth forests, historic cabins, and rushing mountain streams. The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a narrow six mile stretch of twists and turns. Though it is paved, motorhomes, buses, and trailers are not permitted on the trail. The road runs beside beautiful views of forest, waterfalls, and mountain streams. To get to Roaring Fork, turn at traffic light #8 off the main parkway in Gatlinburg, TN and continue along the Historic Nature Trail to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park.
Visit the parks website for more information about routes, weather, closures and more.