The main one heads out along I-40 then off Exit 407 into Gatlinburg. The alternative is State Route 441 out of Knoxville’s downtown, which leads through Seymour and Pigeon Forge before arriving at the national park. Either way, it’s possible to get to the ‘Smokies’ within a couple of hours.
But can you see the Smoky Mountains from Knoxville? Well, it may depend on factors such as your eyesight, vantage point, and any equipment involved.
But one possible response here is which bit? The Smoky Mountains National Park lies to the south of Knoxville, and locals also swear it’s possible to see downtown Knoxville from the western overlook of the Smokies on a clear day.
Knoxville and the Smokies – a few Things to know
- Where is Knoxville exactly?
- How far is it from the Smokies?
- Which part of the SM is visible from Knoxville?
Where is Knoxville Exactly?
Knoxville is situated in the Great Valley of East Tennessee along the Tennessee River. This geography places it between the Cumberland Mountains to its northwest and the main bulk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the southeast.
It was an abundance of natural resources helped along by river-generated power that gained Knoxville’s repute as an important modern city at the turn of the 20th century, as well as being regarded as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On top of that, it serves as the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
How far is Knoxville from the Smokies?
Well, this is the thing. As it turns out, Knoxville is actually classified as being located within the Great Smoky Mountains!
A spot renowned for its natural scenery, the town is a place where you can stop and spend at least one day in the mountains. Aside from that though, Knoxville offers a variety of amenities and things to do as one of the developed mountain regions.
When it comes to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville though, it’s worth knowing there’s a distance of 63 miles between the two if you are driving.
Depending on which of the two available routes out of the town you take, the drive from Knoxville to Great Smoky Mountains National Park won’t take much more than 1.5 hours.
Which Part of the Smokies is Most visible?
This one might first require a bit of breaking down before any attempt to define it. This complexity is largely due to the sheer land mass of the region.
So the western segment of the high Appalachian Mountains straddles eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Smoky Mountains are included as part of the Appalachian range and in turn comprise sections of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which they blend with easily along the hazy Blue Ridge escarpment across to the east side of North Carolina.
Some of the factors affecting potential views and the visible ‘layers’ or sections relate to light, weather, climatic factors (natural and otherwise), and the time of day.
Can You See the Smoky Mountains from Knoxville – The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, Knoxville isn’t exactly located within the heart of the Tennessee Mountains and is clearly no small mountain town as Tennessee’s third-largest city. However, it is close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains to be able to see and feel them.
Whether you call it the Great Appalachian Valley or use the more local term Tennessee Valley, this scenic spot midway between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau is a great place to stop off on your way into the Smoky Mountains National Park.
You might find the views from Knoxville will be good enough to provide a taster of what to expect and whet your appetite for what’s to come when you get closer to the Smoky Mountains.