The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has established itself as one of the most attractive and visited tourist destinations in the world.
With trails that lead to breathtaking views and waterfalls and mountain top lookouts, it’s no wonder that it draws more than 14 million visitors each year. But with so many great places to go, how do you decide where to go first?
Use this list of the ten best views in the Smoky Mountains to make the most out of your next (or first) trip to Tennesse.
Top 10 Best Views In The Smoky Mountains
- Cades Cove
- Newfound Gap Road
- Clingmans Dome
- Mount LeConte
- Laurel Falls
- Andrews Bald
- Chimney Tops Trail
- Rocky Top
- Gregory Bald
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is an isolated and stunning valley surrounded by lush mountains and offers one of the most spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains.
Cades Cove is a wildlife enthusiast paradise, providing viewers with plenty of opportunities to spot animals like the white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, and groundhog. The valley has a rich history of hunting and settlements.
You can tour the cove on an 11-mile one-way loop road around the valley that gives travelers a chance to explore and take in the gorgeous views of the remote valley.
After exploring the incredible historic destination, you can hike on numerous trails that originate from here to Abrams Falls and Thunderhead Mountain.
You can expect heavy traffic in summer, fall, and weekends so try to avoid those if you want to immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of the area!
2. Newfound Gap Road
At an elevation of 5,056 feet, the Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass in the Smoky Mountains, and it does credit to the spectacular scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The title of the lowest pass was first given to the Indian Gap, which a Swiss geographer later displaced. He discovered a new road and, instead of getting creative with titles, named it the Newfound Gap Road.
A drive through Newfound Gap Road is nothing short of a magical trip, with a backdrop of a variety of forest ecosystems ranging from pine-oak to cove hardwood.
You can take a hike on the nearby Appalachian Trail that connects North Caroline with Tennessee. Newfound Gap is much cooler as compared to other lowlands and, as a result, receives more snow with temperatures going up to 10 F.
Do not forget to bring a jacket along if you want to really enjoy the hike! Also, remember to visit the popular Rockefeller Memorial dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt honors the $5 million donation that resulted in the creation of the Smoky Mountain National Park that we see today.
Suppose you cross all the way to North Caroline. In that case, you will find one of the popular historical destinations on this road, Mingus Mill.
3. Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome, which sits at an altitude of 6,643 feet, is the highest point in all of Smoky Mountains National Park.
It offers a majestic overview of the landscape like no other! Visitors have to climb a steep half-mile paved walk to the top of the summit of the observation tower, and it’s definitely worth the hard work!
From here, you will get spectacular views of the Smokies and seven nearby states (Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Alabama).
With such high elevation, temperatures are bound to drop to 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit and the area is dominated by clouds and precipitation, so be prepared for anything!
You will have multiple photo-worthy scenic overlooks along the way to the tower, so don’t forget to brag later about how you accomplished a summit on your own!
Avoid bringing pets, bicycles, and wheelchairs because the trail to the tower is very steep. From this point, you can start your journey to The Appalachian Trail, marking the highest point between Georgia and Maine.
If you’re driving from Newfound Gap Road, you can visit the observational tower from a turnoff on Clingmans Dome Road.
4. Mount LeConte
If you’re an adventure-seeking person with a lot of stamina, then Mount LeConte is the perfect trail for you! Mt. LeConte is the third highest peak in Smokies, and the hike between Alum Cave Trail is by far the most challenging on this list.
With a distance of 11 miles and an elevation gain of 2,763 ft., this is not your average hike and requires great stamina, time, and dedication to summit the mountain.
Once you arrive at your destination, the struggle will all be worth it as you will be met with stunning panoramic views. Mt.LeConte is mostly covered in clouds and fog throughout the year so make sure that you take your hiking shoes because the hike will last for 6-8 hours.
On your climb towards the mountain, you will come across water crossing ledges, and 2.2 miles in, you will reach Alum Cave.
5. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is an 80 ft. high waterfall consisting of two sections divided by a walkway where you can get close-ups of this glorious marvel of nature.
The waterfall takes its name after the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that grows along the trail of the waterfall. It’s not a challenging hike, and it’s a 2.6 miles round trip, and the view is well worth the effort!
Although the trail is paved, it can become uneven, rough, and steep on certain spots along the pavement, so avoid bringing children and wheelchairs.
The Laurel Falls trail is one of the four longest paved trails in the park and was originally built as a pathway for fire crews to access remote areas like Cove Mountain in case of a mishap.
Black Bears are a very common sighting near this area. If you spot one on your hike, don’t try to feed or approach it and always maintain a distance for your safety.
Don’t try to climb on the rock to get the perfect shot because the area around the fall is slippery, and people have been severely injured while trying it in the past.
6. Andrews Bald
Andrews Bald is an underrated but beautiful spot for hikers to get the perfect view of the Smoky Mountains. The trail to this destination begins from the southern edge of Clingmans Dome.
After you have hiked for a tenth of a mile, meeting the endangered spruce-fir forest along the way, you will take the left interchange from the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail.
Here you will meet Andrews Bald, a beautiful grassy meadow that makes an ideal location for a family picnic! The weather remains pleasant, and you’re surrounded by panoramic views of Fontana Lake and southern Smokies.
In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, elevated grassy meadows are called balds, and Andrews Bald is the highest bald in the Smoky Mountains.
However, the hike to Andrews Bald wasn’t always this easy. Back in the day, the hike was full of rugged and rocky trails with loose gravel and uneven surfaces.
In the fall of 2008, the Trails Forever Program helped the trail to rebuild its glory and made much-needed improvements that we can see today!
7. Chimney Tops Trail
The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies, and for all the right reasons. The views from the top are incredible, and you can see for miles.
The hike to the top is 2 miles, but the 1,400 feet elevation makes it steeper and more challenging for beginners. Just make sure to wear some high-quality hiking shoes and bring as much water as possible.
The top section of the trail was damaged heavily by a fire, resulting in the blockage of that area from the public. However, the trail was recently renovated with the help of the Trails Forever Program to preserve these natural gems.
The new vantage point offers even more stunning views of the Smokies. The trail has 3.5 miles round trip and begins with a strenuous climb through Sugarland Mountain.
8. Mount Cammerer
Mt Camerer is a very popular high mountain and backcountry destination in the Great Smoky Mountains. Mt. Cammerer is a volcanic mountain in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The summit of this 4,883-foot peak offers views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. This is a 5-mile hike that can be done in one or two days.
It is a very strenuous hike but offers excellent views of the mountains and can be done as a day hike or overnight trip. It is most popular with backpacking enthusiasts due to its rugged terrain and remote location.
The trailhead is located at the foot of Mt. Cammerer on the Appalachian Trail at an elevation of 3,400 feet. There are only about seven campsites along the trail, so this is not a good place for camping unless you have a large group that can share one site.
The park service maintains the trail with great views of the mountains and is well maintained. If you want to do Mt Cammerer in the Smoky Mountains, here are some things you should know.
- There are multiple trails that lead up to Mt Cammerer; we recommend taking the Appalachian Trail to avoid over-trampling.
- Don’t bring dogs or any other pets.
- There’s no potable water source on the trail; you must bring your own water.
- Bring plenty of food to last throughout the hike.
9. Rocky Top
Rocky Top is located in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. This park has a number of attractions, including a scenic drive, camping sites, and waterfalls. There are also several hiking trails that offer a scenic view of the surrounding area.
If you are looking for a place to go for a romantic trip or getaway, Rocky Top is one of the best options! You will be able to enjoy the beautiful views and wildlife along with your loved ones.
There are also a lot of activities that you can do together such as fishing and hiking. If you are looking for somewhere to spend your honeymoon, Rocky Top is one of the best places to go.
Fun things to do in Rocky Top include hiking trails, hanging out at the park, swimming at the lake, or going fishing at one of the many lakes around town. Several local bars and restaurants offer a variety of delicious food.
10. Gregory Bald
If you are a nature lover and not afraid of taking on new adventures, then the hike to Gregory Bald is meant for you!
The hike to Gregory Bald is bound to be a strenuous one, with a steep and constant elevation of 3,020 feet. The hard work will eventually pay off as you reach the summit adorned with blooming flame azaleas and gorgeous views of the mountain vistas surrounding you!
Two ways to get to Gregory Bald are via the Cades Cove Loop or the Little River Road. The loop trail is an 8-mile round trip that travels through Cades Cove, with views of the surrounding area along the way.
The Little River Road is a shorter route that takes about 2 hours to complete. The surrounding area offers hiking trails and camping sites, making this a great stop for any outdoor enthusiast.
When you arrive at Gregory Bald, make sure to check out the nearby Shadowland Trail, where you can see a massive boulder creating its own mini-glacier.
From there, you can go on a hike to Cades Cove’s famous overlooks, including Old Sugar Mill and Devils Racetrack.