September 28, 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains are beautiful year-round, but their beauty really shines in the fall. The mountains come alive with vibrant fall foliage in shades of yellow, red, and orange. There are lots of great ways to enjoy the fall scenery, but one of the best ways is going on a fall scenic drive. Here’s a list of some of the top scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains to experience the magnificent fall foliage.

1. Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road in fall

If you are looking for beautiful fall scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains, make sure you check out Newfound Gap Road. This scenic drive is the lowest drivable pass in the national park. As you drive along the road, you’ll see overlooks with breathtaking views and plenty of opportunities to take in the natural scenery. In the fall, you’ll be surrounded by brilliant fall foliage and have the chance to stop at the overlooks to see the mountains around you covered in fall colors. Newfound Gap Road spans a total of 33 miles and travels from Gatlinburg, TN, to Cherokee, NC.

2. Cades Cove Loop Road

One of the most popular fall scenic drives is Cades Cove Loop Road. This Smoky Mountain scenic drive is a one-way loop that spans 11 miles. You’ll get to see views of autumn-colored mountains all around you as well as become immersed in all sorts of fall foliage all along the road. There are lots of spots where you can stop and get out of your car to breathe in the crisp fall air and admire the scenery. Along this scenic drive you will also come across historic sites and plenty of hiking trails that you can explore on foot.

3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

fall foliage along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is another one of the popular fall scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. This scenic drive is easily accessible from downtown Gatlinburg and follows along a mountain stream. This one-way loop road is roughly 5.5 miles long. You’ll be surrounded by fall colors all around you throughout the drive, and you’ll enjoy great views of the river and even a few waterfalls next to the trail. You will also pass by a number of historic buildings as well as hiking trailheads that offer more ways to explore the beauty and history of the Smokies.

4. Blue Ridge Parkway

Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway is a relaxing fall scenic drive that provides amazing views of the mountain landscape covered in fall foliage. The total length of the Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles. The road travels from the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park up to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. However, there are lots of places to access and exit this scenic drive from federal and state highways, so you can choose how much of the Blue Ridge Parkway you want to explore.

5. Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway in fall

Foothills Parkway is one of the most beautiful fall scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. The first stretch of Foothills Parkway was completed in 1968, and the next portion, known as the Missing Link, was completed in 2018. The Foothills Parkway now covers a total of 33 miles that you can explore to see some of the best views of the mountains and fall foliage from the comfort of your car. There are many overlooks where you can pull off to take in the vibrant fall colors while breathing in the fresh mountain air.

Learn More About Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains

There are few things more beautiful than the Smoky Mountains in the fall. If you want to know more about when you can expect to see fall colors in various locations throughout the national park, check out this guide to Smoky Mountain fall foliage so you can enjoy all that fall has to offer!