clingmans dome observation tower
June 29, 2023

There is nothing like starting your morning in the Smokies with the sight of a beautiful sunrise, and you’ll find several fantastic locations to watch the gorgeous scenery unfold! Since Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, you can arrive as early as you want to access the best views in the park! Here are the top 5 places to see a sunrise in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Clingmans Dome

It probably comes as no surprise that Clingmans Dome is one of the best sunrise (and sunset) viewing locations due to it being the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The peak rises to a height of 6,643 feet and the observation tower offers a spectacular place to be in the morning, so be sure to get there early and allow time to make the short, steep walk from the parking lot. Once the sun rises, you can see over 100 miles on a clear day in the Smokies!

2. Newfound Gap Parking Area

Newfound Gap Overlook

Another one of the top places to see a sunrise in the Smoky Mountains is the Newfound Gap Parking Area, situated around the midpoint of Newfound Gap Road. This is an excellent option for those who may not be able to hike, and you can even watch the sunrise from the comfort of your car! While visiting the parking area, take advantage of the opportunity to stand in two states at once because the lot straddles both Tennessee and North Carolina!

3. Little River Road

When it comes to the top places to see a sunrise in the Smoky Mountains, Little River Road makes a fantastic option! This pleasant road connects Gatlinburg and Cades Cove, starting at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and following along the Little River. There are plenty of pull outs along the road between Laurel Falls and the visitor center that are prime locations for watching the sunrise!

4. Foothills Parkway

wears valley sunrise

The Foothills Parkway offers numerous overlooks where you can watch the sunrise in the Smoky Mountains, so pick one that is most convenient for you! Some of the outlooks that you’ll find along the road include the Gregory Bald Overlook, Parson Bald Overlook, Chilhowee Mountain Overlook and the Emerine Gap Overlook. You also won’t want to miss Look Rock, the tallest point on the Foothills Parkway that features an amazing overlook and restroom facilities!

5. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook

If you’re staying in downtown Gatlinburg, you won’t have to travel far at all to find a great spot for the sunrise! Just head up to the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook, which is located on the Gatlinburg bypass that connects the Gatlinburg Spur and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While you’re up there, you’ll also get to enjoy bird’s eye views of the entire City of Gatlinburg!

Now that you know the top places to see a sunrise in the Smoky Mountains, you can prepare for a beautiful start to your morning in the Smokies! However, if you’re not an early riser, you may prefer some of the best places to see a sunset in the Smoky Mountains!