little river road in the smoky mountains
December 21, 2021

One of the best ways to explore the Smoky Mountains is going on a drive! There are several roads that can take you through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and many of them are popular drives people love! These drives are popular for a reason, but sometimes you want to experience the road less traveled! Check out these 4 undiscovered Smoky Mountain scenic drives you have to explore:

1. Gatlinburg Bypass

Many people don’t want to have to go through downtown Gatlinburg to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so they will take the Gatlinburg Bypass! This road will cut your travel time down significantly, and it’s a more scenic route to enjoy until you enter the park! You’ll see mountain views and views of the woods along the drive, and there’s even a pull off known as the Gatlinburg Overlook that boasts incredible views of the Smokies with downtown Gatlinburg. Plus, there are several hiking trailheads off of this road! You’ll definitely enjoy traveling along the Gatlinburg Bypass!

2. Little River Road

little river road in the fall

Another Smoky Mountain scenic drive you may not know about is Little River Road. This road takes visitors to almost anywhere they want to go in the national park. It twists and turns with the mountains, and you’ll be able to look out into the woods and enjoy breathtaking views along the drive. The name of the road comes from the Little Pigeon River that runs alongside the road. There are several areas where you can pull off to explore in the river, as well as get out to hike a trail or two. You also might see overlooks and a couple of waterfalls. Little River Road can take you all the way from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove in Townsend.

3. Rich Mountain Road

Most people who look for a scenic drive head to Cades Cove, a popular valley surrounded by mountains with an 11-mile paved loop that’s easy to drive. What some people may not know is there’s a hidden gem of a scenic drive off of the main loop! Rich Mountain Road is a one-way, 7-mile road that is located right after the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. You’ll have wooded views along the road, and there’s a well-known overlook off of the drive that provides an incredible view of Primitive Baptist Church in the valley below. Rich Mountain Road is a seasonally open road, and it’s typically driveable from April to November.

4. Wears Valley Road

wears valley road with barn

A truly undiscovered Smoky Mountain scenic drive you’ll want to experience is Wears Valley Road. Locals typically use this road to enter the national park or head home since several homes and businesses are located right off the road. Wears Valley Road travels from Pigeon Forge to Townsend TN, and it is 15 miles long. You’ll see beautiful views of the mountains and valleys, along with scenic farmland and mountain homes. You might want to stop at one of the local shops or restaurants you will see along the way, because you won’t find food and goodies quite like them anywhere else!

You don’t want to miss out on these undiscovered Smoky Mountain scenic drives on your next trip! Wondering what else you should do in the Smokies while you’re in town? Check out these other things to do in the Smoky Mountains!