Located on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN is home to some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the world! When you’re in town for a tournament or event at Rocky Top Sports World, you will definitely want to soak up some of Gatlinburg’s magnificent scenery with a drive through the mountains. To help you make the most of your time in Gatlinburg, we have put together a handy guide to the top five Smoky Mountain scenic drives.
1. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is one of the most beautiful and convenient scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. This 5.5-mile long, one-way, loop road is located just minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg off of Traffic Light #8 and Historic Nature Trail Road. Running beside a bubbling stream, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is famous for its well-preserved historic buildings, lovely mountain views, and gorgeous foliage (especially in the fall). The Roaring Fork area is also home to the trailheads for some of the national park’s most popular hikes, including the Rainbow Falls Trail and the Trillium Gap Trail (which leads to Grotto Falls).
2. Wears Valley Road
Situated off of the Pigeon Forge Parkway, Wears Valley Road is another one of our favorite Smoky Mountain scenic drives. Considered a hidden gem in the Smokies, Wears Valley is a peaceful area that boasts breathtaking mountain views and a “secret” entrance to the national park. Wears Valley Road extends for 15 miles, connecting Pigeon Forge with Townsend. If you decide to drive Wears Valley Road, we suggest stopping for a picnic at Metcalf Bottoms when you reach the national park or continuing on towards Cades Cove (the most visited section of the Smokies).
3. Little River Road
While Wears Valley Road is a great way to get to Cades Cove from Pigeon Forge, if you will be coming from Gatlinburg, we suggest taking Little River Road. Technically comprised of three different roads (Fighting Creek Gap Road, Little River Gorge Road, and Laurel Creek Road), Little River Road takes auto tourists from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Cades Cove. Spanning 25 miles, this stunning road passes by the picturesque Little River, The Sinks waterfall, and the trailhead for the Laurel Falls Trail.
4. Cades Cove Loop Road
Located 50 – 60 minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, Cades Cove is a can’t-miss destination for any trip to the Smoky Mountains. Over 2 million people come to Cades Cove each year to see the valley’s iconic historic buildings, fantastic mountain views, lush green fields, and signature wildlife. Unlike much of the national park, Cades Cove isn’t densely forested, so visitors have a better chance of spotting critters like black bears, wild turkey, and white-tailed deer. All of Cades Cove’s historic landmarks are conveniently located along an 11-mile, one-way, loop road.
5. Newfound Gap Road
Running for 31 miles between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, NC, Newfound Gap Road is a truly epic drive that cuts through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Newfound Gap Road is notable for its spectacular mountain views and for having a variety of forest ecosystems. In fact, it has been said that driving along Newfound Gap Road is like taking a trip from Georgia to Maine in terms of all the different trees you’ll see! Highlights along Newfound Gap Road include Newfound Gap (the lowest drivable pass through the national park), Campbell Overlook, and the Rockefeller Memorial (where President Roosevelt officially dedicated the park in 1940).
About Rocky Top Sports World
Situated minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, Rocky Top Sports World is one of the very best tournament destinations in the U.S. With seven fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, and team rooms, our 80-acre athletic campus has everything you need for an incredible sports event. To see a list of our upcoming tournaments, browse the Rocky Top Sports World Events Calendar!