12 Best Views in the Smoky Mountains (with Pictures)

Gatlinburg, Tennessee attracts millions of visitors every year, and one of the biggest draws is the national park it holds. The Smoky Mountains National Park has scenic views and over 800 miles of hiking trails. People from all over visit the mountains throughout the year, and each season comes with its own unique views. Through forests, summits, trails, and more, this National Park has something for everyone.

If you decide to explore the Smokies on your next trip to Gatlinburg, then there are a few views you won’t want to miss out on. These are some of the best spots in the park with some of the most breathtaking scenic landscapes.

Best views in the Smoky Mountains

1. Clingman’s Dome

Image by Sam Jotham Sutharson from Pixabay

Clingman’s Dome is on one of the highest mountains in the Smoky Mountains National Park, and only requires about half a mile of hiking. Despite the short distance, there are several beautiful views to enjoy at the observation tower. It’s one of the top places for tourists to capture pictures.

While the observation tower is the main appeal of Clingman’s Dome, there’s also a lot to enjoy on the road there. The hike to the tower is only a mile long, but the mountain is pretty steep, which can make the trek difficult.

2. Cades Cove

view from the loop at Cade’s Cove

Cades Coves just might be the most popular spot in all of the Smoky Mountains. It’s one of the best places for visitors to catch a glimpse of wildlife, and most mornings you can find a peaceful mist settled across the landscape. Cades Cove also has preserved buildings from the pioneer history of the National Park. There’s an eleven mile loop road that is also bike and walked friendly. Since it’s the most popular, expect for it to be the most crowded too.

3. Alum Cave Trail

alum cave trail | image: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The five-mile hike down Alum Cave Trail has some of the best mountain views in the park. There are several geological features that tourists can see along the trail, including Arch Rock. Alum Cave is around 2.5 miles down the trail, and is where some of the best views can be found.

4. Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney tops in the Smoky Mountains | image: Thomson20192

The hike to the top of Chimney Tops Trail is relatively short, reaching just under two miles, but it’s considered difficult. This is mostly due to the high elevation gain, 1,400 feet. In 2016, wildfires damaged a lot of the trail and today there is a new vantage point for tourists to stop at. It still offers some of the some beautiful views of the Smokies.

5. Newfound Gap Road

View from Newfound Gap Road | image by Ken Lund via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

In mountain ranges, there are gaps or passes that allow easier ways to get through the mountain, and that’s what Newfound Gap in the Smokies acts as. This gap is the lowest drivable pass over the mountains. The name came after a surveyor found it was the lowest pass in the park, so Newfound Gap replaced the previous owner of the title.

The road is 33 miles long, stretching from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. Newfound Gap is situated at the midpoint of the road, around 14.7 miles. There are several scenic overlooks along the road that drivers can pull over at, and several hiking trails.

6. Foothills Parkway

Foothills parkway Gatlinburg | image: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Foothills Parkway offers some more driving views of the mountain landscape, with a few places to stop at overlooks or trails. The road has been under construction for years now, with over thirty miles still left to complete. In addition to the overlooks, Foothills Parkway has some of the best places to stop for family picnics.

7. Andrews Bald

Andrews bald | image: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This scenic spot can be found near Clingmans Dome, and it doesn’t take much of a hike to reach it. This means Andrews Bald has some of the most accessible, yet beautiful views in the Smokies. There’s a flat top meadow full of flowers, and several additional trails nearby.

8. Mt. Cammerer

Mt. Cammerer | image by Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Mount Cammerer is one of the highest points in the entire park. It runs along the Appalachian trail, and offers views that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the Smokies. The high elevation and length of the trail make it a rough hike for some people, and it’s always best to give yourself enough time to make it back before dark.

9. Mt. LeConte

Mt Leconte view

Mount LeConte is another spot in the Smoky Mountains National Park that takes quite a long hike to reach. It’s eleven miles round trip with five trails, and not for the inexperienced hiker. The 2700 foot elevation offers a unique vista, Alum Cave, and views that rival those of Mount Cammerer. It’s the third highest point in the entire park, with several trails offering paths to the top. Alum Cave Trail, which is just over five miles long, is the most popular option.

10. Laurel Falls

Laurel falls in Gatlinburg Smoky Mountains | image by pulaw via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Laurel Falls is an 80 foot tall waterfall named for the very mountain it cuts through. The trail to reach the falls is only 2.6 miles long and typically takes two hours round trip. While it isn’t a long hike, the terrain can be moderately difficult.

11. Grotto Falls

Grotto falls | image: Mark Steele via Flickr

Grotto Falls calls for another 2.6 mile hike, but this one is a lot easier to manage. It’s beginner friendly with some breathtaking views of the waterfalls waiting at the end. Most of the hike is on Trillium Gap Trail, which tends to be comfortable and shaded. The falls themselves are 25 feet tall, with the trail allowing visitors to walk behind them.

12. Gregory Bald

Gregory Bald Smoky Mountains | image by Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

The peak of Gregory Bald receives the most attention during the early summer season. During this time different colored flame azaleas cover the summit. Both Cades Cove and Fontana Lake can be seen from the top of the peak. Even in the off seasons, visitors can still hike up to Gregory Bald to enjoy the scenic views.

Things to know before you visit

Even if you know what spots you want to visit in the Smoky Mountains National Park, there are still steps you should take before your visit. Since it can be so overwhelmingly crowded, you should make sure you plan accordingly. Even if you plan to deal with the crowds, you should still know when peak times are and how long you’re willing to wait in line.


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