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cades cove in winter covered in snow

5 Must-See Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives in Winter

DATE : January 5, 2023

While winter is considered the slow season for the Great Smoky Mountains, people still come from all over the world to see their beauty. A popular way to take in the mountain views and explore the area is to take a drive. Although there are several popular roads that close during winter, there are still plenty you’ll want to explore! Check out these 5 must-see Smoky Mountain scenic drives in winter:

Important Note: Roads are subject to closing if inclement weather occurs. Keep up with closures on the Smoky Mountain Road Closures Twitter page.

1. Cades Cove

cades cove smoky mountain scenic drive in the winterThe most popular scenic drive in the Smokies is Cades Cove Loop Road. This 11-mile loop is full of places to stop and explore, like John Oliver Cabin and the working grist mill. You may see wildlife out and about as you drive around, and this is a great area for photography or just taking in the incredible scenery. Cades Cove is especially beautiful when it snows, so this is a drive you don’t want to miss!

2. Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road is a Smoky Mountain scenic drive you definitely can’t miss while you’re in town. This road connects Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. It offers a little bit of everything the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for, from hiking trails to views. There are several overlooks where you can park to take in the views, or you can stop and travel on one of the many hiking trails.

3. Little River Road

little river road in the winterLittle River Road isn’t always at the top of people’s list for scenic drives even though it’s a road millions of people take to get to a certain destination in the park. This road travels from Gatlinburg to Townsend, and there are several spots of interest along the way, including The Sinks, Cades Cove, and Meigs Falls.

4. Wears Valley

Another hidden gem drive you’ll want to explore this winter is Wears Valley. It travels from Pigeon Forge to Townsend, and the ride feels more like a scenic back road than a mountain drive. But it’s beautiful in its own right, with local homes, businesses, and gorgeous views all along the way!

5. Foothills Parkway

foothills parkway in the winter with snowOne Smoky Mountain scenic drive you’ll want to experience is the Foothills Parkway. It’s a pretty unique drive because the road isn’t fully complete. Approved to be constructed decades ago, this road has been completed in phases, and the middle section connecting the two ends has yet to be made. Both ends of the road provide travelers with breathtaking views, and there are plenty of places to stop and take it all in, as well as stretch your legs!

Scenic Drives that are Closed in Winter

Since it is winter, there are a handful of Smoky Mountain scenic drives that are closed. They include:

  • Clingmans Dome Road
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Parson Branch Road
  • Rich Mountain Road

Winter is just as beautiful as the rest of the year in the Smoky Mountains, and there’s no better way to see it than out on the road. Now you know which Smoky Mountain scenic drives you should take during this time of year. Since you have part of your trip planned, you need to finish the rest! If you need a place to stay, check out our Gatlinburg hotel rooms, and pick one out for your winter getaway!