There is nothing quite like coming up over the crest of a ridge or around a corner to find an expansive view of the mountains beyond. The Smokies are full of such views and even after seeing them countless times, many still leave me with a moment of awe. You know what I mean – layers of mountains arrayed in blues, mingled with clouds, sunny skies or offering a wonderful sunset. Regardless of the time of year, they offer something special. So let’s talk about ‘em!

I’ve chosen three such views to focus on but before digging in let’s list a few that may seem familiar and are worth consideration. BTW, all of the locations are available in SmokiesTravelHub by name and their tabs provide descriptions, details and mapping to each destination.

  • Gatlinburg Overlook #1 – Gatlinburg Bypass
  • Gatlinburg Overlook #2 – Gatlinburg Bypass (I prefer this spot, of the two)
  • Rich Mountain Road-Cades Cove – coming one way out of Cades Cove this overlook is by far the best view of the Cove
  • Look Rock and the left sided pull-offs leading up to it
  • Newfound Gap and pull-offs on the way up the mountain

Jake’s Top 3

Foothills Parkway – Cosby

The least visited of all of the overlooks in the Smokies, this overlook is rarely busy and almost always satisfying, occasional fog can be a challenge. Likely traveling east on Hwy 321 the drive, is 22.3 miles from downtown Gatlinburg passing by Pittman Center, Greenbrier and part of Cosby on the way. Up for a drive to the more rural side of the area, add this one to your list. And if you’re headed to NC, be sure to take this shortcut.

Foothills Parkway – Townsend

This newest edition has taken some 20 years to complete and offers several spectacular views with the best one overlooking Townsend and Dry Valley and the mountains beyond. What a great drive! Love it! Our son asks to take this drive often and is an absolute delight at anytime of the day. Our favorite time is just before sunset as the sun sets to the far right of the expanse and casts shadows right to left across the panorama. The sun may not be within view depending on the time of year but wow, what a view.

Clingman’s Dome

Of course, the all time favorite overlook in the Smokies for just about everyone is this one. Just below the 6643’ crest (the highest peak in the eastern US), the parking area is where one can usually find breathtaking views. Often photographers, amateur and professional alike, are lining the sidewalk facing southward. And my favorite time for this beaut is sunrise. Yes, it requires a predawn rise and drive but has been worth it every time. Just be sure to check the weather and know that since this elevation is certifiably rainforest, rain and/or clouds can roll in anytime. And it generally stays closed from Dec 1st thru March 31st.

Thanks for checking this out and pass along ideas through the contact tab in SmokiesTravelHub.