When visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll be at a loss for what to do in this area jam packed with everything from outdoor activities to amusement parks. In fact, you’ll need a few days to make a dent in the fun that awaits you. There are many wonderful hotels or for the real experience stay in one of the many Smokey Mountain cabins. To get a lay of the land in this National Park, there are four must see views from overlooks of this beautiful national park.
Look Rock provides a grew view from the western side of the park. Look Rock is closed in the winter months. The cement platform is built on a cantilevered rock. To get an even higher look, hike a mile to Look Rock Tower for 360-degree views of the mountains.
A “gap” in Appalachia is what the locals call a low point in a mountain ridge. It’s also called a “pass” in other parts of the country. Newfound Gap is the lowest pass over the Smoky Mountains. The gap was named “Newfound Gap” when a surveyor discovered it was actually lower than the previous lowest gap. The 33-mile Newfound Gap Road dissects this national park. This famed road travels from Gatlinburg in Tennessee and rises 3,000 feet and ends in Cherokee, North Carolina. At the Newfound Gap parking lot one can stand on the state lines of both Tennessee and North Carolina.
Mount Le Conte
Locals and park rangers will recommend Mount Le Conte for the best view of the sunrise and sunset. Come early to get a good spot as many visitors to the park come here at these times. Mount Le Conte is the third highest peak in the park on the “tallest” mountain in the eastern United States. The shortest hike to the lookout is 5.5 miles along the Alum Cave Trail. From the trailhead you can reach Inspiration Point with views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge. Duck hawk is another name for peregrine falcon of this region.
From Clingmans Dome, at the top of the tower, on a clear day you can see up to 100 miles into seven states: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Clingmans Dome is the highest point along the Appalachian Trail and in Tennessee. The hike is a one-mile roundtrip, which isn’t that far to hike to get to the summit of a mountain. For this reason, many hikers continue on along the Appalachian Trail for five miles to Silers Bald which is a 5,600 foot peak with views of Fontana Lake.
Whether you’re staying in town or one of the Smokey Mountain cabins, you can get to all four of these overlooks in a short amount of time.