Every fall as the leaves explode into an array of burnt oranges, crimsons, and lemony hues, people flock to the mountains to take in this natural work of art. Gatlinburg, situated just outside the Great Smoky Mountains, is a prime destination each fall, as travelers far and wide seek to vacation in the midst of the natural wonders of the autumn season. There is no better place to view the quilt of colors that folds over the mountain peaks during this time of year.
You don’t have to be an Everest Mountaineer to enjoy these colorful panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. For those seeking a more relaxed mountain stay, there are numerous overlooks that can be accessed from you cabin. For those eager to have an even sharper vantage point, several look out towers boast 360 degree panoramic views with a short walk up paved trails.
Just over 5,000 feet Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Located close to the Tennessee and North Carolina state line, this widely popular overlook offers scenes that span the breadth of the Great Smoky Mountains as they roll out into North Carolina and Tennessee. With its high elevation, Newfound Gap can be significantly cooler than the valley towns below, sometimes up to 10 degrees farenheit difference. The drive that winds up and out of Gatlinburg is picture worthy too, and some may want to stop along the way. Once a the top the breathtaking views make this mountain pass make any car trip satisfying.
Several miles past Newfound Gap, fall foliage seekers can access an even better viewpoint and visit the highest peak in the National Park. Rising to 6,643 ft, Clingman’s Dome features an observation tower for visitors to experience the 360 panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. Though a short ½ mile walk up a paved pathway to the top of the tower is required, this small hikes is well worth your trip. Visitors can walk around this large concrete tower to see the Smoky Mountains span in every direction. This tower offers incredible opportunities for photos from the tallest point in the park.
This little known bypass not only offers a short-cut around the busy traffic of downtown Gatlinburg, but it also offers spectacular views of the mountains and Gatlinburg. This 4-mile road connects New Found Gap Road within the park and US 441 just north of Gatlinburg going towards Pigeon Forge. Winding up and around this curvy bypass offers spectators will experience a Birdseye view of the town, while also taking in the surrounding mountains. Especially enchanting at night from the midpoint overlook, visitors are awed by the sparkling lights in the valley below.
Located about 10 miles from Walland, Tennessee off of Foothills Parkway (West) Look Rock observation tower offers incredible views of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Tennessee Valley, and Maryville.
Situated at the top of Chilhowee Mountain, Look Rock is a natural observation ledge overlooking the park. Visitors can walk up a short paved trail to the observation tower for a 360 panoramic view. This vantage point is a great place to capture the beautiful colors of autumn and see the Smoky Mountains from a different vantage point. On a clear day visitors will be able to see Clingman’s Dome, Gregory Balk, and Thunderhead from a distance.
If this small hike leaves you thirsting for more, a drive along the scenic Foothills Parkway offers many other favorable overlooks with fantastic views and photo opts.