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Newfound Gap Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Drive across the mountains in the parks most-traveled road.
Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 29.4 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview :  In southern Appalachian vernacular, a gap is a low point in a mountain ridge. New Englanders call such places “notches” while... more »

Tips:  Newfound Gap runs from Sugerlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN, up over the mountains and down to Cherokee, NC.

Make sure you... more »

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Points of Interest

Open every day except Christmas Day.
January - February 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
March 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
April - May 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
June - August 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
September - October 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
November 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
December 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Special Programs
Ranger-led programs conducted seasonally. Check at... More

2. Campbell Overlook

This place is named in honor of Carlos Campbell,who was helped in the creation of the national park. This roadside exhibit focuses on different forest patterns in the mountains in front of you. The peak on your left is Bull Head and the far peak in the the center is Balsam Point.

Driving this road up to Newfound Gap from the lowlands is the... More

You'll find the Little Pigeon River as a rushing cascade, with its banks line with giant hemlocks and other trees, which are remnants of an old-growth forest, saved by the creation of the park. This setting is perfect for a picnic and a stroll along the nature trail.

The is named from the towering Chimney Tops, twin peaks rising abruptly beyond ... More

4. Chimney Tops Overlook

There are three overlooks that provide outstanding views of one of the best known features of the park. The twin peaks were known to the Cherokee as Duniskwal-guni (forked antlers). They cap a sheer rise of nearly 2,000 ft, one of the Smokies' steepest cliffs. The right-hand peak has a cavity in its top about 30 ft deep, the "flue" which... More

5. Cove Hardwood Roadside

Stop and enjoy the rushing river and the roadside exhibit.

In the woods across the road, big angular rocks are exposed among the trees. During the Pleistocene ice age, the huge pieces were split by frost from rock ledges higher on the slopes. Overgrown by forest and lichen-covered today, these boulder deposits are from a colder time, a period... More

6. The Loop

This is difficult engineering even now; think of the obstacles faced by road builders with hand tools. Here the mountains crowd the Little Pigeon river closely on both sides, leaving little room for a road. To provide passage, a tunnel had to be cut and the road had to make a super switchback, actually looping back atop itself in a 360 degree... More

7. Stream Exhibit

Waterways like the Little Pigeon River, and the dozens of others that course through the mountains, are important to the abundance of life in the Smokies. This roadside exhibit demonstrates that graphically.

900 billion gallons of rain fall in the Smokies each year. The park includes 28 watersheds with minimal disturbance, producing some of the... More

The Alum Cave Trail is the shortest and steepest of the five trails leading to the Le Conte massif, which contains four separate peaks in all, the highest of which has an elevation of 6,593 feet. Due to its short length and beautiful scenery (it is often considered Le Conte's most scenic route) it is the most common footpath for hikers seeking to ... More

9. View of the Landslide

Huge landslides across the valley bared the face of Anakeesta (place of the balsams) Ridge in 1975 and 1993.

10. Morton Overlook

This overlook is named in honor of Ben A. Morton, Knoxville's mayor in the 1920s and an avid supporter of the effort to create a park here. The Chimney Tops are easy to spot on your left. They, like Mt. Mingus (the highest peak on your left), are part of a long ridge called Sugarland Mountain, which runs down from the crest of the Smokies toward... More

11. Northern Hardwoods Forest

At this elevation northern hardwoods dominate. It's the type of forest you'd find, or instance, in upper New York and much of New England. Evergreen fir and spruce, which rule the higher slopes here, mix with broad-leaved hardwoods, chiefly American beech and yellow birch. This is near the upper limit of such trees as maples, black cherry, and ... More

12. Newfound Gap

Out west this would be a pass and in New England a notch. The term refers to low points that provide passage across the crests of mountains.

For many generations, until surveys proved otherwise, the Indian Gap two miles west of here was thought to be the lowest in the heart of the mountains. When this point (at 5,046 ft) was discovered to be... More

13. Clingmans Dome Road

Turn here to drive 7 miles up to the most outstanding view in the park, Clingmans Dome.

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on... More

15. Oconaluftee Valley Overlook

At this point you're perched atop Thomas Divide, a high ridge running in an arc from Deep Creek (near Bryson City) to the crest of the Smokies just above Newfound Gap Road, which follows the Oconaluftee River for most of its course up from Cherokee, climbs to the divide in a giant switchback just below, an S-curve that reverses your direction... More

16. Wilderness Exhibit

Many among the country's great natural preserves were set aside while still in their natural states. Here in the Smokies, a natural treasure that had already been populated and commercially exploited was bought back by the public and allowed to return to a wild state.

Some traces of humanity are preserved for their historic value. Such... More

17. Web Overlook

This overlook honors the memory of Asheville newspaper publisher Charles A. Webb, civic leader and conservationist whose efforts helped establish great Smoky Mountains National Park. From this point due south, you're looking down the valley of Deep Creek toward Bryson City.

You also have a good view of the park's highest peak, Clingmans Dome,... More

18. Logging Exhibit

In one sense, logging devastated the great Smokies, but the destruction of these vast old-growth forests led at last to enough public alarm to demand preservation. This exhibit tells something of the logging story the most important human factor affecting these mountains.

First effects were relatively small: clearing for farms and pastures, from... More

19. Oconalufte River

It's pronounced "oh-kon-a-LUF-tee," and the name seems almost as long as the river itself. To the Cherokee, Ekwanulti means place-by-the-river. Corrupted through generations of unfamiliar tongues, it became Oconaluftee. In local parlance the name is often abbreviated as "Lufty."

The Oconaluftee River Trail is one of two walking paths on which ... More

20. Collins Creek Picnic Area

Open March 11 - Oct. 31

182 Sites with a Pavilion that seats 70.
Closes at 8:00 PM May 1 - Aug 31; at sunset on other dates.

Pavilion can be reserved in one year in advance for $20 by calling (877)444-6777

Please remember that feeding bears and other wildlife is illegal. The black bear symbolizes the invaluable wilderness qualities of Great... More

21. Smokemont Campground & Nature Trail

You can find a link in this guide to the reservation site for this campground.

The 142-site Smokemont campground is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and approximately 6 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. The campground provides facilities for both tent and RV/trailer camping. The Bradley Fork River flows through the... More

22. Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill was built in 1886 by Sevier County, Tennessee millwright Sion Thomas Early for John Mingus, a son of John Jacob Mingus. Early completed the mill in three months for a cost of $600. The mill operated at wholesale and retail levels until the park service purchased the property in 1934. The mill was restored in 1937, but closed again... More

Oconaluftee offers both a visitor center and the Mountain Farm Museum—a collection of historic log buildings gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site.

At the visitor center, rangers can answer your questions about the park and there is a bookstore with a broad selection of guides, maps, and other products.

... More