5 Scenic Drives in East Tennessee


Too hot to hike? Enjoy the views from the air-conditioned comfort of your car.

1. US 129 — The Tail of the Dragon

The Tail of the Dragon takes you on a twisting, turning 318 curves in 11 miles that border the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Motorcyclists come from all over the world to drive it. If carsickness is an issue, this might not be your best choice!

2. Cades Cove Loop Road

Take a picturesque drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Cades Cove Loop. Over twelve miles of mountains vistas await, along with frequent wildlife spottings (don’t feed the animals, and please keep your distance!) Just don’t go on a Wednesday. That’s the day reserved for cyclists and hikers until Sept. 30.

3. Cherohala Skyway

A National Scenic Byway since 1996, the Cherohala Skyway is 42-mile-long road beginning in Tellico Plains and ending in Robbinsville, N.C. Its name combines Cherokee and Nantahala, the two national forests through which it passes.

4. Roan Mountain

The ride starts and ends at the town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee, on US 19E just 7 miles from the border with North Carolina. Follow TN 143 South into Roan Mountain State Park. The park’s natural rhododendron garden peaks in mid-June.

5. Ocoee Scenic Byway

The first-ever U.S. Forest Service scenic byway was designated in the Cherokee National Forest in Polk County. It passes through the Ocoee River Gorge and winds it way up Chilhowee Mountain, following the crest of the mountain.

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