Newfound Gap Road is a scenic drive that is a must during your visit to the Smoky Mountains. Plan to spend some time and pack a camera as there is plenty to see along the trip.
Known as the lowest drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap Road has an elevation of 5,046 feet. Close to a mile high, it is significantly cooler than the lowlands. Sometimes the temperature is cooler by 10 degrees or more.
Newfound Gap’s recognition as the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains happened in the year 1872. A swiss geographer named Arnold Henry Guyot, measured many Southern Appalachian elevations during his time. Mount Guyot, the second highest peak in the Smokies, is named after him.
It was through his work that Newfound Gap was identified as the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains.
As you drive over Newfound Gap Road be prepared for climb of approximately 3,000 feet. The scenery has been compared to making a drive from Georgia to Maine in terms of diverse ecosystems.
Newfound Gap Highlights
When you reach the top you have many choices. Hiking, photography and history are just some of the things to keep you busy. In addition, you may just choose to relax kick back and enjoy the scenery.
– There are splendid Scenic views from the parking area. A great spot for those who love to take pictures.
– Rockefeller Memorial is quite a sight and honors a $5 million donation from the Rockefeller Foundation. The donation helped complete land acquisitions to bring about the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
– The Appalachian Trail can be found here as it crosses over Newfound Gap Road and hovers over the state lines between North Carolina and Tennessee through most of the park.
Just a short 7 mile trip from The Gap is Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Smokies and provides breathtaking views.
Some Things To Do On Your Drive
Mountain Farm Museum, Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mingus Mill
Explore historic farm buildings in an open-air museum and take in the history.
Mingus Mill, a historic grist mill dating from 1886.
Bring your hiking shoes and water for this one. One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. With an elevation of 4,800 ft. All uphill with 1,700 ft.
This hike is (4 miles round-trip, strenuous)
Mt. LeConte & Alum Cave
The Alum Cave Trail is the most-hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll see why, with interesting geological features and stunning views. To reach the 6,593-ft. summit of Mount LeConte (third highest peak in the Smokies), you’ll climb 2,853 ft. in elevation in 5.5 miles.
This hike is 11 miles round-trip, strenuous
The overlook is named for Carlos Campbell, who wrote Birth of A National Park.
In addition, Campbell was a avid outdoors-man and strong supporter for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The drive is very enjoyable and gives you a glimpse of the park diversity on a short trek. Newfound Gap is also the only fully paved road in The Smoky Mountains that travels through the center of the park.
From Newfound Gap Road you can visit Cherokee, Gatlinburg or Newfound Gap. No matter which destination you choose there are plenty of great options.
With so many fun things to do on your family vacation make sure to plan a trip to Newfound Gap. Above all, It is an experience that you won’t want to miss. Pack lunch, bring a camera and share your travel photos with us on our Facebook page. The Highland Manor Inn hotel is the best choice for your Smoky Mountain Vacation.