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Smoky Mountain Driving Tours


Balsam Mountain Road
Cades Cove Loop Road
Cataloochee Valley
Foothills Parkway East
Heintooga Bottom Road
Parson Branch Road
Rich Mountain Road
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

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Cherokee Orchard Road
One Way Mileage: 3.5 miles
Driving Time: 15 minutes
Location: Roaring Fork, Gatlinburg
Road Condition: 2-way paved road

Cherokee Orchard Road is a short beautiful drive with lush forestry and scenic mountain vistas.

From Gatlinburg Historic Nature Trail bear to the right when the road forks.

Foothills Parkway West
One Way Mileage: 18 miles
Driving Time: 30 minutes
Location: Hwy 321 to Hwy 129, Walland, TN
Road Condition: 2-way paved road

Foothills Parkway West offers great views of the mountains and valleys of Blount County. There is an overlook which is great for photographers.

From Walland (just outside Townsend, TN), take Foothills Parkway West (you will see a large sign for the Parkway).

Heintooga Ridge
One Way Mileage: 6 miles
Driving Time: 60 minutes
Location: Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway between Cherokee and Maggie Valley, NC
Road Condition: 2-way paved road

Frequent overlooks provide sweeping mountain vistas, and roadsides provide some of the best displays of summer wildflowers in the Smokies.

To reach the Heintooga Ridge/Balsam Mountain area you must leave Great Smoky Mountains National Park briefly and drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway begins midway between Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Cherokee, NC Exit the parkway near milepost 458 at the turnoff to Balsam Mountain Campground. You will follow the mile-high Heintooga Ridge Road for eight miles to Balsam Mountain Campground (5,310').

Heintooga-Roundbottom Road
One Way Mileage: 6 miles
Driving Time: 60 minutes
Location: Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway between Cherokee and Maggie Valley, NC
Road Condition: 2-way paved road

Heintooga-Roundbottom Road is a driving trail that descends from the high altitudes of the Balsams down into the coves of Roundbottom and Cherokee. Heintooga-Roundbottom Road is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Cherokee entrance of the Park. Continue all the way up to the mountaintop and make a left turn at the Balsam Mountain Campground sign and continue until the paved road dead ends just beyond the campground. This is a one-way road so once you start there is no turning back. The first fourteen miles are bumpy, winding, and sometimes steep. When you come out of the woods, it looks like the road dead ends into the water. Actually, you drive right through the water on a concrete ford. Park here, take your shoes off, and enjoy the cool mountain water! From this point it's a two way gravel road back to Cherokee. When you dead end into Big Cove Road take a left turn to go to Cherokee!

Lakeview Drive
One Way Mileage: 6 miles
Driving Time: 20 minutes
Location: Bryson City, NC
Road Condition: 2-way dead end

It provides spectacular views of Fontana Lake and the Appalachian Mountains and was originally named "Lakeview Drive." However, since the road was never completed (as the government promised) residents who were forced to leave their homes in order for Fontana Dam to be built gave it the name of "The Road To Nowhere." This road was originally to be built to provide the many residents who gave up their land for the Fontana Dam project access to their ancestral gravesites.

Directions: Take the Bryson City Exit 67 off US 74, come down the hill, at the first red light make a right, at the second red light make a left, go straight through the third red light, over the railroad tracks and straight up the hill to the Swain County High School (high school will be 1-2 miles on your left from the red light). About 1-2 miles past Swain County High School you will see the sign on the left side on a bank that says this is the Road to Nowhere. Immediately after you will enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


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