Newfound Gap Road is the lowest drivable pass in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This 31 mile entirely paved road is the only road that cuts directly through the parks center. Traveling from Gatlinburg and past Sugarlands Visitor Center, you will climb over 3,000 feet to the actual pass called Newfound Gap. At an elevation of 5,046 feet it qualifies as one of the main focal points in the park, but its important status goes well beyond just the elevation.
This is exactly where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood to dedicate the Great Smoky Mountains as a National Park in 1940.
The Appalachian Trail crosses over Newfound Gap Road right at the pass and straddles the state line for most of the way through the park.
Because of the extreme elevation, temperatures will be much cooler. So, when the leaves start turning to gold, orange and red a jacket will be your best friend. The sights and smells along this road will keep you engaged and the drive is not complicated or demanding. The forest regions will vary from various hardwoods to pine and spruce fir. There are many points of interest and several absolutely unbelievable scenic overlooks, including Campbell Overlook, where you will catch a gorgeous view of Mount LeConte. Access to the road to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park at 6,643 feet, is just a short distance from Newfound Gap.
As the road descends back down that 3,000 feet into North Carolina, the final stop on Newfound Gap Road is the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Mountain Farm Museum and Cherokee, NC. There are many special demonstrations and presentations that showcase Cherokee culture and life in traditional Appalachia. The single most special and unique sight will be the herds of elk that gather in the fields near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The sound of a bull elk’s bellow brings thoughts of the deepest wilderness areas and is not soon forgotten.
Come visit and explore the beauty and lifestyle of East Tennessee.
Excited about the area and want more information, visit knoxville-tn.com or call 800-747-0713.