Best Newfound Gap Road Trip Itinerary – Newfound Gap Scenic Drive, Trails, Campgrounds

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A Newfound Gap road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the United States. The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as “America’s Favorite Drive” due to its stunning views, serene nature, and rich history. So, let’s read about the best scenic stopovers, trails, things to do, where to stay, and valuable tips during the Newfound Gap road trip (Newfound Gap scenic drive).

ALSO READ: 12 Scenic Drives In Great Smoky Mountains (With Maps + Stopovers)

Newfound Gap Road Trip Itinerary - Newfound Gap Scenic drive

Newfound Gap Road Trip Itinerary – Newfound Gap scenic drive

Here’s a detailed itinerary for a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, also known as the Newfound Gap Road:

Newfound Gap Toad Trip Overview:

  • Starting Point: Cherokee, North Carolina
  • Ending Point: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • Total Distance: Approximately 60 miles (96.5 kilometers)
  • Duration: 1-2 days (depends on the pace and number of stops)

Day 1: Cherokee, NC to Newfound Gap (Milepost 469.1)

Scenic Drives In Great Smoky Mountains

  • Start your trip in Cherokee, NC, and enter the Blue Ridge Parkway. Grab a map at the Visitor Center.
  • Stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and explore the Mountain Farm Museum.
  • Drive to Clingmans Dome (Milepost 469.1), the highest point on the parkway. Hike the short but steep trail to the observation tower.
  • Enjoy the views, and maybe a picnic at the Newfound Gap overlook. There’s a Visitor Center here too.
  • If time allows, hike to Andrews Bald (3.6 miles round trip).

Day 2: Newfound Gap to Gatlinburg, TN

  • Continue along the parkway, enjoying the scenic drive and overlooks.
  • Stop at Morton Overlook for breathtaking panoramic views (Milepost 418.8).
  • Visit the Rockefeller Memorial to learn about the parkway’s history.
  • Explore the Alum Cave Trail (5.5 miles round trip) if you’re up for a hike.
  • Drive through the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, famous for its lush forest and waterfalls.
  • End your journey in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Best spots to find fall foliage on Newfound Gap road

Finding the best spots for fall foliage along Newfound Gap Road can be a breathtaking experience, especially during the peak of autumn when the landscape transforms into a vivid palette of reds, yellows, and oranges. Here are some of the best spots to capture the beauty of fall foliage along this scenic route:

  • Clingmans Dome: As the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Clingmans Dome offers unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The combination of spruce-fir forests and deciduous trees, like sugar maples, make this area a prime spot for capturing the vibrant fall colors.  Smoky Mountain Instagram Captions - newfound gap road - newfound gap scenic drive
  • Newfound Gap Overlook: Located at Milepost 0.0, you’ll often find the first signs of fall foliage. The overlook provides a stunning view of the Smoky Mountains, and the mix of hardwoods and evergreens creates a striking contrast during the fall season.
  • Morton Overlook: Situated at Milepost 418.8, this overlook offers an unobstructed view of the Smokies and is an ideal place to witness the colors of autumn. The surrounding slopes are dotted with various deciduous trees that turn brilliant shades of red and gold.
  • Alum Cave Trail: This hiking trail offers a beautiful path through the woods and leads to Alum Cave Bluffs, a unique spot to see fall foliage in a more intimate setting. The vibrant colors of the leaves contrast with the rocky backdrop.
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: While not directly on Newfound Gap Road, this one-way loop is accessed from Gatlinburg and provides stunning fall foliage experiences. The dense forest canopy, cascading streams, and historic buildings add to the charm of this spot during autumn.  newfound gap road - newfound gap scenic drive
  • Laurel Falls Trail: Located near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this is a relatively easy hike leading to a picturesque waterfall. The trail is lined with various tree species, offering diverse colors during fall.
  • Oconaluftee River Trail: Near Cherokee, this trail runs along the Oconaluftee River and provides a delightful experience for capturing the reflection of colorful leaves in the water. The mix of hardwoods, like poplars and maples, creates a vibrant scene.
  • Andrews Bald: For a more extensive hiking experience, the trail to Andrews Bald starts from Newfound Gap. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views and the sight of rhododendrons and flame azaleas complementing the fall foliage.
  • Waterrock Knob: Located at Milepost 451.2, this spot offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. The foliage along the slopes leading up to the overlook is incredibly captivating in the fall.
  • Indian Gap: Positioned at Milepost 218.2, this spot offers beautiful scenery with hardwood trees, including oak and hickory, contributing to the fall color palette. It’s a less-visited area, which can make it feel more serene.

newfound gap road - newfound gap scenic drive

Remember that the timing of your visit is crucial, as the peak of fall foliage can vary from year to year and typically falls between late September and early November. Be prepared for cooler temperatures, and remember to pack a camera to capture the breathtaking autumn beauty along Newfound Gap Road.

Mid-budget hotels – New Found Gap road trip

When embarking on a road trip along Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll find a range of mid-budget hotel options in nearby towns like Cherokee, North Carolina, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. These hotels provide comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank. Here are some mid-budget hotel options for your stay:

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Cherokee, North Carolina:

  1. Quality Inn Cherokee: This hotel is near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance.
  2. Holiday Inn Express Cherokee/Casino: This modern hotel is within easy reach of attractions like Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and the Oconaluftee Indian Village.
  3. Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Cherokee Smoky Mountains: A reasonably priced option is near the heart of Cherokee and just a short drive from Newfound Gap Road.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee:

  1. Sidney James Mountain Lodge: A budget-friendly lodge in Gatlinburg offering basic yet comfortable accommodations and easy access to downtown Gatlinburg and the entrance to Newfound Gap Road.
  2. River Edge Inn: Located along the Little Pigeon River, this hotel offers affordable rooms with balconies overlooking the river, close to the main attractions in Gatlinburg.
  3. Bearskin Lodge on the River: This lodge combines rustic charm with modern amenities and is conveniently situated in downtown Gatlinburg, close to shops and restaurants.

When booking, remember to check for seasonal rates, special offers, and package deals to maximize your budget. Also, consider the location that suits your itinerary best, whether closer to the Newfound Gap Road entrance or the heart of Gatlinburg or Cherokee. 

Campgrounds on Newfound Gap Scenic Drive

Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers several campgrounds where you can enjoy the beauty of the park and its surroundings. Here are some of the best campgrounds on or near Newfound Gap Road:

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  • Smokemont Campground: Located just off Newfound Gap Road near Cherokee, North Carolina, Smokemont Campground offers a serene setting along the Oconaluftee River. 
  • Cades Cove Campground: While not directly on Newfound Gap Road, Cades Campground is easily accessible via Laurel Creek Road. It’s one of the most popular campgrounds in the park, situated in the picturesque Cades Cove valley. 
  • Elkmont Campground: Located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Elkmont Campground is close from the Newfound Gap Road area. It’s a historic campground popular for its proximity to hiking trails and the lovely Little River. 
  • Deep Creek Campground: Located near Bryson City, North Carolina, Deep Creek Campground is a peaceful spot with a relaxed atmosphere. It’s known for its proximity to Deep Creek, perfect for tubing and hiking. This campground is an ideal choice for campers looking for a quieter experience.
  • Abrams Creek Campground: Situated in a more secluded area near Cades Cove, this campground is an excellent choice for those seeking solitude. It’s a more primitive campground with limited amenities, making it ideal for a rustic camping experience.
  • Look Rock Campground: While not directly on Newfound Gap Road, Look Rock Campground is situated on the Foothills Parkway West, which is nearby. This smaller, lesser-known campground offers a peaceful setting and easy access to beautiful overlooks.
  • Cosby Campground: Located in the Cosby area of the park, Cosby Campground is nestled in a quiet, less-visited part of the park. It has excellent access to the Cosby Nature Trail.

Remember that campgrounds within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can get busy, especially during peak seasons. Make reservations in advance if possible. Also, be prepared for varying amenities at different campgrounds, as some are more primitive than others. Enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains while camping in these lovely locations along or near Newfound Gap Road.

Useful Tips – Newfound Gap scenic drive

  • Timing: The best time to visit is during the fall (September to early November) for the vibrant foliage or in the spring (late April to early June) for wildflower blooms.  East Coast trips in fall - fall colors east coast
  • Weather: Check the weather forecast and road conditions before setting out, as weather can affect the parkway, especially in winter.
  • Gas: Fill up your gas tank before starting the journey, as there are limited gas stations along the route. 
  • Cell Service: Be prepared for limited cell service in some areas. Carry a paper map or GPS device.
  • Lodging: Make accommodation reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Picnic Supplies: Pack a cooler with snacks and drinks, as there are many picnic areas along the route.
  • Hiking: If you’re a hiking enthusiast, there are numerous hiking trails along the parkway. Wear appropriate footwear and carry essentials like water, a map, and a first aid kit.
  • Wildlife: Watch for wildlife, especially in the early morning or late evening. Bears, deer, and various bird species are commonly seen.
  • Photography: Remember your camera. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a photographer’s dream, especially during sunrise and sunset.
  • Historical Sites: Various historical sites and interpretive exhibits are along the parkway. Take the time to learn about the cultural and natural history of the region.
  • Safety: Follow parkway rules, stay on designated paths, and respect the natural environment. Also, be prepared for changing weather conditions, as it can get cooler at higher elevations.

This Newfound Gap road trip itinerary or Newfound Gap scenic drive will allow you to experience the Blue Ridge Parkway’s natural beauty and cultural richness while ensuring you get all the must-see stops. 

Enjoy your trip along Newfound Gap Road Smoky Mountains trip!

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