There’s no shortage of scenic views in Gatlinburg
Words by Ashley Locke
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Gatlinburg has a pretty great story to tell. The Smoky Mountain town is stunningly scenic in photos, but a polaroid doesn’t hold a candle to what you witness in person. Crimson, copper, and rust colored leaves peek through the hazy, lingering fog. From afar, it’s like a Monet—flecks of fall foliage sprinkled across the mountains—but as you get closer, the details come into focus. Yellow Poplars, Mountain Silverbells, White Ash, and American Beech trees line the horizon. There’s color in every direction you look. You’re going to need a few days to take it all in.
You can access some of Gatlinburg’s best views without ever leaving the beaten path. Roll down your windows to let the mountain air in, and let the road take you away. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is 5.5 miles one way, past fall foliage, log cabins, and waterfalls. One roadside waterfall—the Place of a Thousand Drips—is a cluster of mini falls that weave together to form an eye-catching scene. If you want to stretch your legs, Two famous waterfalls are a hike away. Rainbow Falls, which gets its name from the rainbow it casts when the sun hits just right, is just over five miles round trip. Grotto Falls is a favorite of locals and tourists, and for good reason. It’s the only waterfall in the Smokies that you can walk behind.
The Gatlinburg Bypass is home to the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. It’s a unique view—not only can you see Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you also get an incomparable view of Downtown Gatlinburg. Get a front seat view to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Newfound Gap Road—one of the three park entrances. There’s easy access from Downtown Gatlinburg—the city landscape transforms into a dense forest as you rise in elevation. One of the most coveted stops on the 3,000 foot climb is Morton’s Overlook. Layers of trees, peaks, and ridges stack to create one of the area’s most scenic views.
The highest point in Gatlinburg also offers 360º views of downtown and the surrounding mountains. AnaVista Tower at Anakeesta is arguably the best viewpoint in the city. Visit the tower from September 23 through October 31, and you’ll also get to experience Autumn at Anakeesta—the backdrop of fall foliage is complemented by seasonal food and drink and live entertainment.
Gatlinburg is also home to a famous landmark. The Gatlinburg Skybridge is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. The bridge, which spans more than 700 feet across a mountain ravine, has a glass bottom in the center so that you can see down below. Autumn Adventures at the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park brings even more fun to your skybridge stroll, with additional family friendly activities to experience.
Take the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park and experience just over two miles of beautiful city and mountain scenes. The trip—a Gatlinburg tradition—starts in downtown, lifting you up toward Mount Harrison. Upon arrival, the chairlift takes you to the mountain’s peak for a bird’s eye view. The top also features a Color Blindness Viewer—one of only three in Tennessee—that allows people experiencing all forms of colorblindness to take in the colorful experience of fall in the Smoky Mountains.
The natural beauty of Gatlinburg provides head turning views around every corner. It’s a sight to behold, and there is nothing like seeing it in person. There’s a reason it's known as the South’s best mountain town. Plan your visit at www.gatlinburg.com.