If you are not wanting to hike, how do you get out and see the Smokies? Jump in your car and enjoy one of the many auto tours through the indescribable beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
The auto tours in the Smokies are second to none. Trips through areas that were the home of those that came before the founding of the National Park are kept to demonstrate the way of life of those that called the Smokies home. Due to the number of visitors to these areas, the wildlife has gotten used to seeing people. This familiarity with visitors into their world allows you to get closer to the wildlife then other place in the park.
Newfound Gap Road – This is the main artery through the Smokies. It allows people to travel over the top of the mountain from Gatlinburg to Cherokee or vice versa. Along this road are countless trails and scenic walkways that get the driver out of the car and looking at the scenery more closely. The drive is very steep at times but the Park Service has included many pull offs to let traffic flow easily.
Cades Cove – Cades Cove is the most famous and popular auto tour in the Smokies. This former community has been left as a testament to the culture of the people that lived in the Smokies before the National Park was established. Some of the buildings have been preserved or recreated to give the area the fill that it had in the days before the park. This 11 mile loop road is traversed by millions throughout the year. Beautiful whatever time of year you visit, Cades Cove brings the flora and the fauna of the Smokies right to your car.
Roaring Fork Motor Trail – This trail starts in Gatlinburg. Located right off Historic Nature Trail Road, the Roaring Fork area is the mountain community to the valley communities of Cades Cove and Cataloochee. This mountain village supplied lumber, milled corn and countless other items to the people of Gatlinburg along with having its own subsistence farming. The waterfalls and hiking trails are only part of the reason to take in Roaring Fork Motor Trail.
Cataloochee – This is the North Carolina version of Cades Cove. Cataloochee has buildings and structure that run from the log cabin style to almost Victorian. Beautiful structures dot the landscape and of course, bear and deer make the scene. In the early 2000s, the National Park service reintroduced elk to the Cataloochee area and this is now one of the primary places to see elk in the National Park.