Newfound Gap Road is the busiest road in the park by far, with more than a million vehicles making the 16-mi climb from 2,000-foot elevation near Cherokee to almost a mile high at Newfound Gap (and then down to Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side). It's the only road that goes all the way through the center of the park, and the only fully paved road through the park. While it's not a route to escape from the crowds, the scenery is memorable, perhaps more so on the Tennessee
than on the North Carolina side. If you don't have time to explore the back roads or to go hiking, Newfound Gap Road will give you a flavor of the richness and variety of the Smokies. Unlike other roads in the park, Newfound Gap Road has mile markers; however, the markers run "backwards" (as far as North Carolinians are concerned), starting at 0 at the park boundary near Gatlinburg to 31.1 at the border of the park at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee. Among the sites on the road are Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum (MM 30.3); Mingus Mill (MM 29.9); Smokemont Campground and Nature Trail (MM 27.2); Web Overlook (MM 17.7), from which there's a good view almost due west of Clingmans Dome; and Newfound Gap (MM 14.7), the start of the 7-mi road to Clingmans Dome. The speed limit on Newfound Gap Road is 45 mph, and less in some places.
Newfound Gap Rd. (US Hwy. 441), Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, USA
865-436-1200-park information line