Looking to enjoy some of the best views of the Smoky Mountains?
The national park hikes and overlooks provide some of the best views in the world!
Travelers from all over the world visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee to see their beauty and be inspired by their majesty.
Here is an ultimate guide to the best views in the park along with information on parking lot for each, best time to visit, and spots to see wildlife.
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Where are the Great Smoky Mountains located?
The Great Smoky Mountains are located in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina, with a small portion extending into Southwest Virginia.
The national park preserves a large portion of the Smokies and is located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.
There are many different ways that you can enjoy these iconic mountains, whether it’s hiking or seeing them from afar!
Here are some of the best views in the park for an exciting adventure.
Why are the Great Smoky Mountains called Smoky?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is named for its abundant smoky haze, which is formed due to vapors released by the abundant trees.
This haze floats upwards through the air and scatters blue light to create the iconic blue fog of the mountains which makes them appear smoky.
This dense haze covers much of eastern Tennessee’s skyline and gives the mountains its name.
Best views of Smoky Mountains inside the National Park
There are two photos of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which are most popular: one with the blue smoky haze and one with stunning fall colors.
There are several photogenic spots within the national park that are worth driving to from where you can take these scenic photos.
From a gorgeous waterfall with a peaceful overlook, to a grassy meadow surrounded by trees and wildlife, there are several breathtaking views in the Smokies!
Here are our favorite places to enjoy beautiful views in the Smoky mountains that are located close to the parkway.
Morton Overlook, also located along Newfound Gap Road, has breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This may not be the highest point in the park, but it offers beautiful views of the mountains.
The overlook is surrounded by lush greenery and trees, which are ready to burst into fall colors during peak season!
Morton Overlook is a great place for taking in the views of some of the most popular mountains within Great Smoky Mountains National Park like Clingmans Dome, Mt Collins, and Greenbriar Pinnacle.
There is a small parking area for Morton Overlook but it fills up quickly during peak season.
The views from Newfound Gap where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Parkway are also spectacular.
From Newfound Gap, you can see Mount Leconte, Mt. Collins and Mt. Kephart on a clear day.
The mountain views at Newfound Gap are some of the most easily accessible ones in the park.
The Newfound Gap is located just a few minutes from Morton Overlook and has a large parking lot.
There are several best spots for the Great Smoky Mountains national park pictures but none compare to Clingmans Dome.
Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the park.
An observation tower is located along its summit which offers panoramic 360 degree views of America’s prettiest mountains.
The 1 mile round trip Clingmans Dome trail takes visitors from the parking area to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains at 6,643 feet.
To reach the trailhead, take the Clingmans Dome road from Newfound Gap road.
The one way half mile hike has an elevation gain of over 330 feet and is short, strenuous, and worth the scenic vistas.
The observation tower itself is 45 feet high and from here you can see up to 100 miles.
From here, you can enjoy great views of the fiery fall colors on the mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from September end to mid November.
Cades Cove Loop
The 11 mile long Cades Cove Loop might not offer birds eye views that you get from the 6,643 feet high Clingmans Dome but it does offer an amazing view of historic buildings surrounded by the Smoky Mountain scenery.
Cades Cove also happens to be one of the most popular areas to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The 11 mile loop road has historic buildings including a working grist mill, log cabins built by pioneers, and churches.
Cades Cove Loop is excellent for hiking and wildlife watching in the Smokies – expect to see lots of black bears on a visit!
Read our guide on Best Things to do in Cades Cove for more information.
Best hiking trails for scenic views of Great Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountain have several hikes that offer excellent views along the way.
Hike to a scenic waterfall surrounded by fall foliage or take a trail to the mountain summit and see the blue haze for miles.
Also Read: Best Waterfall Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
Chimney Tops Trail
The Chimney Tops trail might not be the most difficult hike but it is a popular one, with many people making their way up to its summit every day!
The 3.3 mile round trip trail takes you on a short and easy hike that offers great views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the summit of Chimney Tops.
You can see pinnacles of Chimney Tops as well as Mt Leconte from the observation deck.
Be warned: the hike is short but steep and not suitable for young children due to large elevation gains at the end.
Alum Cave Trail to Inspiration Point Bluff
For incredible views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hike the Alum Cave Bluffs Trailhead to Inspiration Point.
This 4.4 mile hike (round trip) is located along Newfound Gap Road and offers amazing views from the top of the bluff.
Along the trail, you can see the famous Arch Rock tunnel.
Visitors can see the Anakeesta Ridge and Mt Leconte from here.
You can also see Little Duck Hawk Ridge and Myrtle Point, making Alum Cave Trail one of the popular trails in the park for views.
The Alum Cave Trail is of moderate difficulty and can be done by families with older kids.
There is a parking area for the trail off Newfound Gap Road but it gets frequently full during peak season.
Fun fact: The adventure doesn’t end at Inspiration Park.
The Alum Cave Trail leads you to the cave itself, which is more a concave bluff than a natural cave.
Alum Cave is a cave steeped in history.
The Alum cave was historically mined for Epsom salts and saltpeter, which gives the Alum cave its unique name.
Rainbow Falls Trail to top of Mount Leconte
Mount Leconte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountain.
The Leconte Lodge which is located on top of Mount Leconte is the highest inn in Eastern America and offers spectacular views of the Smokies.
Along with Alum cave trail, several other trails offer views of Mount Leconte such as the Trillium Gap Trail and Rainbow Falls trail.
Rainbow Falls trail is 5.4 miles round trip and takes visitors to the lodge.
Along the way, you can see the scenic 80 foot tall Rainbow Falls on the LeConte Creek.
Rainbow Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Smokies and offers one of the most picturesque views of the mountain ranges.
The trailhead to the 80 foot high waterfall is located along Roaring Fork Motor Trail.
Mount Cammerer Fire Tower
The Fire/Lookout Tower on top of Mt. Cammerer is known by very few people.
It was built by the CCC in 1930s and still remains in an excellent condition.
The observation tower has incredible views of the endless mountain ranges.
Hike along the Appalachian Trail and the Low Gap Trail to reach the observation tower on Mount Cammerer.
The trailhead begins at Low Gap Trail and continues for 3 miles along dense forests before meeting the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian trail will take you rest of the way up to the tower through steep ascents and switchbacks.
The round trip trail is 11 miles long and has an elevation gain of over 3000 feet – its definitely not for the faint of heart!
Abrams Fall Trail
After Laurel falls, the most popular waterfall hike in the park is probably Abrams Falls.
The trail goes for about 2 miles along the Abrams creek and leads to the 20 feet tall waterfall.
The falls maybe small in height but they are the most powerful waterfall in the park.
Abrams Creek rushes down the rocks into a small pool at the end.
Hikers are warned not to swim in the pool as the currents in the creek are strong.
The roundtrip hike is 5 miles.
Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular waterfall in the park.
The Laurel Falls trail is a paved 2.6 miles round trip trail that takes visitors to the breathtaking waterfall.
It is great for families and has cool views of the mountains along the trail.
You can easily visit the falls on your way to Cades Cove.
Best view of Smoky Mountains from outside the park
Even outside of the national park, you will find several places from where you can enjoy stunning mountain views such as Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Here are our favorite photo spots to enjoy 360 degree views of the mountains for all nature lovers.
Gatlinburg Skylift Park and Skybridge
The Gatlinburg Skylift is located in the Great Smoky Mountains at an elevation of 3100 feet.
The Gatlinburg Skybridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in America.
From here, you can enjoy beautiful views of mountains and valleys as well as catch a glimpse of wildlife such as Bighorn sheep and back bears!
Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
The Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is located on the Great Smokies Expressway between Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
It offers some of the most spectacular views of the mountains in all seasons!
If you are ever visiting for a weekend, make sure to take a drive along this road!
Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway
Ober Gatlinburg is located about a mile from Gatlinburg.
It is a ski resort which has an aerial tramway that takes visitors to three different observation decks.
The aerial tramways are open throughout the year and offers amazing views of the Great Smoky mountains, the Tennessee hills and valley.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
This iconic building is located in downtown Gatlinburg.
It’s a perfect place to enjoy aerial views of the mountains during sunset.
Catch the Gatlinburg Space Needle in all its glory along with an amazing view of the Smoky Mountains!
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge is an amusement theme park that offers thrilling rides and some of the best views of the Smoky Mountains.
The park was founded by Dolly Parton and is a popular tourist destination in Tennessee.
The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
The Ferris Wheel in Pigeon Forge offers splendid views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The ride is located at the Island in Pigeon Forge, which is a popular tourist destination.
On a visit, you can enjoy skyline views of the mountains from 60 feet up at the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel!
Besides these, there are several canopy and zipline ours available in the area from where you can enjoy views of the famous mountains.
Tail of the Dragon Scenic Drive
The Tail of the Dragon is the ultimate adventure for thrill seekers.
Located on the Tennessee North Carolina state line in the Smokies, the Scenic Highway has over 300 curves and offers stunning views of the Smoky Mountains from above.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful and unique place to visit.
The mountain views are breathtaking, whether you decide to hike them or see from afar!
There’s no better way than experiencing the park itself with its vibrant colors of fall. It also offers many different ways for travelers who want an exciting adventure without much effort like Morton Overlook or Clingmans Dome.
Hiking in the mountains may not be easy but it will certainly provide some unforgettable memories that last a lifetime!
We hope you liked our post on best views in Smoky Mountains National Park.