Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some amazing vistas! But how do you know where to stop? Where are the best sunset and sunrise locations? How do you navigate this 33 mile scenic road? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Keep reading to find out more about some amazing must see locations found along Newfound Gap Road. You won’t want to miss this!
Newfound Gap Road Details & Location
Travel Time: About a 1 hr. drive (one way) from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC | Distance: 33 miles
Newfound Gap Road, also known as US Highway 441, connects Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. This 33 mile scenic drive takes you up and over the Great Smoky Mountains. There are ample turn outs and photography opportunities as you drive the Newfound Gap Road. You can drive the entire length of 1 hour and continue on your journey, or you can drive to the mid point and turn around. The choice is up to you! Here are some of the highlights of Newfound Gap Road in order from north to south.
Best Sunrise Locations along Newfound Gap Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you can wake up early enough, catching the sunrise at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is worth it! But it only lasts for a short amount of time, so you want to choose your location ahead of time. I did my research and asked about sunrise locations at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. According to a park ranger there, the best sunrise locations at Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Newfound Gap road are the following:
Keep reading for sunrise location information and photographs!
Best Sunset Locations along Newfound Gap Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
In addition to amazing sunrises, sunsets at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are spectacular! I spoke with a park ranger to get the inside scoop, and he told me that the best sunset locations at Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Newfound Gap road are the following:
- Clingmans Dome Tower and Parking Lot
- Morton’s Gap Overlook
- Newfound Gap Overlook (photographic sunrise opportunities are better here in my opinion)
- Parking at Mp14.4
Keep reading for sunset location information and photographs!Sugarlands Visitor Center, Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains
Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is well worth a stop. In addition to souvenirs, like travel stamps, books, and collectible coins, there are also park rangers ready to help you and answer any questions you have. These rangers gave me a map as well as invaluable information to help me make the most of my visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Campbell Overlook on Newfound Gap Road
According to a Great Smoky Mountains National Park Website, Campbell Overlook “offers arguably the best vistas in the Park.” Sadly I didn’t know this when in visited in October 2018. This overlook is located about 1-2 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Be aware, however, that this pullout is located on the left hand side of the road so it may be a little bit harder to turn into if there is traffic.
Chimney Tops Picnic Area on Newfound Gap Road
If you are traveling around lunch time, the Chimney Tops Picnic Area is a great place to stop and eat. It is located about 4.8 miles south of the Visitor Center. If you are up for a hiking adventure, the Chimney Tops Trailhead is located just a few miles further down the Newfound Gap Road. The Chimney Tops formations have holes near the top, making them look like a natural chimney flue.
Mortons Gap Overlook on Newfound Gap Road
According to a park ranger, Mortons Gap Overlook is one of the most beautiful sunset locations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
My sister and I took these photos a few hours before sunset, however, I can see why this is a favorite sunset location. Can you see the Chimney Tops in the upper left hand corner of the above photograph? They look like a small rounded hill from this vista.
The Mortons Gap Overlook is located about 12.5 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
You will see the pull out on your right just after driving through the Morton Mountain Tunnel. The Mortons Gap Overlook is a beautiful location and well worth a stop!
Parking at Mp14.4 on Newfound Gap Road
I know, the description is vague at best, however, this is the map location for the next turn out. This little turnout is located just past the Mortons Gap Overlook on the right on Newfound Gap Road. While simple, it offers a beautiful view of the smoky mountains framed by trees. Since it also faces west, this location is another great sunset location and will be less crowded!
Newfound Gap Overlook on Newfound Gap Road
Okay, I actually created an entire post about the Newfound Gap Overlook. At this overlook there are restrooms, the Rockefeller Memorial, the Appalachian trail, as well as the ability to stand in two states at once!
The Newfound Gap Overlook offers both amazing sunset vistas as well as sunrise vistas, though I think the sunrise view would be the prettiest here! The Newfound Gap Overlook is the highest point on Newfound Gap Road and is located just before the midpoint of your drive.
Clingmans Dome Turnoff on Newfound Gap Road
Clingmans Dome Road is just past the Newfound Gap Overlook. This 7 mile detour takes you to Clingmans Dome Tower. If you have time, do not miss this! The sunset at Clingmans Dome is just breathtaking! Note that Clingmans Dome Road is closed from December 1 – March 31, so plan accordingly.
That said, because Clingmans Dome Tower offers a 360 degree view of the smoky mountains, the sunrise at Clingmans Dome is also famous, though that high up, cloud cover is common early in the morning. Below is the view showing where the sunrise would take place at Clingmans Dome. Don’t let that photo fool you. When the early morning light hits those mountains, it will transform them into smoky magic. At this point in your trip, you can turn around and head back up towards Gatlinburg, or you can continue down to the end of Newfound Gap Road.
Oconaluftee Valley Overlook on Newfound Gap Road
Of all the places I wanted to see at sunrise, the Oconaluftee Valley Overlook was it! There was a giant sunrise photograph showcased at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The park ranger told me that it was taken here. Sadly, I had to choose between photographing the sunrise at the Oconaluftee Valley Overlook and hiking Grotto Falls. Of course, when all was said and done, a beautiful waterfall won. Maybe next time! The Oconaluftee Valley Overlook isn’t labeled on Google Maps but is located just off of Newfound Gap Road. The overlook is located on the right at Parking Area #4 just after you enter North Carolina, about 13.9 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Mingus Mill on Newfound Gap Road
I didn’t have the opportunity to drive to Mingus Mill as we had to turn around, however, if you are going all the way down to Cherokee, NC, then I’ve heard this is absolutely worth a visit. Isn’t it beautiful?
Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road
If you’ve made it to the end of the Newfound Gap Road, then the Oconaluftee Visitor Center will be a welcome stop. There is the Mountain Farms Museum, guides, maps, and lots to see! For more information about the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, you can visit this website!
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip down the Newfound Gap Road and that you get the opportunity to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park for yourself. If not, at least you can see it through my photos! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!
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