Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self Driving Tour
3.8/53.8 out of 5
Recommended: Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together!
Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park and discover why it’s the most visited National Park in the country! Tour these famous mountains while learning about Cherokee history and legends, Appalachian life, and much more. There’s no better way to see Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, or Rainbow Falls. Plus, enjoy a free bonus tour of Roaring Forks Motor Trail!
Here's how it works: Within 30 mins, we'll send you two things: a unique password and an app. Download the app onto your phone, enter the password, and download the tour. When you arrive, go to the first stop, launch the app, and follow the instructions! Stick to our recommended route and speed limit for the best experience.
No expiration — The tour comes with lifetime validity!
This is not an entrance ticket to attractions along the route. Check pandemic rules and opening hours before your visit.
06:00 AM, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self Driving Tour in English
What's included, what's not
Know before you book
- Public transportation options are available nearby
- Suitable for all physical fitness levels
- How it works: Once you book a tour, you’ll get a text/email with instructions. Download the app (while in good wifi/signal) and use your unique password to access your tours. To begin touring, go to the Starting Point and launch the app. The audio starts automatically. Stick to the tour route & speed limit for the best experience. Please note that no one will meet you at the starting point.
- Good value Purchase only one tour for the entire vehicle instead of taking the bus and paying for each person. You will see a significant saving. Connect your phone to car speakers by a wire or bluetooth. Enjoy the tour by listening together as you drive.
- Flexible Schedule: Once the app/tour is on your phone, you can use it any day and at any time. You can use it over multiple days. And, also use it on your next trip here. This tour never expires.
- Preview the tour: You can use it before the trip at home (highly recommended), use it during the trip, and use it after you come back.
- Don't miss a thing: You will get everything with the app - a complete itinerary, travel tips, professionally narrated audio stories, story script, images, videos, deep dives, hidden gems, exciting locations, recommendations for hikes, adventure, activities, treks, and stop-by-stop direction.
- Private tour: You can use it in your car or rental car. No worries about groups or crowds. Start the tour app on your phone. And it will direct you step by step. You can stop for as many breaks as you like. Take a break for Instagram photos, and take a break for lunch/snacks. Go on a hike. The tour will wait for you and start when you start again. You can even do the tour over multiple days. Go at your own pace.
- Easy to use: The stories play themselves as soon as the GPS is activated. It requires no use of your hands at all. You can get HELP by calling, chatting, or emailing any time of the day.
- Offline: There is no need for a cell signal or Wi-Fi while touring. App’s GPS map works offline.
- Expiration/go again: The tour will last for the rest of your life on your phone. It is available for use on any day of your next trip.
- Use pictures for a photo book: Create a photo book using clean (no crowd) app images of each spot to make a memorable trip. All the photos and the correct sequence is ready in the app for you to use.
- Social media: Share clean (no crowd) images with friends/family.
- Devices supported include iPhones with iOS 13 & above, Android phones with version 9 & above and all cellular-enabled tablets & iPads.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The sprawling landscape encompasses lush forests and an abundance of wildflowers that bloom year-round. Streams, rivers, and waterfalls appear along hiking routes that include a segment of the Appalachian Trail. An observation tower tops Clingmans Dome, the highest peak, offering scenic views of the mist-covered mountains.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Your drive through the beautiful, majestic Smoky Mountains begins at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Get ready to explore the Smokies and discover why this is the most visited National Park in the country!
As you drive, you'll have the option to take a detour to the Mingus Mill, an 1886 grist mill which, believe it or not, is still fully functional! If you're here on weekends, you can even see the mill operators grind corn just like they did back in the 1800s.
Your first major stop is the Beech Flats Quiet Walkway, a perfect spot for anyone who wants to soak up the natural beauty of the mountains without having to hike an arduous trail.
Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station
Heading toward Clingman's Dome, you'll soon see its famous observation tower. You really haven't seen the Great Smoky Mountains until you've seen them from up here!
Newfound Gap Road
From there, your drive continues to Newfound Gap, a stunning mountain pass with huge historical significance. Hear the story of how trappers, farmers, and merchants used to cross the Smokies, and how this gap changed all of that.
Up next is the Rockefeller Memorial, where you'll learn more about Rockefeller's importance to the park! This memorial was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt himself.
After that, you'll reach Morton Overlook, hugely popular for its unbelievable sunsets.
Morton Mountain Tunnel
Continuing on, you'll pass through the heart of a mountain using the Morton Tunnel. Here, you'll also hear about how a politician named Ben Morton got his name all over the park.
Alum Cave Trail
Next you'll pass the Alum Cave Trail, which takes hikers to the remains of an old salt mine packed with fascinating history.
Chimney Tops Overlook
Your route takes you next to Chimney Tops Overlook, where you'll hear all about wildfires in the Smokies and how they cause lasting damage to mountains like this one.
Carlos Campbell Overlook
The next overlook on your route is Carlos Campbell Overlook, which serves up panoramic views of towering mountains and lush forests.
Next up is the most accessible trail in the park: Sugarlands Valley Trail! This scenic trail can be accessed by wheelchair or stroller, and offers a great way to venture into the wilderness.
Sugarlands Visitors Center
The tour leads next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, a perfect rest stop and the site of a few trailheads.
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
Next up is the most accessible trail in the park! Sugarlands Valley Trail can be accessed by wheelchair or stroller, and offers a great way to venture into the scenic wilderness. We'll also turn back the clock to get an in-depth look at the complicated history of this valley and the settlers who once lived here.
Your drive continues to Cataract Falls, a beautiful, secluded set of waterfalls tucked beneath a shaded canopy of beech trees.
Finally, you'll arrive in the picturesque mountian town of Gatlinburg, where your tour will conclude.
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Our next stop is perfect for anyone amused by kitschy oddities. This funky museum displays everything from shrunken human heads to rare animal skeletons. We'll get the inside scoop on how it started as a simple one-panel comic strip and grew into a national phenomenon.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Continue following the road to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This driving trail invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and historic buildings of the area. It also features three of the park's most famous waterfalls!
Rainbow Falls Trail
Our route takes us next to the Rainbow Falls Trail, which leads to the park's most popular waterfall. Standing at 80 feet, Rainbow Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Smokies, but that's not all! When the sun hits it right, it glimmers like a rainbow--hence the name.
Grotto Falls Trail
Keep driving until you reach the Grotto Falls trail. While it's not quite as grand as Rainbow Falls, this secluded, less crowded waterfall is absolutely worth a visit. On your way, hear about a rare salamander you can only find right here!
The Place of a Thousand Drips
Why settle for one waterfall when you can have several? Our next stop is the Place of a Thousand Drips, where numerous narrow falls come together to form a stunning torrent.
Baskins Creek Falls
Our drive takes us next to the Baskin Creek Falls, a sparkling waterfall where we'll hear about the amusing, and slightly misguided history behind the name of these falls.
Ephraim Bales Cabin
Up next, we'll pass the Ephraim Bales Cabin, a portal back in time to the 19th century. We'll hear all about the family that lived here, and why there's a big hole in the middle of their cabin!
Alfred Reagan Tub Mill
The road brings us next to the Reagen Cabin, which displays a perfect example of old-timey technology in the form of the so-called "tub mill." Hear all about what that is and why it was useful here.
Next, our drive takes us to Ely's Mill, a historic mill on the outskirts of Gatlinburg which gives us another window into the lives of the early Appalachian settlers. Here, we'll learn about Andrew Ely, the bigshot lawyer who upended his entire life after his wife died, abandoned his law practice, and moved to Gatlinburg to start over and live a simpler life.
Finally, we'll arrive in the mountian town of Gatlinburg, we'll hear how it all began with the unfortunate, ill-fated William Ogle, who built the town's very first cabin but never got to live there. Then we'll hear about how the town grew, the struggle that consumed it during the Civil War, and how it became what it is today. This is where our tour officially concludes.
Cleaning and safety practices
- Masks required