If traveling from around the Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area, take this bypass to eliminate the traffic congestion. This is a less traveled route and you'll see more landscape with less cars flying by.
Fighting Creek Gap Road
This road is very windy but offers great views of the valley. Take your time while driving and enjoy the ride!
Before going on this 45 minute drive, be sure to stop at this center, talk to the park employees and get a little history lesson. The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful and can tell you where to go if you just ask. While here, grab a map, get some snacks for the kids and go to the bathroom!
No matter where you are in this mountain range, you're bound to see wildlife whether bear, deer, caterpillars or birds. There are several hiking trails and look out points to pull over and take in the natural beauty and smells of the clean fresh air. Be sure to take your time and really explore the area. Also there are signs at all the picnic areas that remind you not to feed the bears. The ranger told us that when people do that, it encourages the bears to attack people because they feel threatened that they're going to take their food.
The Clingmans Dome offers free parking. and is the highest peak in all of the Smoky Mountains. The paved path is 0.5 miles long and it's steep, so make sure you have some walking shoes on. It will take effort to hike up this trail. Once at the Dome, you'll take a flight of stairs to the top which offer breathtaking views and also guard rails to hang onto while walking around this concrete observatory deck. When at the top it can get windy and it will feel like you're swaying. Just hang onto the railing and you'll be fine. On nice days this tower can get crowded, so be patient to grab that great photo.
The observatory is located in North Carolina. If taking this route from Tennessee you do actually cross into a new state!