If you’ve visited our website dancingbearfoot.com, you may have seen we have a page dedicated to scenic drives in the Smokies. We know hiking isn’t everyone passion and driving through the park is a great way to see the amazing scenery the Smokies have to offer. Now there is a new way to see the Smokies that no one can afford to miss, the newly completed section of The Foothills Parkway.
Brief History of the Foothills Parkway:
For those of you not familiar with The Foothills Parkway, Congress authorized the Foothills Parkway in 1944 as a scenic parkway that would provide magnificent views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from a road corridor that was outside the Park. When completed, the Parkway will be a 72-mile long road traversing the western and northern perimeters of the park and will extend from Interstate 40 east of Cosby, TN to Chilhowee, in the west. So far only 38.6 miles of the parkway have been completed.
The section that just opened (Sections E & F on the map above) runs from Wears Valley on the east to Walland TN on the west. I took my drive during the first week of December. Let’s just say that’s not the prime time for scenic views, all the leaves are off the trees and my day was overcast and drizzling. BUT (and that’s a big but) the views were still breathtaking and well worth the drive.
Getting to the Foothills Parkway:
Getting to the Foothills Parkway is easy. If you’re like most people, you’ll be heading out from Pigeon Forge or Sevierville. Take Wears Valley Road (US-321) west, you’ll travel a few miles and then you’ll see a sign marking the entrance to the Foothills Parkway on the right. Keep in mind once you get on the Parkway there is no exit until you get to Townsend.
The Foothills Parkway sort of parallels US-321 but at a much higher elevation. If you’re a person who really likes driving and the twists and turns of a scenic mountain road you’ll love driving this parkway. I’m sure this will be a must drive for the motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts who enjoy riding and driving on the Tail of the Dragon. The pavement of course is brand new and perfectly smooth, I drive a Mazda and this road was a blast. I’m not encouraging speeding by any means but if you have a car that handles well you’ll really appreciate this road.
Now getting back to the main attraction for all of us and that’s the scenery. There are plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the view but near the middle just before all the “missing link” bridges start there is a pull off that offers one of the best views in the Smokies. Pictures do not do this view justice as to the side to side expanse of the park. Where Newfound Gap offers you a view that is depth of view the Foothill Parkway offers you the panoramic view and it’s incredible. I can only imagine what this looks like during the fall colors, simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, I saw it on probably it’s worst day but it was still worth the drive and still incredible.
Construction of the Foothills Parkway:
Now stepping back a moment from the enjoyment of driving the road and incredible views one must appreciate the engineering and road building that went into constructing this parkway. The missing link bridge section is especially fascinating. Bravo to all of you engineers that paid attention in math class and the tenacity of the crews that built this roadway. It’s amazing to me how these roads an be built on the side of a mountain. Plus, they kept the look of the original roadwork from the conservation corps that built the original roads in the Smokies. That attention to detail didn’t escape us, it’s beautiful.
Simply put the Foothills Parkway is a new jewel of the Smokies and shouldn’t be missed as these views will change with each of the seasons. I can’t wait to see what the spring summer and fall hold for us.
If you want to learn about other scenic drives in the Smokies visit our our page https://www.dancingbearfoot.com/scenic-driving-tours.html
Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in? Check out our sample itineraries: https://wordpress.com/post/dancingbearfoot.blog/53
Thank you for reading. If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.