Great Smoky Mountains: Self-Guided Drive

From
USD1700

Free cancellation

A full refund will apply if you cancel more than 24 hours before the activity start time.

Guide LanguageEnglish
Good To KnowE-voucher
203 reviews

About

Combine the convenience of a guided tour with the freedom of independent travel with this self-guided driving tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Download the tour onto your phone and learn about Cherokee history and legends, Appalachian life, and more. See several of the park's best spots such as Clingman's Dome, and Rainbow Falls. Note: this does not include entrance to the park or attractions.

Highlights

Self-guided driving tour of Great Smoky Mountains: Download onto your phone
Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park at your own pace
Get insights into the history and heritage of the Smoky Mountains
New, extra validity — now, it’s yours for an entire year! Use multiple times over multiple trips!

Itinerary

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.
NOTE: This 47-mile-long tour covers the essentials of the Great Smoky Mountains in 2-3 hours.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Next you'll pass the Alum Cave Trail, which takes hikers to the remains of an old salt mine packed with fascinating history.
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.
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.
The tour leads next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, a perfect rest stop and the site of a few trailheads.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
There are many stories that you'll hear along the way, including
• Ancestral Cherokee Land
• Tsali and the Trail of Tears
• Revolt Against the Ani'kutani
• Sequoyah's New Storytelling System
• The Milky Way
• Selu's Sacrifice
• Great Smoky Geology
• Webb View
• Appalachia's Settlers
• Appalachian Trail
• Ghost Firs of Clingman's Dome
• Funding the Smokies
• Appalachian Balds
• Balsam Point Quiet Walkway and more.
Explore the captivating Cades Cove and the stunning Great Smoky Mountains by purchasing our special bundle that includes both destinations.

Inclusions

Easy-to-use app: download Action’s Tour Guide App onto your phone
Great value: purchase per car, not per person. More affordable than bus or guided tours!
Engaging storytelling: Uncover unique tales and thrilling history for a memorable journey!
Perfect narrator: nothing can beat listening to a great voice. Proven with tons of rave reviews!
Offline maps: no signal, no problem! Works perfectly without cellular or wifi.
Comprehensive route and stops: See it all, miss nothing, leave no stone unturned!
Go at your own pace: Start anytime, pause anywhere, enjoy breaks for snacks and photos freely!
Hands-free: audio stories play on their own based on your location. Easy to use!

Exclusions

Attraction passes, entry tickets, or reservations

Additional Information

  • Public transportation options are available nearby
  • Suitable for all physical fitness levels
  • How to access: Once you book a tour, you’ll get a confirmation email and an instructions email. Follow the instructions right away: • Download the app • Enter the password • Download the tour • MUST DO while in strong wifi/cellular
  • How to start the tour: Once onsite, open the Action's Tour Guide App: • If there is just one tour, launch it. • If there are multiple tour versions, launch the one with your planned starting point and direction. • Go to the starting point. (Note: no one will meet you at the start. This tour is self-guided). • The audio will begin automatically at the starting point. If you face audio issues, visit the FAQ. • Stick to the tour route & speed limit for the best experience.
  • Amazing savings: • Driving Tours: Save money by purchasing a single tour for the entire vehicle, avoiding individual fees per person like on a bus tour. Connect your phone to the car speakers to share the audio.
  • Flexibility and Convenience: • Use the tour app anytime, on any day, and over multiple days. It's perfect for tailoring your exploration and revisiting your favorite spots on future trips. • Start and pause the tour whenever you like, taking breaks and exploring side excursions at your own pace, free from the constraints of a group.
  • Comprehensive Tour Experience: •The app provides a full itinerary, travel tips, narrated audio stories, scripts, images, videos, and recommendations for additional activities. • Enjoy a private experience without the crowds, ideal for personalized stops and photo opportunities.
  • Ease of Use and Accessibility: • The app is hands-free and activates stories via GPS, offering support through call, chat, or email. • There is no need for a continuous cell or Wi-Fi connection as the GPS map works offline.
  • Memorable Keepsakes: • Utilize the app’s images to create a photo book or share on social media, ensuring you have high-quality, crowd-free memories from your trip.
  • Preparation: • After booking, download the app and the tour using a strong Wi-Fi connection. • Review the tour at home before your trip for a better experience.
  • Starting the Tour: • Open the app upon arrival at your destination. • Select the appropriate tour based on your starting point. • Head to the starting location; the audio will begin automatically. • Follow the suggested route and adhere to the speed limit for an optimal experience. • By following these instructions and taking advantage of the app's features, users can enjoy a personalized, flexible, and in-depth exploration of their destination at their own pace and convenience.

Guide Languages

  • English

Cancellation Policy

  • A full refund will apply if you cancel more than 24 hours before the activity start time.

  • No refund is possible if you cancel less than 24 hours before the activity start time.