Cycling Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.
Gatlinburg entrance to the park.
This national park is located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, and straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains which are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The park was established in 1934 and consists of 522,419 acres. This is the most visited park in the United States (12,547,743 visitors in 2019). This is one of the few national parks to charge no admittance fee (as of 2020):
“The reasons for free entry to the national park date back at least to the 1930s. The land that is today Great Smoky Mountains National Park was once privately owned. The states of Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as local communities, paid to construct Newfound Gap Road (US-441). When the state of Tennessee transferred ownership of Newfound Gap Road to the federal government, it stipulated that "no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed…" to travel the road” (National Parks Service).
There are three main entrances to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Gatlinburg, TN (north), Townsend, TN (east) and Cherokee, NC (south). Our route begins in Gatlinburg and travels to Clingman’s Dome. Visiting Clingmans Dome is one of the top attractions in this national park. Beware that the traffic for the first 13 miles on US 441 is very heavy and while it travels slowly and is within the park, it still travels very close to the cyclists as there is not a wide shoulder for this part of the ride. The last seven miles on Clingmans Dome Road are very calm and with much less traffic than on Highway 441.
Clingmans Dome Tower.