What is better than awe-inspiring views with nothing but miles of wildlife, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and snow-covered forests? A scenic overlook in the warmer months can make you feel like you are on top of the world, but in the winter, it can make you feel like that and more. Make sure to bundle up when embarking on one of the Great Smoky Mountains scenic lookouts. To make your journey to the Bryson City area’s most awe-inspiring lookouts, we've broken down a few of our favorites from easy, moderate, to challenging. Keep reading to find your perfect lookout match!
NEWFOUND GAP OVERLOOK: EASY
What an extraordinary lookout Newfound Gap Overlook is! To reach the overlook, you’ll need to travel less than 20 minutes to the nearby town of Cherokee and follow N US Highway 441, a 20-mile road trip with graceful twists and turns along the mountain. The Newfound Gap Overlook can be found in the southeastern part of the Smokies and is the lowest drivable pass at 5,046 ft. If you love a great selfie, you are in for a treat! You can be in two places at once on this overlook, as the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee crosses here. Consider a hike from Newfound Gap to Charlie's Bunion along the Appalachian Trail
If you are brave and dress a little warmer, you can even enjoy a picnic to take in the views of this winter wonderland. For others who don’t like the cold, enjoy the fantastic views, and then head back into Bryson City for a hot cup of cocoa in town!
Fun fact! President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2, 1940, at this very location. It is called the Rockefeller Memorial.
WATERROCK KNOB: MODERATE
Known for its astonishing views of the Appalachian Mountains, Waterrock Knob is truly a must-see overlook! Great for a sunrise or sunset viewing or a midday winter lookout with 360-degree views, you will be towering over Western NC at and elevation of 5,820ft. If you want to embark on the trail, you will be in for a delightful 1.2-mile, round-trip scenic trail. This is a moderate and pet-friendly trail that is great for solo hikers and groups!
Be Prepared: Check for road closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the winter months:
LONESOME PINE OVERLOOK TRAIL: CHALLENGING
Strap on your hiking boots and grab your water packs! We’re embarking on the 6.6-mile hike to The Lonesome Pine Overlook. Considered a much more challenging trail than the others, this trek, on average, takes around 3-4 hours to complete, and is worth every step. Once you have reached the end of this heart-pounding trail, you will be rewarded with an outstanding view of the Nantahala Mountains and Bryson City.
A WINTER ADVENTURE AWAITS
Whether you want to drive to an overlook or hike to one, we can assure you that each view is worth your time. Make sure you bring your camera so the moments last forever and you can hold on to them until your next visit!