Spectacular, breathtaking, awe inspiring. These are just a few words to describe the sunsets and sunrises that peer among the peaks in the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the best spots to capture the incredible colors while visiting East Tennessee.
Hiking to see a sunrise:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across more than 800 square miles of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The park is home to amazing wildlife, breathtaking views all year long and some of the oldest mountains in the world.
The crest of the Great Smokies runs in an unbroken chain of peaks that rise more than 5,000 feet for more than 36 miles. Elevations in the park range from 876 to 6,643 feet – at Clingman’s Dome.
Hike, drive, bike or cycle to a lookout at the top of one of these great peaks and enjoy the peaceful views. The Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce has some suggestions for picture perfect spots.
The Top 10 Peaks (elevation in feet)
Clingmans Dome – 6,643*
Mount Guyot – 6,621
Mount Le Conte (High Top) – 6,593*
Mount Buckley – 6,580*
Mount Love – 6,420
Mount Chapman – 6,417
Old Black – 6,370
Luftee Knob – 6,234
Mount Kephart – 6,217*
Mount Collins – 6,118
*You’ll see amazing views from Clingmans Dome, the peaks of Mount LeConte, Mount Buckley, and Mount Kephart’s view point – the Jump-off. The other peaks on this list are either off trail or do not offer a view.
As of 2018, the scenic Foothills Parkway comprised 33 miles connecting U.S. 129 and U.S. 321. With minimal traffic compared to other Smoky Mountain highways, the parkway offers “an easy, scenic connection for tourists between the Tail of the Dragon and Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.”
(Read more about the Tail of the Dragon and other motorcycle routes in our blog post).
Newfound Gap Parking Area
Drive up to Newfound Gap and stay warm and out of the wind in your vehicle! You’ll catch a stunning sunrise over the Oconoluftee Valley from here.
Myrtle Point – Mount LeConte – “Myrtle Point is hands down the best spot to watch the sunrise on Mt. Leconte,” one observer proclaimed.
You can see why …
Another great location is Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook, where visitors can see the downtown Gatlinburg with the incredible mountain backdrop. Free to all, the scenic overlook is located on the Gatlinburg Bypass, which runs between the Gatlinburg Spur and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Another great idea? make a cup of tea and sit on the deck of your mountain cabin to watch the sun rise and light up the peaks.
The same can be said for sunsets but maybe you’ll be and out and about when you are seeking a sunset view.
Did you know clean air is the main ingredient common to brightly colored sunrises and sunsets? And fall and winter tend to lend themselves to the most spectacular of these? Check out some facts about sunrises and sunsets here.
The last of the day’s light is often a site to behold. With the Great Smoky Mountains as the backdrop, it can be quite spectacular. In addition to mountain peaks and scenic overlooks, during the day and early evening, there are many attractions in the area from which to catch the setting sun and all its glory.
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
Towering 200-feet high, The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel stands as one of the tallest attractions in the Southeast. The wheel gives riders an “an unparalleled view of the world-famous Smoky Mountains in comfortable, all-glass gondolas that seat up to 8 guests.” What a fabulous place to watch a sunset!
Billed as North America’s largest pedestrian suspension bridge – Gatlinburg’s Sky Bridge is 680 feet from tower to tower – with the most fantastic views any time of day, but at sunset, something special happens when the light hits the glass.
To reach the Sky Bridge, get on the Skylift in Gatlinburg and head 1,800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain, looking down at forests, mountains and the town. The chairlift has been taking visitors up the mountain since 1954. Visitors get off at the Skydeck, where they can sit outside and enjoy the scene, buy a beer, do some shopping and lounge watching the day go by.
A $24.95 ticket gets one adult a round-trip on the SkyLift and all-day access to the SkyCenter and the Sky Bridge. Tickets are available online.
Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg with mountain views and 70 forested acres of fun and relaxation, Anakeesta is a mountain playground for all ages with views you’ll want to stay all day for so you don’t miss the sunset from here.
Take the scenic open chairlift or the enclosed Chondola from Gatlinburg up the mountain to Anakeesta – you can’t drive yourself.
Take in the scenic views of the Smokies and Downtown Gatlinburg by meandering trails in the lush botanical Vista Gardens Walk. Learn about the history and nature of Anakeesta at the Memorial Forest Walk. Stay after the sunset to enjoy the fire circle while listening to storytellers or live music.
Find a spot to enjoy your day and stay to watch the sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains – perhaps in a rocking chair or a cozy chair around the firepits.
At the top of Anakeesta is The Bar at the Top of the World, part of The Cliff Top Grill & Bar. It’s a great spot to watch the sun go down while enjoying a beer or a cocktail. Try Karen’s Sweet Tea, and maybe snack such as the southern favorite Fried Green Tomatoes or a ½ pound char-grilled Smoky Mountain burger that comes with your choice of unique toppings. Check out the menu.
Check out our blog on Anakeesta for all the fun and excitement.
The iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle is a 407′ observation tower that overlooks downtown Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Ride the glass elevators to the observation deck for a 360° view of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg.
Another great way to watch the sunset is from your cabin, relaxed and cozy in a hot tub on the deck or on a porch swing. Here are some cabins known for their views.
The Best View Lodge
Absolutely the best long distance panoramic and mountain views with 2 extra-large, well-furnished decks and a huge great room with cathedral ceiling and wall-to-wall 3 story chalet windows to enjoy it from plus lots of other windows providing views everywhere you look.
Located in Gatlinburg close to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and convenient to Pigeon Forge. Combine this with a luxury beautiful, new, open and airy cabin/chalet (best of both) with all the amenities including a hot tub looking down on the rest of the world, large game room with pool table, air hockey, card table, sit down arcade game, large windows, and a lounge area to enjoy all the activities. Plus lots of cabin/bear decor to enjoy everywhere. It also opens to the lower deck to combine the inside and outside activities. Comes with a private side/play yard.
See The Best View Lodge on our website.
Cabin on the Hill
Cabin on the Hill is a wonderful compromise for those who want both a great mountain view, but no mountain roads. Located just off of Walden’s Creek, this cabin has everything. There’s a view of the Great Smoky Mountains, relaxing hot tub and a large back deck. There’s a lofted game room, jacuzzi tub and more.
America’s View is a rustic cabin offers such breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains that the front porch swing and the hot tube will be your favorite destinations. Colorful sunsets and “smoky” valleys are the promise this cabin delivers.
Nestled in the foothills of the Smokies Rustic Ridge’s location is ideal for any family looking to experience a peaceful, secluded stay in the mountains and enjoy the magical views. The vaulted ceiling has high windows to let in plenty of natural light and the mountain beauty.
Looking for excitement? Hours of family fun can be had at the pool table or playing fast-paced games of air hockey. When you’re ready to wind down, grab the groceries & cook up a feast in the fully equipped kitchen or out on the charcoal grill. Have a family meal together out on the covered deck & relax after in a rocking chair while enjoying views of the mountains or the starry night sky. Back inside, have a restful sleep in one of 3 king bedrooms. In the morning, head to Cades Cove or Pigeon Forge for a sunrise since this location is halfway between both.
Book Your Stay Now
No matter what unique adventures you choose in the Great Smoky Mountains or where you decide to take in the sunrises and sunsets, you’ll want a cozy place to relax, hang out lay your head. Whether you want a treehouse experience or one of our many beautiful cabins, American Patriot Getaways can help you decide.
Book a Gatlinburg Cabin with a hot tub so you’ll have the perfect place to unwind under the stars. Be sure you check out all our amazing featured deals so you can get the best price for your mountain views.
Give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169. Let our experts help you find the right cabin and all the right fun, food and entertainment for your perfect Smoky Mountains vacation.