Best time to visit Tennessee

Little River Road in Tennessee 2024

A scenic ride in the Great Smokie Mountains

Best time: June | October (all year round)

Little River Road
Little River Road
Little River Road

Little River Road runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, eastern Tennessee. The 29-km (18-mi) road goes along the Little River and connects Gatlinburg and Townsend. This winding mountain road features incredible views, panoramic outlooks, and picnic spots. There are also several beautiful waterfalls that can be accessed from the road.

Laurel Falls Trail is 2.5-mi long paved trek that starts by the Little River Road and leads to a waterfall and a picnic area. Other options are Sinks Falls or Meigs Falls. The latter can be seen from the road. Metcalf Bottoms is the nicest picnic area in the park with the view of the Little River. Townsend "Y" or Townsend Wye, the meeting point of the Little River's two prongs, is a popular swimming spot in the summer months.

The road that starts at Sugarlands Visitor Center was constructed to replace the Little River Railroad that was used for logging. It is one of the most scenic drives of the Smokies. It includes many switchbacks and hairpin turns. The best time to drive and visit the Great Smoky Mountains Natural Park is early summer when wildflowers are blooming. Laurel and rhododendrons are abundant along Laurel Falls Trail. Also, in early June you can witness the synchronous fireflies phenomena at Elkmont. Fall foliage views are also incredible in the park peaking in October. As Little River Road is one of the primary roads, it is open all year round.

Practical info

What are some of the best picnic spots along Little River Road in Tennessee?

One of the most beautiful picnic areas along Little River Road in Tennessee is Metcalf Bottoms, offering stunning views of Little River. There are other alternatives for picnic spots along 29-km Little River Road, such as Townsend 'Y' and Laurel Falls Trail. The latter two may be busier but are also excellent options. Show more

When is the most picturesque time to drive Little River Road and witness wildflowers?

Early summer is the best time to experience the visual delight of wildflowers blooming on Little River Road in Tennessee. Laurel and rhododendrons are abundant near Laurel Falls Trail, highlighting the biodiversity of this area. Nevertheless, the views are equally mesmerizing in autumn, particularly in October when leaves change color. Show more

What is the history of Little River Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Little River Road, a 29-km (18-mi) stretch that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has a fascinating past. It replaced the Little River Railroad, which had been utilized for logging. The scenic mountain road includes breathtaking scenic views, outlooks, and picnic spots. It's one of the must-see drives of the Smokies. Show more

Where can you witness synchronous fireflies phenomena in Tennessee?

Elkmont, located on Little River Road, is reputed to be the best place to see the synchronous fireflies phenomena in Tennessee, generally occurring in June. It's an extraordinary natural lighting display that some consider the most incredible show on earth. It's crucial to purchase tickets ahead of time as admission to the Elkmont area is limited. Check the National Park Service site for ticket availability. Show more

Are there any swimming spots accessible from Little River Road in Tennessee?

Visitors to Tennessee's Little River Road can access a highly popular swimming spot in summer months known as Townsend 'Y' or Townsend Wye. Little River Road, which connects Gatlinburg and Townsend, provides access to this location, which is where the Little River's two prongs meet. The river is mild and slow-moving at this spot, making it ideal for swimming and paddling. Show more

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