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Where to watch a sunrise in the Great Smoky Mountains

Just keep in mind that depending on the time of year, part of your journey will be in the dark. Make sure you are prepared and drive safely up those mountain roads.
Credit: WBIR
View of the sky at sunset at Morton Overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — It doesn’t matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl, in the Great Smoky Mountains, there are several places to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset.

Depending on the location, you’ll either need to drive up or hike to the viewing spot.

Just keep in mind that depending on the time of year, part of your journey will be in the dark. Make sure you are prepared and drive safely up those mountain roads.

Clingmans Dome- the highest point in the national park; steep 0.5-mile hike to observation tower; make it to the top of the tower for 360-degree views; getting there early in the morning practically guarantees you’ll get a parking spot

Oconaluftee Valley Overlook- along Newfound Gap Road; just over the state line in North Carolina

Newfound Gap- right on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line; along U.S. 441 

Look Rock Tower- highest point on Foothills Parkway; easy 0.5-mile hike to observation tower; Blount County side of the Smokies

Morton Overlook- one of the park’s most visited overlooks; along U.S. 441 near Gatlinburg 

Cades Cove- one of the most popular destinations in the park; on the Blount County side

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail- 5.5 miles; one-way, loop road; accessible through Gatlinburg

For experienced hikers who are OK with venturing with a headlamp, there is another highly recommended option.

Mount LeConte- several access trails including Alum Cave, Rainbow Falls, Trillium Gap, Bullhead and the Boulevard; shortest trail for reaching the summit of Mt. LeConte is the Alum Cave trail which is about 5 miles in length; Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point are popular lookouts along the way