Smokies from Above
7 Destinations for a Bird’s-Eye View
Breathtaking views abound in the Tennessee Smokies. From almost every vantage point, you’re sure to catch beautiful mountain vistas and other fantastic scenery. The Smokies’ beauty can be captured by foot, car, raft, horseback and more. How about seeking a new perspective and seeing the Smokies from above? Whether you want to marvel at the abundant wildflowers in spring, the refreshing and sparkling waterfalls in summer, the vibrant amber and gold foliage in fall or the snow-covered mountain peaks in winter, these destinations won’t disappoint. Don’t forget your camera when you visit these seven places to take in a bird’s-eye view of the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.
Short of growing wings and taking flight yourself, tours aboard an aircraft are one of the best ways to get sky high. Many companies in the area offer air tours via helicopters or biplanes. An authentic biplane adds a sense of nostalgia to your high-flying tour, making it a truly unforgettable memory. Whatever you choose, pick a tour that offers the elevation and sights you’re looking for. Whether that’s over the shimmering rivers and lakes or above the rolling foothills and mountain paths, you’ll have a number of outstanding pictures to remember your Tennessee Smokies vacation by.
At a towering elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the state of Tennessee. A visit to the park’s observation tower, on the summit of Clingmans Dome, offers astounding 360-degree views. On average, visitors can see for a distance of up to 20 miles. On a clear day, that increases to over 100 miles.
Gatlinburg Space Needle
One of Gatlinburg’s most recognizable landmarks, the Gatlinburg Space Needle can be seen from miles away. A glass elevator carries you to the top of the 407-foot steel tower to a 360-degree platform. The Space Needle showcases panoramic views of the town, Mount LeConte and more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, providing the perfect backdrop for your photos. Take a peak through the SeeCoast view finders to search among the flourishing natural setting for some of the area’s wildlife.
Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook
For more fantastic views of Gatlinburg, take a drive on the Gatlinburg Bypass to the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. Open 24/7, free of charge, the Overlook boasts outstanding views through all four seasons. Park your car at one of the parking areas on the Bypass and see for yourself why this is one of the most photographed areas in the city. This is the perfect pitstop for those looking to admire the scenery without having to hike or wait in line.
Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
The Great Smoky Mountain wheel at The Island in Pigeon Forge is one of the tallest attractions in the southeast. Standing at 200 feet, this observation wheel comfortably allows up to eight guests to take in views of the entire shopping and dining destination with the lush, vibrant treetops in the background. Fully enclosed and climate controlled, the wheel is perfect year-round sightseeing.
A popular destination for adventurous hikers, Mount LeConte has an elevation of 6,593 feet. Start from one of the many trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and begin your ascent. Mount LeConte, the highest peak that is entirely in the state of Tennessee, is known for providing some of the most picturesque sunrises and sunsets. You won’t soon forget the vivid red and orange hues once you reach the summit.
Adrenaline seekers will love soaring above the treetops and gliding through the air on a zipline. There are a number of zipline tours offered throughout the Smokies. A professional will strap you into a secure harness then you’re all set to fly above the mountain setting and take in the panoramic views. Zipline tours offer several options for elevation, length and view so each incredible tour provides a unique experience.
Image from Anakeesta