A woman wears a red 'I love national parks' ball cap backwards as she overlooks a sparkling lake, vast forests, and towering mountains in the distance.

Check Out This Back Door Entrance Into Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are you planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains? We found a back door entrance into Great Smoky Mountains National Park that provides less traffic and beautiful views along the way. And we’re about to spill the beans.

Get ready to learn all you need to know about this oft-ignored entrance. We’ll also provide some tips for what to explore in the area.

A woman wears a red 'I love national parks' ball cap backwards as she overlooks a sparkling lake, vast forests, and towering mountains in the distance.

How Many Entrances Are There to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has six entrances. There are two main entrances at Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C. And there’s one in Townsend, Tenn.

The additional three entrances are lesser-known. They’re at Cosby, Cataloochee, and Wears Valley. 

A Back Door Entrance Into Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The entrance in Wears Valley, Tenn., is the best back door into the national park. It’s the least used entrance into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

From it, you can access all major areas of the park, including Cades Cove and Newfound Gap. It’s the perfect alternative entrance to avoid the busy main road in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Locals often use it to avoid the traffic.

Learn about six more of the best kept secrets in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Where Is the Wears Valley Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains?

The Wears Valley entrance is on Wear Cove Gap Road. It leads to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area between the Elkmont and Tremont sections of the national park. 

To get to the entrance, head out of Pigeon Forge on Wears Valley Road for about nine miles to the town of Wears Valley. Then go left on Line Springs Road for one and a half miles until it turns into Wear Cove Gap Road. At that point, you’ll have entered the national park. Be aware that the road is curvy and narrow. 

Reasons to Use the Wears Valley Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Once you use the Wears Valley entrance once you’ll likely never use another entrance again. Besides the ease of access, it offers stunning panoramic views of unspoiled landscapes. Check out the top three reasons we recommend this back door entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A road during the fall colors through the Great Smoky Mountains

Less Traffic

The main entrances of the national park can be extremely crowded, especially in the summer months. The Wears Valley entrance is less known and therefore less busy. It offers an opportunity to access all the park has to offer without waiting behind hundreds of other visitors. 

The Wears Valley entrance connects to other popular areas in the national park, such as Cades Cove and Newfound Gap.

Cades Cove is a beautiful valley with the Great Smoky Mountains all around. You can take Cades Loop, which is an 11-mile road that circles the cove. There are turn-offs for sightseeing and trails for hikes along the way. It’s a great spot to see wildlife, foliage, and more.

Newfound Gap is a low-point mountain range that sits at an elevation of 5,046 feet. It’s the lowest pass you can drive in the national park. You can take in spectacular views from the drive or from hiking in the area. The Appalachian Trail also crosses over the gap. In addition, to the south of the gap, you’ll find Clingmans Dome, which is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee on a foggy morning in the valley with the mountain ridges in the distance.

Explore Wears Valley, Tenn.

From history to mountain views, Wears Valley is worth a stop on your way into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The town has a Heritage Center with indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a preserved Appalachian barn and ancient Cherokee artifacts. 

People love riding the mountain roller coasters in the area. You can jump on board for fun. It’s great entertainment with a view. Ziplines and horseback riding are other outings in Wears Valley that can be fun for the whole family.

What Is the Great Smoky Mountains’ Entrance Fee?

Access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free. It’s one of the few national parks without a cost to enter.

However, there is a fee to camp. The National Park Service says it’s free because when the state of Tennessee transferred ownership of a road that goes into the park to the government, it stipulated that no one could impose a toll or fee on the road.

A man stands on a rock overlooking the vast landscape of mountains, feeling small.

Is It Worth Using the Wears Valley Entrance?

We highly recommend using the Wears Valley entrance. The traffic at the other entrances can be so congested that it can hinder your ability to spend quality time in the park. Entering via Wears Valley is much smoother. Plus, it’s rustic and beautiful, giving you a different perspective of the park from other areas.

If you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take a photo at this back door entrance and tag us!

Have you ever used this overlooked entrance?

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