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   Look Rock
 





Look Rock on the Foothills Parkway

Located on the scenic Foothills Parkway, Look Rock is a natural observation ledge overlooking the park. An easy 1/2 mile hike leads to the observation tower which provides a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the mountains. The Foothills Parkway is not as busy as other roads in the park, so this is a great place to get away from the crowds and traffic, especially during the peak fall leaf color viewing times in October. The Parkway is 18 miles long with many scenic pull-offs. Look Rock is at the highest point along the Parkway. The National Park Service maintains a picnic area and a campground at Look Rock.

Look Rock Observation Tower

The observation tower is open to the public and is accessible by the hiking trail. The tower offers amazing views on clear days. The railing is low, so keep an eye on younger kids. The very top level is closed. The trail to the tower starts on the east side of the parking area. There is also a natural observation ledge on the west side of the parking area that does not require hiking, but does not offer the 360 degree panaramic view that you get at the tower. See the map below.
Look Rock Observation Tower, Smoky Mountains
Observation Tower

More Information

Best times to visit

  • In the Fall when the leaves are changing: most of the park is very crowded in mid to late October, but the Foothills Parkway and Look Rock are generally not crowded.
  • The views are best on clear days. See the pictures below to compare the view on a clear day vs a hazy day. It is best when the visibility is 20 miles or more, but as long as it is at least 5 miles, it will be OK. See the weather section below for the current visibility.
  • Come to the Look Rock campground if others, like Cades Cove, fill up.
  • Don't come when it snows. The road is not usually closed, but it is a windy mountain road that is not safe to drive on when it snows.

    Look Rock Weather

    Click for Townsend, Tennessee Forecast

    Hiking at Look Rock

    The only hiking trail at look rock is a 1/2 mile trail from the parking area to the observation tower. The observation tower is open to the public and provides views for as much as 40 miles on a clear day. The trail begins at one end of the parking area. On the other end of the parking area is an overlook which provides splended views without the hike. The trail is wide and well-maintained. It is great for kids (the rail on the observation tower is low, so keep a close eye on the kids). The trail starts on the east side of the parking area. It crosses the road and then goes up to an air quality moniroring station. It then runs along the ridge for a short distance and ends at the observation tower.

    Camping at Look Rock

    The Look Rock Campground has restrooms with running water and flush toilets, but no hot water, showers, or RV hookups. There are 68 campsites available on a first come first served basis for $14 each. While reservations are not available, it rarely fills up. Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire grate, and a clear area for a tent. RVs are also welcome. A ranger station is located at the campground.

    Picnicing at Look Rock

    The Picnic area has picnic tables and grills. Parking and restrooms are available in the picnic area. See map below for locations. A pavilion is available for groups on a first-come, first-served basis, it cannot be reserved in advance (Picnic pavilions at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks can be reserved for groups up to five months in advance).

    Restrooms

    Restrooms with running water and flush toilets are available at the picnic area. See Map of Look Rock.

  • Maps and Directions to Look Rock

    Directions

    Take Hwy 321 to the Foothills parkway. The entrance to the Foothills Parkway is well marked from Hwy 321. Go 11 miles to Look Rock. There is generally plenty of parking available.

    Driving Directions:
  • from Gatlinburg, TN
  • from Pigeon Forge, TN
  • from Cherokee, NC
  • from Maryville, TN
  • from the Knoxville Airport
  • from another location
  • Map of Look Rock

    Instructions for using the maps:

  • Click [+] to zoom in and [-] to zoom out, or drag the slider
  • Click and drag to move the map or click on the directional arrows
  • Click [Map] to view normal map, [Satellite] to view satellite image, or [Hybrid] to show both the map and satellite views.
  • Double click on a spot to re-center the map at that point.
  • Press the browser reload button to reset the map to the original state

    General Information

    Landmarks visible from Look Rock

    View From the Look Rock Observation, Smoky Mountains

    View on a clear day vs view on a hazy day

    Look Rock Tower Clear View Look Rock Tower Hazy View
    View from LookRock on a day with a clear view View from LookRock on a hazy day

    Current view from Webcam

    View From the Look Rock Observation, Smoky Mountains
    Look Rock Web Cam located at the top of the observation tower facing east (note: after dark, it will be black)

    Air quality monitoring station

    Look Rock Air Quality Station The Look Rock air quality station continuously monitors air quality and meteorlogical information for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The information collected is displayed at an exhibit at the Sugarlands visitor center. It is also available on line.

    Recommended Reading

    Great Smoky Mountains Wonder and Light This photo collection includes magnificent pictures of the Smokies including views of Cades Cove, Mount Le Conte, Clingmans Dome, and Cataloochee.
    100 Hikes in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most informative books available about hiking in the Smokies. It gives detailed information about many of the hiking trails in the park.
    Insiders' Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains provides good information about outdoor activities in the park. It also provides complete information about the surrounding areas including dining, lodging, and area attractions.

    For More Information

  • Smokies Bookstore
  • Observation Tower at Clingmans Dome
  • Cades Cove
  • Camping in the Smokies
  • Look Rock Webcam and air quality station

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