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
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.
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
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 is currently closed.
Picnicing at Look Rock
The Look Rock picnic area is currently closed.
The restrooms at Look Rock are in the picnic area, which is currently closed.
Maps and Directions to Look Rock
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.
Note: Parking is also available at the picnic area and at the campground
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
Landmarks visible from Look Rock
View on a clear day vs view on a hazy day
View from LookRock on a day with a clear view
View from LookRock on a hazy day
Current view from Webcam
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
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.
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.