America's Scenic Byways

East Tennessee Crossing

83 miles -

Drive the East Tennessee Crossing Byway and soak in the richness of the Tennessee landscape. This route follows the original path of the Cherokee Warriors Path, the Wilderness Road across the Clinch Mountain and the Cumberland Gap, the Dixie Highway of the Civil War period and Thunder Road of moonshining lore.

The byway begins with the nationally significant Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and links to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Museum, with one of the most extensive Lincoln collections in the nation, all dedicated to the Union sympathies of the people of Northeast Tennessee. It offers the Wilderness Road State Park, a re-creation and interpretation of a Wilderness Road trading station and fort. Learn about one of our nations most beloved presidents on the East Tennessee Crossing Byway.

The byway climbs to Clinch Mountain where it looks down across the Great Valley of Tennessee. The byway passes through Bean Station, perhaps the most well-traveled and visited trading post along the Wilderness Road during its heyday that became a posh hot springs resort in the 19th century. In Bean Station, see the original trodden path of the Wilderness Road near the site of the Civil War’s Battle of Bean Station. Davey Crockett lived much of his life in this area. His boyhood home of Crockett’s Tavern Museum is in Morristown, right on the byway. He lived part of his adult life in the area of the historic village of Dandridge, one of the oldest towns in Tennessee and where one can enjoy a one-man show by Mr. Crockett.

The byway continues through Newport, a historic railroad town of the early 20th century and home to some of the finest whitewater rafting in the East. To the south of Newport lies Cherokee National Forest and Martha Sunquist State Forest and the famous site of the Christy Mission, from which the book, plays, TV series and movie were all developed about a young woman who committed herself to educating the mountain people of the region. Immediately to the southwest of Newport lies Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its exceptional interpretation of both the natural and human heritage of this region.

Musical and crafts history and heritage celebrated on the Wilderness Road Heritage Highway in Kentucky is continued along the East Tennessee Crossing Byway where one can visit a number of live music venues and crafts shops. Music can regularly be heard in downtown Tazewell in many locales. Bluegrass and gospel festivals often run throughout tourism seasons. Pottery, wine, agri-tourism, wood arts and quilting are all popular crafts along the East Tennessee Crossing Byway. Sneedville is the center of Melungeon culture, a unique subculture of people found only in Appalachia.

The whitewater rafting of the Pigeon River is among the top in the nation, as testified by the 12 rafting operations that run the river. The Appalachian Trail runs at the south end of the byway. Cherokee, Douglas and Norris Lakes offer several professional angling tournaments each summer including the bass tours. Hiking, fly fishing, power boating, canoeing, horseback riding, cycling, and camping are all popular along the byway. The landscape is dramatic, but accessible. Mountain vistas, river valleys, lakeside drives, farming landscapes, hills and hollers and historic villages are all available along the 12 developed side tours.

A beautiful, intriguing experience for visitors, the East Tennessee Crossing Byway has much to offer.