Tennessee’s oldest unfinished highway project is about to take a giant leap forward! After 50 years of waiting, a new 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway is set to open on Saturday, November 10, 2018. Running from Walland to Wears Valley, this 16-mile stretch of the Parkway has been delayed for decades because of construction crews’ inability to finish a 1.65-mile portion of the road known as the “missing link.”
Now that the missing link has finally been bridged, motorists will soon be able to enjoy the Parkway’s breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains! To help you prepare for your next vacation, Hearthside Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to everything you need to know about the Foothills Parkway.
Excited for Unparalleled Views
The Foothills Parkway now extends for 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley. At an event celebrating the big news, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander declared that the new Foothills Parkway will be “the prettiest drive in America” because it will be “the only way you can see the highest part of the mountains in the eastern United States in this way.”
Cassius Cash, the superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is similarly excited about the completion of the new section of the Parkway. In a press release, Cash said, “We are grateful to the visionaries in the 1930s who conceived the idea of a parkway and to the countless people who have tirelessly worked since then to complete this spectacular section. We can’t wait for people to experience the unparalleled views offered along this new Smokies destination.”
Walking the Parkway on November 8
Before the Foothills Parkway is opened to motorists on November 10, there will be a special opportunity for people to experience the road on foot. If weather conditions permit, a shuttle service will take guests to the new section of the Parkway on the morning of Thursday, November 8 so they can walk along the road and take in the views. According to a press release from the National Park Service, more details will be provided by Friday, November 2.
The History of the Foothills Parkway
The idea for the Foothills Parkway was first approved by Congress way back in 1944. The original plan for the Parkway called for a 72-mile route from Chilhowee Lake to Cosby. Unfortunately, construction on the Parkway has been plagued with a variety of issues, and this 72-mile roadway has not materialized.
During the late 1960s, a few sections of the Foothills Parkway were successfully completed. A 17-mile stretch between US 129 and Walland was built, and on the eastern side, a 5.5-mile section connecting Cosby with Interstate 40 came to fruition. However, the 16-mile stretch of the Parkway from Walland to Wears Valley proved more difficult to finish.
The major obstacle to completing the Walland to Wears Valley portion of the Parkway came in the form of a 1.65-mile segment that would earn the infamous title of the “missing link.” With its rugged terrain, this short section of the roadway was very difficult to build upon. Further complications arose when it was discovered that soil in the construction zone harbored minerals that could damage the environment. Starting in 1989, construction crews took a long hiatus from the project and it looked like the work put into the 16-mile stretch of the Parkway was all for naught.
New life was breathed into the project in 2009 when federal stimulus money became available for work on the Parkway. Using the latest technology, construction crews were able to complete the “missing link” with a series of nine bridges that “float” around the edge of the mountain.
Where to Stay in the Smoky Mountains
When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you will be just a short drive away from the Wears Valley section of the Foothills Parkway and all of the fun in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Our cabins come with your choice of fantastic amenities, including beautiful mountain views, decks with hot tubs and rocking chairs, fully furnished kitchens, awesome game rooms, state-of-the-art home theaters, and even more wonderful features. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins for romantic escapes to 18 bedroom lodges for family reunions, we are sure to have the ideal accommodations for your vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabins in the Smoky Mountains!