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  1. #1

    Default Driving I-40 Smoky Mountains

    Hi everyone...we're planning a road trip from Green Bay to Charleston in late December. Can anyone tell me anything about driving through the Smoky Mountains on I 40? I'm just a little nervous about the mountains.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,275

    Default

    Here are a couple sites you need to look at:

    NC TIMS
    TDOT Smartmap

    As with any other mountain Interstate, it is subject to weather issues. However, if you can drive in a Wisconsin winter, you won't have any problem unless a BIG storm comes through. If you have any doubts, I'd advise you to go through that stretch in daylight. I have gone through there in winter with snow and ice on the road - it wasn't fun but I just kept my speed down.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,549

    Default Keep track of the weather

    Hello Christy,

    As always, glc is spot-on. Here's a bit of additional info:

    I-40 from Newport, TN, to Asheville, NC and the I-26 junction is a segment of only 50 miles or so of mountain driving. While it's somewhat curvier than standard Interstates, the lanes are separated by Jersey barriers and most of the uphill segments are 3 lanes. In addition, the highway follows the Pigeon River for much of the distance, so elevations at road level are fairly modest. There is a gap (a "pass") between the TN line and Clyde, and another between Clyde and Asheville, and those are the only spots where there is somewhat higher elevations.

    While it's certainly possible to encounter snow or ice in late December, it's most likely to be short in duration and not severe in amounts. A close look at local forecasts, such as for Asheville, a day or two ahead of time should give you a good idea of what to expect.

    Foy

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you so much! Both of you have made me feel a lot better about the drive. And you're right...if I can do Wisconsin, I can do anything!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Chattanooga
    Posts
    34

    Default

    That bit of I-40 is a lovely drive; it'd be a shame to miss it. In fact, if you have the time, it'd be great to linger in that area.

    The speed limit through the mountains is reduced to around 45. It's certainly not as chill as flatland, but it's not big deal.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Sevierville, Tennessee, United States
    Posts
    21

    Default Expect a 10 degree drop in Temp Alt I-81 to I-26

    Generally expect a 10-15 degree drop in temperature from Knoxville,TN to Asheville, NC. Heavy truck traffic tends to slow everyone down if there is weather. An alternative that can be used is I-81 north at TN mile marker 421 to I-26 East which reconnects with I-40 in Asheville. Slightly longer and higher but wider. There is a rest area at TN Mile marker 419 on I-40 east just before the I-40/I-81 split that has weather radar on a monitor 24/7.


    Gary

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,275

    Default

    Another option would be this - I-57/I-24 to Nashville, I-24 to Chattanooga, I-75 to Atlanta, I-20 to Columbia, then I-26 to Charleston. The only iffy area going that way is near Chattanooga. However, this would add about 150 miles and 2 hours to your trip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,549

    Default And Atlanta.........

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Another option would be this - I-57/I-24 to Nashville, I-24 to Chattanooga, I-75 to Atlanta, I-20 to Columbia, then I-26 to Charleston. The only iffy area going that way is near Chattanooga. However, this would add about 150 miles and 2 hours to your trip.
    And while that southern, lower elevation loop might be an "out" in the event of truly bad weather, it does also add Atlanta, a perpetual traffic snafu I tend to avoid like the plague. Hitting Atlanta at the wrong time (is there a right one?), might make what should be a 2 hour addition into a 3 hour one.

    Foy

  9. #9

    Default

    I live in Sevier County, Tennessee (near Knoxville) and I drive through those mountains on I-40 all the time, in all times of the year, and it would be very unusual for that road to close due to snow or ice. The speed limit varies but 55 mph is normal except for a few slower curves. The state troopers in NC patrol this area very carefully to keep the truck traffic (and you) from speeding. NC restricts heavy trucks to right lane through the mountains. But it is not a six lane interstate through the mountains: it is four lane. But I agree with the other posters that you have nothing to worry about. : )

    But if you have a spare day you could drive through the tourist mecca of this area via SR66; visit Dollywood for the Christmas festival; do some shopping at the big outlet malls; drive to the picturesque mountain town of Gatlinburg, and maybe spend the night there. The next day you could cross the mountains through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via US441, and stop and play the slots at Harrahs, in Cherokee NC, but, sadly, there is no easy way to get back to I-40 once out of the park on the east side. With a good map it can be done without much trouble: just not quickly.

    But you can take US321 East out of Gatlinburg and hook back in to I-40 east of Newport with no trouble.

    Have a fun and safe trip.

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