Intimate Newfound Gap Elopement in The Great Smoky Mountains
If you are looking for the perfect outdoor location for your elopement, I want to let you in on a well-kept secret: Newfound Gap. The elopement of Kaity and Brandon at the Newfound Gap Parking Area was spectacular! Not only is it one of the most beautiful outdoor locations to shoot, but it is also one of the few wedding locations approved by the Smoky Mountain National Park. From the parking lot, you are offered several beautiful overlook options. If you love the unparalleled, ever-changing splendor of the great outdoors, you may want to consider Newfound Gap as your elopement destination.
If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘gap’, it is the Appalachian term for what westerners would call a mountain pass. Newfound Gap gets its name from its very beginning when it was surveyed and discovered that it was the lowest gap in the Great Smoky Mountains, edging out the prior record-holder, Indian Gap. Once verified, it was named Newfound because it was a newfound discovery. At 5046 feet in elevation, it is the lowest drivable pass through the Smokies.
Newfound Gap is crossed by the Appalachian Trail and straddles the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. It is accessible from either Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or Cherokee, North Carolina. There are diverse forests and scenic overlooks that provide perfect backdrops for your wedding photographs. Your backdrop can change with the seasons, so no two photos will ever be quite the same.
Available Wedding Locations
There are several available photography locations available along US 441 from the Sugarland Visitor Center to the Newfound Gap Parking area. I like to take advantage of the multiple overlooks along 441 and the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.
Newfound Gap is an approved wedding venue location. If you want to plan a wedding in the Great Smoky Mountains, you need to obtain a special use permit. You can obtain the permit here as well as pay the $50 permit fee online. Just be sure it is received at least 14 days prior to the big day.
I am so honored to be one of only a few photographers who are permitted to take wedding and elopement photos in the Great Smoky Mountains. I love being able to capture your love for each other and for the exquisite natural surroundings that this outdoor location offers.
What You Should Know
So, you found a location. You found a photographer. You found each other. What else would you possibly need to know?
- You can’t fool Mother Nature. With all the beauty that Mother Nature provides, she can be fickle. Depending on when you are scheduling your elopement, weather can be a factor. At nearly a mile in elevation, Newfound Gap may have a different, even unpredictable forecast. Temperatures can be 10 degrees or more colder than the lowlands, so that could be the difference between rain and snow showers. So it is always a good idea to have a plan B just in case. A spring shower, surprise snow flurries or strong winds often make great photos but could be a bit uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to check out the weather cam so you can see if you need to make any last minute adjustments.
- There is plenty to do. Since Newfound Gap is crossed by the Appalachian Trail, there are numerous trails available. You can take a leisurely stroll up the trail or if you are up for it, go backpacking for an impromptu and informal honeymoon. Just south of the gap, you can take Clingmans Dome Road nearly to the top of Clingmans Dome. The Dome, which is the highest peak in the Smokies, was the inspiration for the tune ‘On Top of Old Smoky.’ Check for road closures before firming up your plans since the Dome Road is closed from the beginning of December through the end of March (or if inclement weather strikes outside of those dates.)
- Check out the nearby towns. Cherokee, NC is only 18 miles away and offers a variety of lodging choices to fit your taste and budget. They have local attractions celebrating the Cherokee heritage as well as shopping and many other outdoor activities. Gatlinburg, TN, only 16 miles away is known for the variety of attractions as well as fine dining, local shopping, and seasonal celebrations. Both are easily accessible from the Newfound Gap parking lot.
Your Adventure Awaits
I love photographing couples who share a love for each other as well as for nature. I specialize in spontaneous photos, showing your real-life emotions and responses. Further, I want to give you photographs that you cherish and that remind you of your special day and all the laughter and tears that came with it.
Tennessee is my home. I wasn’t born here, but I chose to be here. I get up each morning and marvel at the beauty and magnificence that this state has to offer. The Great Smoky Mountains are one of my favorite places to photograph. I love the natural light, the change of seasons, and the mixture of hard and soft that exemplifies real life. The Smokies offer a rugged beauty that can not be captured at a staged location. I love its perfect imperfection.
If you want your wedding photos to reflect your sense of adventure, your penchant for all things natural and beautiful, the Newfound Gap just might be the perfect location for you. I offer elopement packages starting at $1500 for three full hours.
Florals: Echelon Florist
Officiant: Nicole Threadgill Events