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Old 05-14-2016, 11:03 AM   #1
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Highway 40 over the Smokey Mountains

Taking a trip from Savannah Ga to Gatlinburg Tn our route looks like highway 40 over the smokey mountains never been over the smokey mountains how does that compare to the Rocky Mountains on 70 thru Colorado
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Old 05-14-2016, 11:22 AM   #2
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I've driven that route many times. While it is through the mountains, it is nothing like the Rockies. I don't recall any extreme grades. It is a good interstate highway and should give you no problems. The biggest hurdle will be the traffic getting into Gatlinburg.
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Old 05-14-2016, 11:45 AM   #3
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I've driven that route many times. While it is through the mountains, it is nothing like the Rockies. I don't recall any extreme grades. It is a good interstate highway and should give you no problems. The biggest hurdle will be the traffic getting into Gatlinburg.

X2... It's "hilly" but it's no I-70 through the Rockies.. Piece of cake for your rig.
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Old 05-14-2016, 12:11 PM   #4
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Taking a trip from Savannah Ga to Gatlinburg Tn our route looks like highway 40 over the smokey mountains never been over the smokey mountains how does that compare to the Rocky Mountains on 70 thru Colorado

Drive that route all the time. It's very scenic but the I40 portion is heavily traveled.

The most serious grade is a 6-7% up grade close to the NC/SC state line. It's 3 miles or so and then a couple of more up/down grades to get past the Green River gorge.

There is road construction at the I26/I40 junction so watch lane shifts.

I40 west is through the Pigeon River gorge. Plenty of curves but no major grades.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:10 PM   #5
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I have found I-77 to I-81 to 40 is another option that I prefer unless your going for the scenery. GPS says it's only a few miles farther and it might be faster not having to slow down for the many curves you will find on 40.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:31 PM   #6
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I have found I-77 to I-81 to 40 is another option that I prefer unless your going for the scenery. GPS says it's only a few miles farther and it might be faster not having to slow down for the many curves you will find on 40.

It's actually nearly 200 miles further. That said, it is a great route and very scenic in its own right. One long climb up to Fancy Gap close to the NC/VA state line.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:31 PM   #7
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I-40 doesn't actually go over the mountains but rather follows the Pigeon River thru them. As a result there is a 15-20 mile section that is pretty curvy but the grades are insignificant. We were just thru their on Friday.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:33 PM   #8
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Spectacular scenery on some of the decent.
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Old 05-15-2016, 10:02 AM   #9
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...but the grades are insignificant.
2-6 miles of 5-6% grade is insignificant? For example, between Black Mountain and Old Fort I40 has 5.5 miles of 6% grade.

The main difference vs the Rockies is that the overall altitude is much lower, well under 3000 ft in most places vs 5000-11,000 through much of the Rockies. Engine performance is less affected at lower altitudes.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:46 PM   #10
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We travel this section of I40 all the time. Be careful of last turn at bottom of mountain on the Tn side. 50mph is highly recommended. Also there is one curve near the upper section on the Nc side that is also marked 50mph. Truck speed limit is 55 on this section on interstate so I just fall in lone with them going up or down and don't have any problems. I recommend following I 40 to exit 407 and not try exit 435 as it is narrow and curvey. Hope you Enjoy our backyard!
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:49 PM   #11
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Thumbs up

BTW we just took the reverse trip of you back in March, went to Savanah and Tybee Island.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:57 PM   #12
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Saluda Grade from Exit 67 to about Exit 62 on I-26 West is a 6% Grade. There is a truck lane with no vehicles with 3 or more axles allowed in the left lane.

Others mentioned Green River Gorge which is in the 6 - 7% range. You will definitely need the engine brake there. There was road construction just prior to Green River Gorge the last time I drove through there which reduced traffic to one lane so patience is a virtue.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:29 AM   #13
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As I live in North Alabama and travel the Smokey Mountain areas a lot, I read the replies to Randy's question with interest and lots of good and accurate info was shared.
Now, I have a question for the other side of the country. We have a 34TGA gasser and a Honda Fit toad. When we head out later this year for Montana and other points west, is there a recommended route over the Rockies for us low-torque gassers? Other than crossing the Southern Tier on I-20 and then head north?
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:37 AM   #14
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If you have never been to builtmoor in Ashville NC it is a must see for people who like american castles.
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