Tour Bus Guide

Tips for Bus Drivers

If you have not driven in the mountains before, some hazards may not be obvious. These tips can familiarize you with mountain driving and help prevent unnecessary delays and possible accidents.

  1. Overheating brakes are a major problem in mountain driving. If you find that you are constantly riding the brakes, shift to a lower gear. This is best accomplished prior to descending mountain roads. In general, a vehicle will require the same gear while traveling downhill as it would while traveling up the same road. Unless you are an experienced driver, it can be dangerous to shift to a lower gear once the vehicle has started the descent. Proper tire pressure is important to prevent heat build up on tires while negotiating the many curves on park roads.
  2. Vapor lock, engine or transmission overheating, and radiator boil over can all be caused by long steady ascents. Usually a 30-minute cool down period will alleviate the problem.
  3. Consider stopping at scenic vistas while traveling. Not only does this allow your passengers more opportunity to view the park, it also allows your brakes to cool while traveling downhill. Occasionally pulling over while traveling uphill will give other motorists an opportunity to pass and might prevent impatient drivers from passing at dangerous locations.
  4. Weather in the mountains will vary with the elevation. The lower elevations will often be warm and clear. Higher altitudes may be cool, rainy, snowy, or foggy. Thick fog is more likely to occur in the early morning and at night. Falling rocks are common after heavy rains.
  5. Buses are prohibited from idling engines in parking lots of developed areas.

Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park's official online store for books, maps, and guides to the park. Operated by the nonprofit Smokies Life, proceeds generated by purchases at the store are donated to educational, scientific, and historical projects in the park.

Last updated: February 10, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us